–By Monica Smith for FIU News
Education changes lives. It’s been said that the decision to pursue a college degree is an investment. For some, the investment provides immediate benefits and for others it can help in many professional ways.
These students and alumni share how the decision to pursue an FIU degree—100 percent online—helped them achieve their goals.
Felix Virto ’18—program manager of integration, network deployment integration at Crown Castle—was responsible for the 5G infrastructure used for the 2020 Super Bowl in Miami. He says his M.S. in Engineering Management: Enterprise Systems offers him great confidence.
“All of my work was based on what I learned to obtain my degree at FIU. I would have never been able to produce the level of detail and quality in my work had I not taken the courses within my engineering management program,” he says.
Many FIU schools and colleges offer internships to students who may have the opportunity to turn a temporary position into a permanent one. This is the case for Master of Health Services Administration alumnus Shahid Ullah ’19.
“I started as an intern shadowing the COO of John Knox and was hired as an entry-level manager. FIU has a reputation in producing good health care professionals,” says Ullah, who is now a senior accountant for John Knox Village of Florida.
4. Set an example
As a single mom, Chelsea Bermudez knew she had to set an example for her daughter who frequently spoke about her future and what it would look like.
“The conversation made me reevaluate my education,” she admits. Bermudez ’21 will continue her studies at FIU; she was recently accepted to the online Master of Arts in Latin American and Caribbean Studies for the fall 2021 term.
5. Career change
Dr. Tamelia Lakraj-Edwards ’21 decided to augment her medical career with the online Master of Public Health degree to help more patients.
“There’s a difference in being in an office and treating patients and only reaching 20 to 35 people a day versus being able to work with an entire population. I wanted to pursue my MPH degree to make a greater impact and treat more people at one time,” says Dr. Lakraj-Edwards.“I am learning to be a liaison and advocate for every person in a community through integrative and value-based care for greater impact.”
6. Global mindset
FIU works hard to provide its students with a global view through its Global Learning Medallion program. According to Alex Martinez Riviera ’20, a Global Learning Medallion recipient, one reason FIU offers a global view is because of its location.
“FIU is in Miami, which is a melting pot of culture and communication and you get the Miami ‘flavor’ from the professors, which you don’t get from other universities,” says the International Relations major and aviation contributing writer for captainjetson.com.
7. Flexible for life balance
Online learning offers flexibility for life balance. For Theodore Moore ’14, who pursued his master’s degree in hospitality management online, this aspect helped him continue his professional path.
“What spoke to me the most with FIU was the curriculum and the layout of the courses with eight weeks for each class. This worked well with my schedule and lifestyle. I could have the flexibility I needed to make deadlines, while also being able to be successful with my career and other interests,” says Moore, opening director of style at AC Hotel in Fort Lauderdale.
When Alexander Melcon ’15 started looking for his first position in Miami after graduation, he found there was great interest in his master’s degree in engineering management. Currently, he is a health and wealth business analyst at ADP.
“The master’s degree from FIU—It gets you noticed, and a master’s degree is very valuable. You stand out from the crowd. This degree intrigued a lot of managers when I was interviewing. It’s not your typical MBA. The engineering management degree set me apart,” he says.
For some graduates, like Hollie Gow ’08, a degree is a catalyst for a career and lifelong learning.
“The fully online RN to BSN degree program created the foundation for the rest of my career,” she says. Gow continued her studies to earn her doctoral degree in nursing practice (DNP) and is currently the director of professional nursing practice standards for the Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Hospital.
10. Build soft skills and communication
With online learning, students need support from family and friends, says Alshima Shuaib, who thanks her parents and mentors. However, Shuaib credits her online program for the opportunity to perfect communication strategies, especially crucial in a remote-work world. A current Master of Public Health student, Shuaib says that with the Career Engage micro-credential badging program offered to FIU’s public health students, she developed applicable and vital skills.
“The thing I liked most about the program, in addition to the hard skills, were the soft skills I learned. Communication is more important now than ever,” Shuaib says. “The program prepared and allowed me to apply what I’ve learned and integrate that with my on-the-job training.”