"Life is better when you pay it forward."

— Rep. Janet Cruz, Florida Senator, HCC Alumna

Born in Ybor City and raised near West Tampa, Janet Cruz became a mother at the age of 16. Undeterred by her circumstances, she returned to graduate from high school when her daughter Ana was just months old. Soon Cruz enrolled at HCC, where she successfully completed the opticianry program in preparation to support her family.

With help from family and friends, she built a successful franchise opticianry business. Later she decided it was time to give back to her community by representing them in state government. Cruz served as the first female minority leader in the Florida legislature—a role model for young women seeking to overcome obstacles and achieve success. Now in the Florida State Senate, Cruz has pledged to continue to be a voice for the working class, a proponent of quality public education, and a protector of Florida’s children.

Her commitment to helping others permeates every area of her life, as Cruz strives daily to bring hope and opportunity to the people of her community.