Dr. Cardona: “As American as Apple Pie & Rice & Beans”

Dr. Miguel Cardona, President Biden’s pick to run the U.S. Department of Education, is awaiting confirmation in the Senate.

Supporters in his hometown of Meriden are making coffee mugs with the life-long educator’s now popular “As American as Apple Pie & Rice and beans” quote on them.

“I, being bilingual and bicultural, am as American as apple pie and rice and beans,” said Dr. Cardona in his nomination acceptance speech last month.


“When he said that, my phone blew up,”  said Diana Alicea, Cardona’s cousin. “I felt how much that can relate to anyone, not just a Hispanic person. It can relate to anyone that is here with different nationalities and how inclusive it is.”

The mugs with the impactful phrase were initially made for just family members. But Alicea and her neighbor Cathy Martorella who came up with the idea of making the mugs decided to sell them to benefit the Meriden Puerto Rican Festival Scholarship Fund – and Dr. Cardona agreed.

They have sold several hundred mugs via a Facebook page they created to support the initiative.

The Puerto Rican Scholarship is open to all high school seniors in Meriden.

Dr. Cardona, 45, is Connecticut’s education commissioner. He grew up in Meridien, speaking Spanish from birth with his Puerto Rican parents. Cardona was raised in a housing project in Meridien and graduated from a technical high school as part of the automotive studies program, before earning an undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D. in education. 

Dr. Cardona’s Senate confirmation hearing has not yet been scheduled.

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