Very Important Panther: Adriana Pereira-Reyes ’05

Adriana Pereira-Reyes ’05

Senior Director of Community Relations, Walmart

Q: When FIU requested bed sheets to cover cots in a campus special-needs shelter for Monroe County hurricane evacuees, you and Walmart came through. Why?

A: At Walmart, we work every day to offer meaningful support to the communities we serve. Helping my alma mater was not only an opportunity for my company but also for me on a personal level. I did not hesitate to do a small part for an institution that has done so much for me and our community. Partnerships like this speak to the amazing things that can happen when people come together and focus on the greater good.

Q: Did you have any FIU experiences that drove home the value of a community-oriented approach to living?

A: Days after graduation, I started an internship at what is now FIU in D.C. I left the familiarity and comfort of home in Miami and took a blind leap of faith in Washington, in the middle of winter. I thought I would have to navigate a new life alone but I quickly realized I was in very good company. I found myself surrounded by an amazing and talented group of FIU alumni who did not hesitate to lend a hand. For me, that experience defined community. We had FIU in common and that was enough to build camaraderie, a support system and friendships.

Q: Is there someone in particular who encouraged you to work on behalf of others?

A: My father recently passed away and at his funeral I delivered a eulogy centered on selflessness. It is the best lesson my father taught me. His life’s work was driven by a passion to help people, especially those less fortunate. I strive every day to personify his legacy by putting others first.

Q: Your degree in mass communication led you, eventually, to the directorship of FIU’s Governmental Relations and, today, a position as spokesperson for Walmart. Which lessons best prepared you for this work?

A: Much of my success, both personal and professional, I owe to FIU. Every step I’ve taken and every corner I’ve turned can trace back to FIU, but it was actually the lessons outside of the classroom that best prepared me for the real world. The internship opportunities, the campus involvement, and the interactions with administrators, faculty, staff and alumni all shaped who I am today. At FIU, I was constantly reminded that my true self is the best one, dreams are limitless and challenges are meant to be overcome.

Q: You are mom to 1-year-old Matthew. What will you teach him about finding satisfaction and happiness?

A: My mother always taught me that an education and knowledge are two things that can never be taken from you. I want my son to appreciate that and spend his life learning. I also want him to be prepared for life’s curveballs. You can plan all you want, but always be ready for the surprises, and embrace them!