Michelle Jo-Arencivia demonstrates the value of determination.

Michelle Jo-Arencivia

Michelle Jo-Arencivia’s (BBA ’00) unique story represents an amazing turnaround and a demonstration of determination.

She dropped out of high school at the age of 16 and now, at 29, has a GED, a business degree from Florida International University with a certificate in Latin Américan and Caribbean Studies, and an honors certificate in intensive Spanish from the Universidad Pontificia in Salamanca, Spain. Currently, she is pursuing a master’s degree in international management from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona as a merit scholar. She was also profiled in the U.S. News & World Report’s recent issue on “America’s Best Graduate Schools—2008.”

Educational accomplishments are only half of what makes her an impressive young woman.

Jo-Arencivia has enjoyed a variety of business experiences during her career, including working for the airline industry, a major real estate developer, a cabaret show, and a telecommunications real estate private trust.

Shortly after her graduation from Florida International University, she stepped into a new role at the San Francisco, California, headquarters of the Wine Institute. At the nation’s oldest and largest winery trade association, she thrived in the State Relations Department as assistant treasurer for the Wine Institute’s Political Action Committee. It was there that she met the CEOs of different wineries.

“It was inspiring to deal with the level of business minds they exhibited,” she said.

Today, Jo-Arencivia aspires to become the first female Latina CEO of a Fortune 1000 company. She sees the need for Hispanics to play a more active role in the decision-making process for consumer products as well as to increase their board room representation.

“The number of Hispanics who hold seats in board rooms is far disproportional to the percent of the U.S. population they comprise and is not reflective of their consumer purchasing power,” she said.

Her dream to become a CEO has propelled her involvement in associations that support higher education for women and Hispanics. She is a board member of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs’ Phoenix Chapter and is a member of The National Association of Women MBAs—an organization dedicated to empowering and advancing women into leadership positions in corporate America to enhance the diversity of the nation’s workforce.

Jo-Arencivia is grateful for her time at Florida International University and glad that the university is getting more recognition these days.

“I see big changes happening, and the seeds that have been planted over the last few years are sprouting,” she said. “I am proud to be a Golden Panther. I have so much love for the university, and I consider myself to be an ambassador for the school. It is such a great family to belong to.”

Jo-Arencivia is a bright young woman who definitely is going places.

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