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FIU to graduate thousands ready to make their mark


More than 4,000 students will receive their bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees next week during three days of graduation ceremonies at FIU.

Among them will be newlyweds who traveled far to find love in the biology lab; a young woman who had to overcome an abusive home, foster care and court battles on her way to realizing her dream of a college education; and many others who are being recognized as World Ahead Graduates for their achievements.

“Our students inspire me every day because they are hard-working, committed and passionate about their studies,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg, who will preside over commencement Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 10 through 12, 2012. “I am proud of our graduates. They are some of the most determined students in the world.”

Sat Gavassa Becerra and Justin Campbell met while pursuing their Ph.Ds in biological sciences at FIU. Originally from Colombia, Gavassa grew up on a farm with no electricity and limited access to traditional schooling. Yet, she became interested in science and pursued it — all the way to a doctorate.

Campbell, a native of New York City, stumbled onto biology after having studied engineering and, like Gavassa, was captivated by the marine environment.

After dating for five years while studying at FIU, this summer they tied the knot in Bogota. They will graduate during the 3p.m.  Monday ceremony.

Carol Roman, 21, overcame challenges of a different kind: She arrived in Miami from Peru at age 2. By age 12, she found herself in the middle of her first court battle, prompted by allegations that her father abused her. Her home life continued to deteriorate, and at 16, she entered her second court battle related to allegations of sexual abuse against her father. While still a teenager, Roman went to live with relatives.

Despite a non-traditional academic trajectory that involved home schooling and self-teaching, Roman took dual enrollment courses and came to FIU in 2010 to join the Honors College with several college credits already to her name. She moved into university housing and carried heavy academic loads year-round, completing her bachelor’s degree in Asian studies in two years. Roman plans to stay at FIU to pursue a master’s in Asian studies and hopes to teach and work to combat human trafficking in Asia.

“I find I have a connection to that world. I understand the sense of isolation and helplessness,” said Roman. “I would like to make a difference.”

Roman will receive her degree at the 10 a.m. Monday ceremony.

Other graduates will be recognized as Worlds Ahead Graduates for their exceptional accomplishments.

The fall graduation ceremony and honorees’ schedule is as follows:

Monday, December 10, 2012

10:00 a.m.
College of Arts & Sciences – School of International and Public Affairs
Honorees: Tom and Blanca Riley, FIU Medallion

3:00 p.m.
College of Arts & Sciences – School of Environment, Arts and Society

7:30 p.m.
College of Arts & Sciences – School of Integrated Sciences and Humanity
School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

10:00 a.m.
Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work
College of Nursing and Health Sciences
College of Education
Honoree: Bruce Hayden, FIU Medallion
Speaker:  Alexandre Lopes

3:00 p.m.
College of Architecture + The Arts
College of Engineering and Computing
Honoree: Robert Epling, FIU Medallion

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

10:00 a.m.
College of Business – Landon Undergraduate School of Business

3:00 p.m.
College of Business – Chapman Graduate School
Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
Honorees: Angela M. Martinez and Raul A. Chavez, FIU Medallion