Community members offer students unique insights into their chosen fields

Local professionals filling a need

Having a professional architect help with your master’s project can take your work to another level.

Students get just that opportunity in professor Jaime Canaves’ graduate architecture course. Their mission: to research and redesign the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

For the past two years, Canaves’ students have worked side-by-side with professional architects employed at Bermello Ajamil & Partners, Inc. They present their research and design models to principal Willy Bermello and his partners at various points throughout the process to gain feedback. They also have direct phone and email access to design experts and specialists within the firm who offer guidance and advice.

Antuhan Gonzalez ’16, who designed a cruise terminal for his project, says the opportunity to gain a level of real-world experience by consulting with someone already in the eld proved invaluable to his career development.

“By receiving advice and guidance from the professional team, we were able to turn our theoretical ideas into functional realities and practices,” Gonzalez says. “The contact with the working reality gave us more interest in and love for architecture.”

Bermello–pictured above, left, with Gonzalez–says, “It prepares them for real-world situations with practical experience, where theory is important but takes a definite back seat.”

And it gets students jobs. Bermello and his associates have been so impressed by the quality of work produced by Canaves’ class that the firm has offered students positions at the conclusion of the course. Gonzalez went straight to work as an architect in the Miami office after graduation this year.

“We have had excellent experiences with FIU graduates,” Bermello says. “They are talented with a good work ethic, and ambitious, too.”

layla-quoteSneak peek at the future

Acquiring insight into the medical profession, especially early in their studies, gives medical students an understanding of the commitment they’re making to years of schooling and the challenges within a lifetime of service to others.

Fourth-year medical student Layla Cavitt got an insider’s view from Dr. Susan Dombrowsky. The two met through a program in the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine that pairs first-year students with doctors in their specialties of interest.

Dombrowsky, a family practitioner who began her career at a time when female doctors were not common, introduced Cavitt to her colleagues in other specialties so the student could explore a variety of career options and build her professional network.

“She told me, don’t pick a specialty because of money. Go into something you really love that gets you up in the morning,” Cavitt says. “And don’t burn any bridges. It’s a small world and relationships really matter.”

Read more about mentoring: Alumni sharing life lessons

Dombrowsky suggested meaningful reading material about the profession to Cavitt. And the two watched a TED Talk together on the value of doctors’ taking into account not just patients’ health histories but their unique lives and circumstances. “She reminded me,” Cavitt says, “to focus on the humanistic aspect of medicine.”

Dombrowsky died at age 72 earlier this year, but not before inspiring Cavitt to participate in the medical school’s peer mentoring program. She is now helping a third-year student map out her own future.

“I think it’s just easy to get overwhelmed looking ahead at courses and wondering how you’re going to get through this,” says Cavitt, who ultimately decided on family medicine. But leaning on someone else helps, she adds. “It gives you perspective that we’re all going to get through this.”