“Welcome to Fall 2019!”: A message from Board President Michael Hernandez ’04, MPA ’11

Michael Hernandez '04, MPA '11, with FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg, following Hernandez's induction as Alumni Association Board of Directors President in June 2019.

“A college education is for life – but it doesn’t end once you’ve received your diploma or paid those outstanding parking tickets! It’s a connection for life,” says Alumni Association Board of Directors President Michael Hernandez.

As FIU ushers in a new academic year this week and welcomes thousands of new and returning Panthers to campus, Hernandez shared his thoughts and goals for the Alumni Association. Here’s what he’s looking forward to this year, from a promising FIU Football season (complete with exciting, family friendly Panther Fan Tailgates hosted by the Alumni Association), to the future success of FIU’s Next Horizon campaign, which is propelling the university toward a better, bolder future.

Q: What’s in store for the Alumni Association and its Board of Directors this year? What are your goals?
A: Your Alumni Association is hard at work fundraising for student scholarships, recruiting new board members, growing our alumni networks around the country and supporting Next Horizon: The Campaign for FIU. Evidence of our commitment came this summer when Alumni Association board members donated approximately $20,000 for student scholarships that are awarded by the Office of Alumni Relations. Our 19-member, volunteer board of directors’ goals for the 2019-2020 academic year are:

  1. Raise $100,000 for student scholarships and the Next Horizon campaign
  2. Strengthen our alumni networks across the country by increasing engagement with our graduates who live in those communities and their participation in our alumni association
  3. Strengthen the alumni association’s relationship with current students by including SGA leaders as members of our organization’s leadership and in our decision making

Q: What are you most excited about for the upcoming year?
A: It’s difficult to narrow it down to just one event that I’m most excited for. I’ll go with our inevitable Conference USA championship for our Butch Davis-led football program and news that our university has reached its goal of raising $750 million in its Next Horizon fundraising campaign. Yes, I’m ambitious and optimistic!

Q: You are serving as Honorary Alumni Chair of the Homecoming committee this year. What can alumni look forward to during Homecoming Week, as well as throughout the whole 2019 FIU Football season?
A: We are asking all our graduates to re-engage with your alma mater 365 days per year, but especially during Homecoming Week. Your Alumni Association will be co-hosting family-friendly events for all to enjoy and reconnect with fellow graduates, university leaders and your former professors. Our most important event that week is without question our Homecoming game at The Cage! Our student-athletes work hard year round in the classroom and on the gridiron. They deserve to look up at the stands and see every seat filled with supporters.

There are no more excuses – we have a football program coming off of a record-setting nine-win season, which included our first bowl game victory since 2010 and legendary head coach Butch Davis leading it! FIU offers a wonderful game day experience and a first class stadium for all to enjoy. We need our alumni to come out strong to Riccardo Silva Stadium and support our student-athletes and university!

Hernandez, left, introduces members of the FIU Football team and Head Coach Butch Davis, right, to a crowd of alumni and family at the annual FIU Alumni Association fishing tournament, which this year raised $10,000 for the Football Excellence Fund.

Q: Alumni are making moves in support of the university every day. Can you share some highlights and successes already achieved this year?
A: This summer, your Alumni Association Board of Directors raised approximately $20,000 for student scholarships – a first for our organization! Three of our board members have launched a mentoring program for undergraduates to be introduced to successful alumni throughout South Florida who can offer career development advice and internships. And our leadership is actively engaged with Dr. Rosenberg and leaders to support FIU’s mission. Alumni Association leaders have all also purchased season tickets for our football program and will be active at our tailgates and university events throughout the Fall semester.

We ask all our graduates and students to contact the Office of Alumni Relations and offer to work with us to strengthen our relationship with undergraduates and graduates of our FIU.

Q: Why is it so important for alumni to stay engaged with their alma mater? 
A: A college education is for life – but it doesn’t end once you’ve received your diploma or paid those outstanding parking tickets! It’s a connection for life. FIU provided hundreds of thousands with the opportunity to earn a quality education at an affordable price in beautiful Miami. It has become a solutions center for not only South Florida, but for the world! We are a Worlds Ahead institution that should be supported by our graduates because of what it has done for all of us.

Q: What advice can you offer to an alum who is looking to get involved at FIU?
A: Contact our Alumni Association or me directly! Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter – however. What’s important is getting in touch and offering to support your university and its Alumni Association. Many graduates make recommendations on what the Office of Alumni Relations and our board of directors can improve on – and we welcome that! Just contact us.

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