Alumni Spotlight: Daniel Labossiere, USF Business Graduate, Entrepreneur, Authors a Book About His Life
By Keith Morelli
TAMPA (May 26, 2017) -- When Daniel Labossiere emigrated from Haiti during the repressive François "Papa Doc" Duvalier era, his new home in the United States was not quite what he had expected. It was difficult. And hateful.
"My family migrated to the United States to escape political persecution, oppression and unbearable economic conditions," he said. "However, we soon discovered that moving to America did not help us escape these perils, it only changed their source. I grew up cherishing my family – my source of strength and support – but resenting my new countrymen who appeared to find pleasure in my pain and suffering."
But, the University of South Florida business college alumnus learned, all that strife played an essential part in him achieving the American dream and coming to terms with his life.
"What I've come to realize is that a lot more Americans of my generation, or one or two generations prior ... actually share a similar story. Many Americans came from a foreign land. Their families were also in search of a better way of life. Many Americans had to battle for acceptance with those who were here before them. Many struggled against oppression from those who either didn't want to share a piece of the American pie or believed that the immigrants were here to rob them of their piece.
"I use to think that I was one of only a few who shared that American experience," he said. "I now realize that this is actually what it means to be an American."
The entrepreneur and author now looks back at his life and marks the time taking business classes at USF in the 1980s as a period of enlightenment in more ways than just learning how to put numbers in a ledger.
"My four years at USF was probably the most memorable period of my adult life," said Labossiere, who now owns and runs a South Florida IT company he started more than two decades ago. "It provided the foundation for the structure of the man I would later become. USF gave me a great environment to broaden my perspective through a wide variety of experiences that I would otherwise never have been exposed to had I chosen to stay home.
"As a student in a university that catered to international students as well as students from every town in America," he said, "I learned to gain a greater appreciation not just for a country that I once felt had no place for me, but also for the beautifully diverse people with whom I share this wonderful planet."
He received his bachelor's degree in accounting in 1989 and four years later, his dream of entrepreneurship came to pass when he started up Computer Mate, a company specializing in providing software that manages electronic health-care records.
But there's more to Labossiere than starting and running a successful business. In November, he published his first novel, "The Power of the Baton: An Inspirational Tale of a Family United." The book chronicles his life's story and stresses the importance of empowering the next generation, like those in his family who have come before him and like he is doing with his sons, one of whom just graduated this spring from Florida State University.
Labossiere's story was not an easy one. His early years were spent in poverty-stricken Haiti in the late 1960s.
Born the 14th of 15 children in Les Cayes, Haiti, Labossiere move to Brooklyn, New York, when he was 8 years old and lived with relatives. In 1981, he and his family moved to Miami where he attended high school, graduating in 1985. From there, he headed to Tampa to pursue an accounting degree from USF.
Writing the book gave Labossiere a way to voice his introspection.
"Looking back at my life's journey through my mind's eye," he said, "I suppose I can now see things through the corrective lenses of wisdom that I was unable to see before when I was living out my experiences for the first time."
He said that as a young man, he fought against the mistreatment he endured as a Haitian immigrant.
"Now," he said, "I've come to accept these struggles as part of the price I had to pay to pursue the American dream."
He has been married for more than two decades and has two sons, one just graduated, the other entering his sophomore year in college.
"After 23 years of marriage, my wife and I are gearing up for a new chapter in our lives," he said. "The chapter where our children become adults and we begin to search for new experiences to enrich our journey."
Both he and his wife have jobs that allow them to work remotely and travel is becoming a bigger part of who they are.
In February, Labossiere visited USF as part of the university's Diversity Lecture Series.
"As our youngest child prepares to leave the nest," he said, "our goal is to take advantage of this rare opportunity offered by our jobs and become citizens of the world by experiencing life abroad moving from place to place, learning and sharing with other cultures."