Family and friends watched with pride as about 1,300 FIU College of Business students joined the alumni ranks at two summer 2019 commencement ceremonies on July 28, 2019. More than 550 master’s and PhD degrees were awarded, along with some 750 undergraduate degrees.
FIU Business Dean Joanne Li and FIU President Mark Rosenberg greeted the graduates as they walked the stage. FIU Business faculty members S. Christopher Ellis, Donald Roomes and Louis Melbourne sang the National Anthem and the FIU Alma Mater at both ceremonies.
The first ceremony included commencement speaker Michael A. Finney, president and CEO of The Miami-Dade Beacon Council. He shared his story of overcoming obstacles and acknowledged the impact of hard work and accomplishments of FIU students. He urged them to enter public service and take leadership roles.
“You are clearly showing your leadership, right here at FIU,” he said.
At the afternoon ceremony, FIU Board of Trustees Vice Chair Jose J. Armas addressed the graduates, urging them to listen to their hearts when it comes to making life decisions, and give back to their community.
Worlds Ahead graduates honored.
The two ceremonies also recognized four Worlds Ahead honorees, distinguished students who overcame unique challenges.
Andy Ruiz Canal came to Miami from Cuba in 2015 in pursuit of the American dream. He learned English and, driven by his passion for accounting, sought out mentors who could shed light on the educational system in America. When someone directed him to FIU, he was immediately blown away by its accounting department and enrolled. While maintaining dean’s list honors, Andy interned in the international tax department at Kaufman Rossin. After graduation, he will work there full time and begin his graduate studies in FIU’s Master of Accounting Taxation program.
Twenty years after earning her associate degree, Lisa Gray was managing a condo building in South Florida when she decided she wanted to become the first person in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree. Lisa started classes at FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management with the goal of opening her own company. Sure enough, in a year’s time, Lisa had launched her first business, a profitable real estate and brokerage firm. She headed for her MBA at FIU Business and started a second company, a thriving property management firm that offers customized approaches and small business assistance to the community associations.
Kevin Leyva graduated from high school with poor grades and failed out of various college programs, but with the help of an FIU advisor, he turned his academic life around. Kevin regularly earned a spot on the dean’s list while still working full-time in sales and marketing for an artificial intelligence start-up firm. Now, Kevin is following his passion and heading to the University of Southern California for a master’s degree in film and television production. His ultimate goal is to direct a motion picture.
Alberto Garcia Marrero arrived in the United States from Cuba at age 3, and knew he wanted a career in law early in life. Alberto was instrumental in establishing an FIU branch of Phi Delta Phi, the international legal honor society, because he wanted to make sure other first-generation college students saw the law as an achievable aspiration. After helping his parents successfully navigate a mortgage dispute with a bank, complete with a trial, he was further drawn to a legal career. Alberto now plans to start the MBA program at FIU Business and apply to law schools.
Two staff graduates added a new degree to their credentials:
Clarissa Bell (BS Hospitality Management ’18), temporary HR coordinator in the Office of Human Resources Management, received her Master of Science in Human Resource Management.
Carlos Andres Neira, student assistant in the Department of International Business, received his Bachelor of Business Administration in both International Business and Marketing. He will take on the role of junior web developer for the School of Computing and Information Sciences at FIU.