FIYou: Lynda Rodriguez

8-300x200Name: Lynda Rodriguez

Hometown: Weehawken, New Jersey

Job Title/Department: Director, Commencement and Ceremonies – Community Relations, Protocol and Special Events, Division of External Relations

Location/Campus: PC 519, MMC

In a nutshell:
I plan the major ceremonies at FIU. My main function is to coordinate the summer, fall and spring commencement ceremonies. By no means do I do this alone. Gitta Montoto, in the Office of the Provost, and I are the co-chairs of the commencement committee, which brings together more than 20 different colleagues from around the university. I also manage a small ceremonies team, Cameron Jones and our fabulous student, Gabi Sagastume. Right now we are working on the upcoming Faculty Convocation.

Number of years at FIU: 11 years (9 full time, 2 as OPS)

What do you enjoy most about your job?
There is something very gratifying about seeing people enjoy themselves at our events. Seeing grandmothers with tears of joy in their eyes at commencement is very moving. Also, working with a dedicated and friendly team to pull off these high-level events can be a lot of fun too.

What should students and your fellow faculty/staff should know about your department?
We had the 200,000th graduate accept a degree at this past spring commencement ceremony. Wonderful milestone for FIU!

Where is your favorite spot on campus?
Our office kitchen at 3 o’clock when the “cafecito” bell rings

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about FIU?
Aside from the world-class curriculum and facilities, the FIU campus itself provides a wonderful environment for all to enjoy. A perfect balance of nature and architecture–with its grassy fields and swirling walkways, rocking benches and tranquil fountain–it’s no wonder students love learning here and people love working here.

How do you help make FIU “Worlds Ahead”?
When we travel to conferences and compare notes with other universities, we really get to see just how first-rate our commencement ceremonies are. My goal is always to make sure that we are leaving a proud and lasting impression on our graduates and their families!

Family snapshot:
My husband Carlos, my 4-year old son Gabriel and my 2-year old daughter Victoria

Word that best describes you: Optimistic

First paying job:
Working in my aunt’s dental office as her assistant

Favorite TV show:
Caillou, Little Einstein’s–oh, wait! You asked for my favorite show, not my kids’. Whenever I get a chance to watch TV, I like Grey’s Anatomy and Modern Family.

What is playing on your iPod?
The Beatles, Bruno Mars, Gotye. It’s very eclectic.

Favorite off-campus dining spot:
Siam Palace–they have a great soup on Monday and Thursday, and they are very fast!

Your proudest accomplishment:
Aside from my beautiful children, of course, I’d have to say becoming director of commencement and ceremonies. Thanks to my supervisor, Dania, for seeing my potential! I had a wonderful mentor–my former boss, now retired, Josefina Cagigal–who taught me that the devil is in the detail.

What do you do when you are not working at FIU?
I love to spend time with my family, simple as that. My kids are at a great age, and they are so much fun to play with, go places together and just hang around.