Mercy Ramirez (BBA ’05) and Jorge Munilla (BBA ’94)
Eleven years separate the graduations of Jorge Munilla (BBA ’94) and Mercy Ramirez (BBA ’05) but much brings them together. Each opted to take the BBA+ Weekend program, a flexible, value-added option offered in the College of Business Administration. Each continues to hold the college in high regard. And each works for the same organization: MCM Corporation—one of the largest Hispanic-owned construction companies in the United States.
“The program offers a unique environment and team feeling, with a cross-section of age groups,” said Munilla, president of MCM, which he owns and runs with his four brothers. “In a typical college setting, I would have taken my classes and left, but in the BBA+ Weekend, I saw the same people weekend after weekend, which enabled me to build friendships and lasting relationships.”
He recalls the serious attitude of everyone involved, too.
“Classmates are as determined as you are to finish. We all were eager to complete the degree,” he said. “Also, the professors were focused and passionate about the students and the courses they taught.”
Eleven years later, the benefits remain.
Ramirez, construction coordinator, who has been employed by MCM since 2004, took the program more than a decade later, but her reactions mirror Munilla’s.
“I was always encouraged to share with the class examples of how things worked in the real-life settings I encountered,” said Ramirez, who assists in marketing, accounting, human resources, and estimating, and who provides support in all phases of a project. “Our maturity meant that we could bring insights to our class discussions.”
Despite the span of time between when they were students, the continuity of the BBA+ program helped give them similar experiences, though the program has grown significantly.
“By drawing students with different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, we continue to afford them the kind of diversity Munilla remembers from the program’s first offering,” said Donald Roomes, director of the BBA+ program, which offers an early morning option—BBA+ Sunrise—as well as the weekend alternative.
However, there are significant changes.
“Today, the program is available on multiple campuses of the university; offers a blended version, in which some classes are taken online for added convenience; and includes a service project so that our students get firsthand experience on how to be responsible leaders in the global business environment,” Roomes said.
Different goals drive the two alumni.
Munilla and Ramirez have the same enthusiasm for the program and experienced many similarities while participating, but they pursued their degrees for different purposes. Ramirez had enrolled in classes at Florida International University in 1978, but had to leave to find a job. When he learned about the BBA+ Weekend program, he decided to complete his course work—not to get a job or a promotion but for the personal satisfaction.
“For me the journey was much more rewarding than the goal,” he said. “In addition, I wanted to set a good example for my children.”
Ramirez wanted to further her education, and the BBA+ Weekend delivered more than one payoff.
“I met several people in the industry and in the community who graduated from the BBA+ Weekend program and it is good to know others who have taken that same route,” she said. “Also, it was a contact I met through the program who helped me get my job.”
Now, she is continuing her education at the university, currently working on a Master of Science in Construction Management.
Munilla sees the value of efforts like hers.
“Individuals who have earned a degree have a different demeanor and approach to situations, and the employer knows that a degree holder has a high level of commitment,” he said. “They add value to our company—which has worked on significant public and private projects in South Florida, including commercial, educational, residential, civil, and retail projects—and allow us to present ourselves in a more favorable light.”
He also sees the value of the university.
“Florida International University continues to impress me with its explosive expansion of buildings, colleges, and the implementation of new programs,” he said. “We feel there’s a good fit between our culture and that of the university.”