In an event fit for Gatsby himself, FIU created an atmosphere of prestige, pride, and encouragement during the Worlds Ahead Tour’s stop in New York City. Held within the wooden walls and banisters of The Plaza Hotel’s famed Oak Room, the night offered a taste of Miami culture, featuring traditional Miami cuisine and South Beach-inspired music and décor, meant to inspire and entice prospective students, while creating a sense of nostalgia for alumni now living in the Greater New York region.
Aside from seeing President Rosenberg become teary-eyed with pride while speaking to the nearly 200 Panthers in attendance, the most important part of this event for me was listening to these Panthers’ stories. Two of those stories were shared by the celebrity Panthers in attendance—former FIU Basketball standout and NBA player Raja Bell and our favorite TV detective and star of Law & Order SVU Danny Pino. It was also encouraging to speak with some of the FIU College of Business students recognized by President Rosenberg who were in New York visiting companies directed by FIU alumni.
Throughout all these inspiring stories, I couldn’t help but notice an underlying theme—the DNA of a FIU Panther: that eternal quest for knowledge, unparalleled self-awareness and unquenchable thirst for self-improvement. All these stories unified themselves like a string of pearls. It is the backbone of our graduates—to bite off more than we can chew, to test our might. That self-awareness that knows “I am more than capable.” As Panthers, this attitude is ingrained in us all.
You realize rather quickly once you leave Miami how small of a town it is. As the night went on, I made new friends, reconnected with old friends and recalled memories of my time at FIU. I’m not sure if my transition and acclimation to New York would have gone so well without the unconditional support and help of my fellow Panthers—a resource that goes untapped by many graduates. And as my own journey and move to New York came flooding back to me, I couldn’t help but want to give back, to proactively help FIU students, alumni, prospective students and future graduates in any capacity.
Events like the Worlds Ahead Tour NYC help to strengthen the bond between old college friends and rekindle the Panther Pride within alumni who haven’t been connected with the university since graduation. With all of the great news being shared about how FIU has grown and continues to grow every year—highlighted by the exciting Worlds Ahead video shown during the program—I am confident that even more Panthers were inspired to take on President Rosenberg’s challenge to get involved and give back—I know I was.
Edward J. Vilardell, ‘12
FIU Alumni Association Greater NY Chapter