KENTLAND — Making his first trip back to South Newton since he graduated in 1986, Federal Maritime Commissioner Louis Sola toured his old stomping grounds and spoke to Michael Fenters’ 7th-hour high school class.
Sola, who was nominated to the commission on Nov. 15, 2018, and was confirmed by the United States Senate on January 2, 2019. He was sworn into office on January 23, 2019, to a term expiring on June 30, 2023.
Sola spoke about his position as he helps “safeguard US exports and imports.”
“I try to make sure everyone is treated fairly while also enforcing maritime law,” added Sola.
Sola, who was in the area for the commissioning of the new USS Indianapolis combat vessel at Burns Harbor, wanted to check out his former school, and talk to some students about their future.
“If you are given the opportunity to study anything you want, don’t just look at what makes the most money, do what you love,” said Sola. “I have always been in love with boats and the oceans. I majored in accounting and I have never been an accountant a day in my life.”
Sola added that he wasn’t really a great student until his senior year, but he knew he was going to go into the military.
“My mother died while I was still young from the opioid epidemic before it was a thing,” said Sola. “I knew right away that my family didn’t have the funds to send me to college. When I look back, the military was so honored and respected in this area it really put me in a position to succeed.”
Sola went on to tell the students that if he could, he would have sent his children to South Newton because it is such a wholesome and good environment.
“There is a very positive mindset here and that is not the case at every school,” said Sola. “They install a good work ethic here and this is a very special place.”
As for advice for the students, Sola touched on two main points. Don’t pick the school, let the school pick you, and don’t worry about failing.
“As for the government, they like to hire people who have tried and failed but didn’t give up,” said Sola. “You learn from your failure.”
Commissioner Sola was a 2018 candidate for Florida’s 24th Congressional District in his hometown of Miami, Florida.
Sola was previously appointed by then-Governor Rick Scott to serve as a Commissioner on the Florida Board of Pilots Commissioners in 2015. As a Commissioner of the Board of Pilots, Commissioner Sola was responsible for licensing and regulating harbor pilots and served on the Probable Cause Panel for Marine Accidents.
Between 2005 and 2018, Commissioner Sola was a licensed ship and mega yacht broker who served as Chief Executive Officer of Evermarine, and as an executive with prestigious yachting firms Northup and Johnson Yacht and Campers & Nicholsons (including winning the Cannes – Azimut Benetti Sales Award).
Between 1998 and 2004, Commissioner Sola served as a consultant with Berkshire Capital and Arden & Price while raising his family in the Panama Canal Zone. During this time, he authored, inter alia, studies for the Inter-American Development Bank regarding the creation of a Central American Index fund through the region’s equity markets. Commissioner Sola also developed international finance strategies focusing on the maritime sector in Latin America (including ports, free trade zones and ship repairs) as well as management of greenfield projects.
Commissioner Sola served in the U.S. Army between 1986 and 1997 as a strategic debriefer and as a counterintelligence agent. He served the U.S. Army’s Intelligence and Security Command in Munich, Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall by strategically debriefing refugees from Eastern Europe. Subsequently, Commissioner Sola served the U.S. Army’s Southern Command as a Spanish linguist involved with counterintelligence activities in Panama during the War on Drugs in the 1990s. Mr. Sola earned the US Army Parachutist Badge (Airborne) and was awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal for his efforts during the Cuban Refugee Crisis. He has also received the National Defense Service Medal, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the Army Commendation Medal and has received the Army Achievement Award three times. He is a two-time graduate of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, Presidio of Monterey, CA (Spanish, German).
Commissioner Sola earned his A.A. in history from Parkland College; a B.S. in Management from the Nova Southeastern University and an M.S in international finance from the University of Illinois, and served as an adjunct professor at Florida State University between 1999 and 2001 where he taught classes in small business, finance, and entrepreneurship.