Since taking office in March, President Alexander N. Cartwright has made it his mission to make UCF known for academic, operational and inclusive excellence. But who are the new president and first lady leading UCF? The following video series offers insight into their happiest days, what interests them outside of education and what job President Cartwright would NEVER want to do (again), even for a million dollars.

Part 1

Melinda Cartwright: What is one thing you know to be true?

Alexander Cartwright: I would say one thing I know for sure that’s true is that a higher education degree transforms lives. That is the truth.

MC: Yeah, [it] changed our lives.

AC: Yeah, we’re fortunate because … I do believe that I’m living my dream job — [all] because I was able to get a GED, then go to a community college, and then go to a university, [and] work with some tremendous leaders who gave me an appreciation for what leadership really means. That then positions me to be here. That is what it means to benefit from higher education. We want to make sure that all of our students here understand that they can benefit the same way. This is access to an opportunity here. You need to take advantage of that opportunity and —

MC: Ask for help.

AC: Ask for help when you need it.

MC: The staff is really there for you.

AC: And you’ll do very well. You can do it.

Part 2

MC: What did you want to be when you were growing up? We’ve never talked about this.

AC: I actually don’t remember. I don’t know if we ever talked about [that] when we were young.

When you see opportunity, you’re able to dream. When you don’t know if you can actually get through the immediate future, you don’t dream. You don’t think much about what you can be when you grow up because you’re so worried about what’s coming next. I think a lot about growing up and just not having much and not knowing how we were gonna get the next meal or how we’d be able to pay rent or not having electricity and not being able to afford electricity. I actually don’t remember much about what I would’ve wanted to be because it just — I didn’t know if any of it was realistic. But every day I think about how fortunate I am to actually go from that to where we are now. And we’ve had a very lucky life.

MC: We’ve been very lucky.

Part 3

AC: As a musician, what do you believe the arts provide in our lives and community?

MC: We all need to escape from all the stress. So I mean it’s a way to escape from stress. It’s a way for people to connect.

AC: When you think about important times in your life, you don’t connect technology necessarily?

MC: No.

AC: There is a part of our lives that are all about the arts.