UM alum and former national security officer complements high-level government service with music, religion and quantum mechanics at OLLI

Along with his wife, Norma, Guillermo Cueto joined the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in 2017 and said the couple enjoy their new friendships, intellectual discussions, and many social activities.
UM alum and former national security officer complements high-level government service with music, religion and quantum mechanics at OLLI

Guillermo and Norma Cueto, OLLI members since 2017, attend the program's 40th anniversary breakfast with former University President Donna Shalala.

Guillermo Cueto and his wife Norma are both graduates of the University of Miami. He studied political science and international relations. She majored in finance and marketing.

Guillermo has traveled abroad for humanitarian work, including a 30-day medical mission to the Dominican Republic with his wife on their honeymoon, spending the first days of their 55-year marriage distributing polio vaccines and training families in first aid and preventive healthcare.

"That medical mission in the mountains of the Dominican Republic was a fundamental pillar of our happy 55 years of marriage, and we have passed this on to our children and grandchildren, who also participate in humanitarian endeavors and missions in the US and abroad," Guillermo Cueto said.

Guillermo and Norma Cueto participated in a humanitarian mission to the Dominican Republic on their honeymoon. It was the beginning of many humanitarian projects for the couple and their family.
Guillermo and Norma Cueto participated in a humanitarian mission to the Dominican Republic on their honeymoon. It was the beginning of many humanitarian projects for the couple and their family.

When the couple retired – Guillermo from a long career in national security for multiple branches of the US government and Norma from over 20 years for engineering firms, for projects like the PortMiami tunnel and the Miami International Airport expansion, they knew they wanted to slow down at least a little.

In 2017, Norma Cueto received an email from the University’s Alumni Association that would launch them into a new adventure here at home. As always, they embarked on this latest journey together, as members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a program for adult learners 50+ who take courses and participate in volunteer and social activities.

Cueto, who receives open-source situation reports on global conflicts through his consulting work with think tanks and humanitarian organizations, frequently serves as a commentator on security issues for major news outlets like CNN, Voice of America and Fox News.

He said he has no trouble finding stimulating courses at OLLI to expand his understanding of global issues.

"OLLI is such a vast and eclectic scholastic depository of knowledge, that there are always classes, guest lectures, and occasions to learn something new, something I never knew," said Cueto, who was born in Cuba and has worked for the US National Security Council, the US Department of Defense, the US Department of the Navy as well as for the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB).

"These greatly enhance my perspective, to see world events, humanity and its history, soul and culture in a deeper, more holistic way," he said.

One of the most fascinating courses Cueto said he has taken at OLLI included a section on "the life and times of Jesus" and the ongoing conflict between science and religion in modern life taught by retired aerospace program manager Ira Mark Edgall. The course is based on Edgall’s award-winning book, "Cosmic Roots."

"I enjoyed the fluid and intellectually controversial discussion that erupted during Dr. Edgall’s presentation on Jesus, his divinity, and role as connector of Christianity and Judaism," Cueto said.

A course on music history proved less controversial but just as intriguing, Cueto said. He described Alan Mason’s course on music history as the "prevalent academic experience at OLLI that profoundly impacted and enriched my intellectual life."

"Dr. Mason’s deep knowledge, experience, passion, and expressive demeanor connected with me and my classmates, Cueto explained. "His lectures transcended the confines of academics by conveying to us a new paradigm towards the perception, interpretation, and acquaintance with music’s great masters."

Norma Cueto also took music history and said the class "not only brought back much of what I had learned studying piano in my youth, but enhanced my knowledge and appreciation of music."

Another class, on photo encaustic art was "absolutely amazing," Norma Cueto added. "It is based on an ancient art form that uses wax and dates back to the time of the Egyptians."

Although Guillermo Cueto said he has taken a few courses in global affairs, including "The History of Islam" and "Introduction to Chinese Philosophy," he said he prefers to take courses in areas that are new to him. Things like artificial intelligence, US constitutional law, and quantum mechanics.

Like so many OLLI members, the Cuetos say they have enjoyed the social aspects of the program just as much as the intellectual ones.

"I fully enjoy, together with my wife, OLLI’s parties, events, and celebrations," said Cueto, who recently attended the program’s 40th anniversary breakfast with former University of Miami President Donna Shalala.

Norma Cueto said the couple learned of the Cambridge Lifelong Learning Summer Program through OLLI. They attended the summer programs at Cambridge twice.

"The program offers classes such as "One Thousand Years of the Monarchy" and "Scientists of Cambridge," she said. "We have stayed in touch with the director of the program and plan to attend again."

The Cuetos have three generations of University of Miami alumni in their family – son, Santiago Cueto, who earned his bachelor’s in business administration and his master’s in English, along with two granddaughters, Raquel and Alexandra Cueto, both of whom attended the School of Communication. Raquel graduated in 2023 and Alexandra graduates in May.

Maybe one day, three generations of Cuetos will join OLLI as well. Cueto said he encourages anyone who is interested in expanding their intellectual horizons to consider joining OLLI.

"We love sharing marvelous homemade food, conversing among (our friends), creating and strengthening bonds of common interests, kindness, empathy, and strong networks that will always prevail among us," he said.

"OLLI is a center of learning and intellectual encounters that stimulates and enriches your knowledge and education amidst the enjoyment of likeable and interesting people, and excellent academics, administrators, and staff. It is the optimum place to ‘stay curious and stay connected,’ as we like to say."

Norma agrees, adding, "OLLI is a place where friendships are made, minds are enriched, and new experiences happen."

OLLI celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. To learn more visit