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News . Feature Stories . Alum Jose Longoria’s generosity opens doors

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March 13, 2024

Alum Jose Longoria’s generosity opens doors

Jose Longoria ’81 keeps many of the items he’s designed"including toys for Fisher-Price, Conair Quick Braiders and the HD Studio iMarker"around his home office in Miami. Submitted photo.

By Lydia Mandell

Along his journey from modest beginnings growing up in Cuba to becoming a successful and accomplished designer, Jose Longoria has personified seizing opportunities. At age 12, he and his family relocated to Miami, and years later, his path took a defining turn when he enrolled at the Cleveland Institute of Art.

Longoria graduated from CIA in 1981 with a BFA in Industrial Design, and today, he’s president of Longoria Design in Miami. However, having not heard of Industrial Design before attending CIA, Longoria’s trajectory wasn’t always clear. That changed when a high school teacher intervened and paved the way for his enrollment in art school.

“Mrs. Mitchell asked me, ‘What are you gonna do with yourself?’ And I didn’t have grand plans, coming from a humble background. But she saw potential and pushed me toward art school,” Longoria says. “She opened doors that I didn’t know existed.”

With his teacher’s guidance, Longoria took commercial art classes at a vocational school. Mrs. Mitchell promised that no matter what projects he made, she’d help him arrange them into a presentable portfolio. Doing just that, Longoria was admitted into every art college to which he applied.

CIA’s competitive financial aid brought him to Cleveland, the farthest north he had ever been. Once there, Longoria found a vibrant community dedicated to artistic pursuit. “The intensity and dedication at CIA were unparalleled. It was like a monastic life, where everyone took art seriously,” he says.

Since his time at CIA and the inception of Longoria Design in 1987, Longoria has been designing, innovating and inventing products. From new designs of the Super Soaker water gun to creating the Quick Braid hair-styling device sold by Conair, Longoria has hundreds of patents, largely in the toy sector.

After decades of hard work and innovation, Longoria feels it is a full-circle moment to now give to the College.

Longoria’s commitment to giving back stems from a deep sense of gratitude for the opportunities afforded to him. “My parents couldn’t afford to send me to college. It was through scholarships and support that I was able to have this career,” he says. “Now, I have the opportunity to pay it forward and help make it happen for somebody else.”

Reflecting on his journey, Longoria offers advice to fellow alumni considering giving back to CIA: “It’s fulfilling. It’s something you’re connected to. I encourage generosity toward the Institute,” he says, emphasizing that a culture of generosity is what helped him attend school.

For Longoria, the act of generosity isn’t just about financial contributions, it’s about nurturing a culture of support and empowerment within the community. Through his giving and gratitude, Longoria ensures that future generations of artists and designers have the same opportunities that once changed his life.

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