Ocean Bank supports diversity through a generous scholarship fund for accounting and finance students.

Standing, from left: Annabelle Rojas, director, external relations and resource development, Jimmie Beard, Laetitia Blanchard, Marc Phanord, Silrita Anderson, Anne Marie Colimon, Susan Duncan, Abdonlaye Dabo, and Bill Levin, assistant director, External Relations and Resource Development; sitting, from left: Yuni Navarro, vice president and human resources manager, Ocean Bank; Benigno F. Aguirre, senior vice president and human resources director, Ocean Bank; Joyce J. Elam, executive dean, College of Business Administration, and Luis Consuegra, chief legal officer and director, Ocean Bank.

Ocean Bank has demonstrated its commitment to diversity in the form of the Ocean Bank Scholarship Fund, a three-year, $60,000 allocation, to the FIU Foundation Inc. at Florida International University. Each year, $20,000 will be awarded to eight outstanding black or African-American accounting or finance students in the College of Business Administration. The group, which will be known as the Ocean Bank Scholars, will include four students from the Landon Undergraduate School of Business and four students in the Chapman Graduate School of Business.

“Our reputation is as a Hispanic bank, but we are committed to diversity,” said Yuni Navarro, vice president and human resources manager at Ocean Bank. “We want our employees and our customers to know that diversity is our number one goal for employment and for business today.”

The first Ocean Bank Scholars are Silrita Anderson, Jimmie Beard, Laetitia Blanchard, Anne Maire Colimon, Abdonlaye Dabo, Susan Duncan, Danelle Martin, and Marc Phanord.

“Scholarships provide us the opportunity to impact the lives of students who dream of continuing their education and making a positive difference in the world,” said Benigno F. Aguirre, Ocean Bank’s senior vice president and human resources director. “Everyone has a stake in supporting education. Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders. Students hear the message behind the money, the message that others see the promise of their potential and believe in their dreams.”

Ocean Bank decided to make the donation to the University for several reasons.

“We wanted to support the University because of its diversity, its size, and the fact that it’s local,” Navarro said. “We recruit from the University all the time and we want to sponsor those people who stay in our community, whether with us or with others.”

Aguirre, Navarro, and Luis Consuegra, chief legal officer and director of Ocean Bank, and seven of the eight recipients got to know each other at a luncheon held in the Faculty Club Gold Room on November 22, 2005. Executive Dean Joyce J. Elam, Annabelle Rojas, director, external relations and resource development, and William Levin, assistant director, represented the College.

“The event was wonderful,” Navarro said. “We got the chance to meet this talented group of individuals who are committed to our community and our profession. It gave us the opportunity to learn about their backgrounds. We also got to let them know who we are—a bank that’s just 23 years old but is one of the largest independent commercial banks headquartered in Florida, and local in the sense that our branches are only in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.”

Not only was the shared information useful, but also the experience underscored both the College’s and the bank’s commitment to diversity.

“We hear that Miami is a melting pot,” Navarro said. “Walking into the Faculty Club Gold Room and seeing such diversity was great.”

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