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Pell Grants take center stage during Rosenberg’s visit to D.C.


In the midst of the national debate on reducing government spending and increasing the federal debt limit, FIU advocates led the higher education community this week, advocating for protecting Pell Grants and advancing FIU’s science and research profile at the White House Office of Science Technology Policy.

President Mark B. Rosenberg took charge at a news conference on Capitol Hill Tuesday, July 19, highlighting the importance of Pell Grants to the nation’s economic prosperity. He was joined by U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, both from Maryland, and seven other university presidents from institutions with significant minority populations.

A dozen FIU students were also in attendance, including SGC-MMC President Patrick O’Keefe and former-President of BBC SGA Cici Battle, now serving as FIU DC’s current intern. Battle helped explain to lawmakers how important Pell Grants are to students’ ability to achieve economic mobility and help the United States maintain a competitive labor force.

“Pell is the pillar of the American dream. Pell is essential for our students, and especially for those that are low-income and first generation,” said Rosenberg.

FIU’s Financial Aid Office reports, 48 percent of FIU undergraduate students received Pell Grants last academic year, and 78 percent of those are the first generation in their families to pursue higher education. In Miami-Dade County, 60,000 students at major universities and colleges currently receive Pell Grants.

While in D.C., Rosenberg visited the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Domestic Policy Council to relay FIU’s success at Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) Education and offer support for the administration’s research and education agenda. Collaborations between the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Education and College of Engineering and Computing are already transforming introductory science classes, engaging the K-12 community and positioning the university to serve as a national center of excellence in STEM education.

Rosenberg began his visit in the company of FIU students who are interning in D.C. and participating in the inaugural DC Capital Internship experience. The annual tradition gave students the opportunity to interact with Rosenberg, Vice President of Governmental Relations Steve Sauls and Vice President of Engagement Divina Grossman while reporting on the exciting work they are involved with in federal agencies and on Capitol Hill.

Joining the group were two alumni: Frank Reyes ’08, of the Naval Warfare Center, and Marco Suarez ’95, of the Homeland Security International Affairs Office. Both provided insight on how they set themselves apart from the pack, and used internships as a launching pad for careers in government.

Other activities of note:

  • Dean of Arts and Sciences Ken Furton and Professor Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm paid a special visit to the NASA Goddard Space Center to visit with FIU interns there this summer.
  • Vice President Grossman also joined Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Irma Becerra-Fernandez at the Economic Development Administration exploring opportunities for the Life Sciences Corridor Initiative-a collaboration between 8 colleges and universities in South Florida and economic development partners.

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