Secretary of the Navy Visits Belen

Teresa Martinez | Director of Communications
On February 9, Belen Jesuit welcomed the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Carlos Del Toro for a tour of the state-of-the-art Roberto C. Goizueta Innovation Center and a special presentation with students in the STEAM program.

In an inspiring message, Secretary Del Toro encouraged students to follow their passions at all life stages and be lifelong learners in their pursuits. “Whether in Belen or after college, being a lifelong learner will sustain you and make you happy in life,” said Del Toro.

“Coming in this morning, I knew I was going to meet the Secretary of the Navy and was looking forward to hearing from someone with his achievements and experience,” said Jake Usallan ‘24. “He greeted us and asked my team what project we were working on. I was happy to explain, and he listened intently and asked us insightful questions. I wasn’t sure how it would go at first, but it went even better than I expected. Meeting him definitely reaffirmed that what we were working on was worth it and gave us even more motivation to push harder to get it done.” 

The Secretary observed an engineering and design and innovation class. Then, he met with students during a presentation in the Roca Theater, where he shared his story and talked to students about service as a fundamental aspect of our democracy and a core value that has defined our nation.

“We are excited to welcome Secretary Del Toro to our campus,” said José E. Roca ‘84, Principal. “We are honored to be able to provide our students with this opportunity and enjoyed hearing his story and words of inspiration.”

The Innovation Center opened in the fall of 2020 and is home to the school’s STEAM Program. The 8,000-square-foot Roberto C. Goizueta Innovation Center offers a mix of traditional classrooms, maker spaces, and a science lab. The STEAM Program gives students access to many tools, varying from 3D printers and laser cutters to powerful computers with professional design software. Additionally, the Robotics teams use the Innovation Center as their home base of operation and students can also experience expanded extracurricular activities.

“Technical education isn’t just about learning the tools; it’s about empowering students to shape our future,” said Adriana Salazar, Ph.D., STEAM Director. “I’m thrilled Secretary Del Toro highlighted the importance of this and the opportunities the Department of the Navy provides to innovate.”

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Belen Jesuit Preparatory School was founded in 1854 in Havana, Cuba by Queen Isabel II of Spain.  The task of educating students was assigned to the priests and brothers of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), whose teaching tradition is synonymous with academic excellence and spiritual discipline.  In 1961, the new political regime of Cuba confiscated the School property and expelled the Jesuit faculty.  The School was re-established in Miami the same year, and over the next decade, continued to grow.  Today, Belen Jesuit sits on a 30-acre site in western Dade County, only minutes away from downtown Miami.