Carmen M. Reinhart ’78
• Minos A. Zombanakis Professor of the International Financial System at the Harvard Kennedy School
• Lifetime Member, FIU Alumni Association
• Bachelor’s in business administration and accounting
Q. What was your time at FIU like?
A. Those were such wonderful years full of good memories. I was working as a ticket agent for Eastern Air Lines at a branch on South Beach before the beach was trendy and what it is today, and I was going to school full time. That was the time I decided I wanted to go into economics. I had such wonderful professors who I still keep in touch with, like Raul Moncarz and Peter Montiel, who was my advisor.
Q. Like many in the FIU family, you were born in Cuba and came to the United States as a child with your family. How did that early experience influence your life?
A. I was 10 years old when we first arrived in the United States. We went to California and lived in Pasadena for a while before we settled in South Florida. It was life changing – I had to learn a new language and make new friends, and it wasn’t easy because I was very sick that first year. Looking back on it, it was a character-building experience, and I admire the guts that my parents had to leave Cuba and come here. But being an immigrant stays with you forever, and I am happy that my son didn’t have to go through the same.
Q. What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
A. After the upheaval of moving to America, my parents always told me my education would be the one thing I would always be able to take with me. I learned early on I should put a premium on education, and I do. Education – and not just formal education but experiential education – only adds to your human capital.
Q. The New York Times called you “the most important female economist in the world.” What do you hope will be your legacy as an economist?
A. For many decades the popular belief was that the financial crises like the ones that we are seeing in the United States and in Europe now were exclusive to emerging markets in developing countries. My greatest hope is that my work, the work that I have been doing for more than 20 years, informs an understanding of these crises.
Q. What is your proudest accomplishment?
A. I’ve always been very proud of my perseverance. To be persistent, I learned early on in life, serves anyone well.
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