Driven by the advice of the single mom who raised him, Gustavo McClain has taken an unconventional path to carve out a life that is uniquely suited to what’s in his heart as well as what’s in his head.

“Life was not always easy growing up in North Carolina, but my mom did the best she could against incredibly tough odds,” he says. “She always told me never to apologize for who I am, but also to remember to show people who I am by my actions.” 


Today, the 47-year-old is doing just that. He is a student in LIM College’s Master of Professional Studies degree program in The Business of Cannabis, and, at the same time, is Director of Workforce Training for the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (SoBro), a nonprofit organization that enhances the quality of life in the South Bronx by strengthening businesses and creating innovative economic, housing, educational, and career development programs. SoBro recently partnered with LIM to make educational opportunities more accessible to diverse students.

Gustavo’s path to SoBro was unique and came after he earned a bachelor’s degree at a college in Washington D.C. He ultimately landed in New York upon securing what he thought would be a dream position with the famed Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a global powerhouse in strategic business consulting.


“My head was definitely into the work at BCG and the professional opportunities that could be ahead. Yet, my heart was searching for something less easily defined…a passion for community. I have always felt a responsibility for helping people like me, who lacked economic and social advantages, to improve their lives through being trained for high quality jobs that can change the trajectory of their lives for generations.”


“I wanted to be involved in building community, so I left behind the beautiful corporate office and expensive business lunches to take my life in a new direction.”

Gustavo views the burgeoning cannabis industry as an amazing opportunity for himself and for his community.


“I am 100 percent against dangerous drug use and the crushing impact it can have on communities, but I saw in my own life that cannabis—used properly—can be essential for some adults. My mother used cannabis daily. She was very smart and hardworking and gave of herself to others in so many ways, yet she had debilitating anxiety. Cannabis helped curb the anxiety, allowing her to function better.”  


He notes that he, too, began using cannabis as an adult to address anxiety, and Gustavo believes that the legal cannabis industry being built today will hold the key to all kinds of jobs for people in his community.  


“Think about all the positions associated with a multi-billion-dollar industry,” Gustavo says. “Everything from security guards to supply chain and more will be in demand, and I want to play a role in bringing these opportunities to people by helping them prepare to succeed in them. Our community can lead the way to filling these jobs before others can rush in.” 


Gustavo believes his LIM master’s degree and the deep connections he is developing with the cannabis industry experts he is learning from and interacting with at the College will prepare him to one day build out a large staffing firm dedicated to the cannabis industry and bringing opportunities to people who may not have otherwise known they existed. 


“I love LIM. I am learning so much and building lasting relationships with experts in the field whom I’m sure will be supportive of me long after I’ve earned my degree and moved forward with my career. Education is everything, and I intend to earn additional degrees in the future in fields such as human capital and human resources. That may take me to other educational institutions, but LIM has been the right choice for my entrance into this totally new industry.”