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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The president of Miami Dade College was at the White House to receive the nation’s highest honor.

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“Padron’s example is one we can all follow,” said President Barack Obama during the ceremony Tuesday afternoon.

The White House called Dr. Eduardo Padron a national voice for access and inclusion. They added that he has worked to ensure all students have access to high-quality, affordable education and championed innovative teaching and learning strategies.

Padron, who was born in Cuba, transformed the two-year school into a full-blown college with more undergraduate students than any other university or college in the nation.

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“The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation’s highest civilian honor – it’s a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better,” said President Obama in a statement.

Miami Dade College President Eduardo Padron sits (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Miami Dade College President Eduardo Padron sits (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Padron was in good company at the ceremony. Among the 21 people who recieved the honor were Bill and Melinda Gates, Actors Tom Hanks and Robert De Niro, Singer Bruce Springsteen, Comedian Ellen DeGeneres, Musician Diana Ross and NBA Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan.

“These are folks who have helped made me who am and how I think about my presidency,” said President Obama, following the medal ceremony.  “In our difference, we find something common to share and what a great gift that is.”

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Watch the full ceremony below: