By: Alexia Del Valle
Ruth and Glenn Hamilton are founders of and generous donors to the Make a Difference-DC scholarship program that provides stipends to deserving FIU students participating in internships in Washington, D.C, including four this semester. They have recently recommitted to supporting this fund for the next five years.
“If it wasn't for that scholarship, I wouldn't be interning here today,” said Daniel Lederman ’19, a Digital Media Communications major and current intern at Florida House on Capitol Hill and the Hispanic Communications Network, and recipient of the scholarship.
Lederman, fellow beneficiary Jordan Richardson ’20, a public administration major and intern for Representative Donna Shalala, and other fall interns had the opportunity to meet and thank the Hamiltons for their support, which allowed them to take advantage of opportunities that seemed inaccessible. The fund is also supporting two interns at federal agencies this semester: Luis Garcia Falcon ’20, a sustainability major who is interning at NASA, and Nicolas Otalora '19, an MPA student interning at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The beginning of a legacy
Ruth Hamilton’s FIU story began when she was in graduate school searching for full-time work.
“I was very involved in activities. I was booking concerts and speakers, so when FIU was hiring and I interviewed with them, I had the experience they were looking for,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton, who grew up in Peru and later immigrated to the United States, says that being bilingual was an advantage at the time since most students coming into the university were Spanish speakers.
Hamilton fit all of the qualifications that FIU was looking for, but little did anyone know how much of an impact their new employee would make for years to come.
Ruth gives interns a lesson on leadership during their a recent luncheon.
She began her time at FIU as the assistant director of student activities in 1980, just eight years after FIU opened its doors. She was then appointed the executive director of the Graham University Center in 1989.
Hamilton was a force to be reckoned with and ultimately lead the transformation of the student union, previously known as University House, to the vibrant Graham University Center we know today.
FIU had faith in Hamilton, and she took that faith in her as a motivation to make the Graham Center what it is today, a home for students and staff at the heart of the Modesto A. Maidique Campus.
Her husband Glenn is the president, CEO and founder of Amerimet, a processor, distributor and exporter of aluminum and steel coil sheet products. Known throughout Florida, the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America, Glenn has been highly successful as an executive and entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in the metals processing and manufacturing industry.
A scholarship that’s impacting lives
Since 2015, the Hamiltons have contributed a critical amount to help support the Make A Difference-DC fund.
Ruth and Glenn Hamilton pose with scholarship beneficiaries Jordan Richardson and Daniel Lederman.
Over half of FIU student students are the first in their families to attend college, and nearly 50 percent of undergrads depend on financial aid to support their studies.
“A lot of students were offered internships but didn’t have the funds to participate," said Ruth of the expenses--a flight to D.C. from Miami, housing--that come with moving to a new city to take such an opporutnity.
Ruth was always an activist for students with financial need. Her contributions began with the First Generation Fund and she continued to fight for those who couldn’t afford college.
In one case, she recalled, “We had a student who was accepted into medical school and didn’t have the money to attend, so I went door to door and asked for money, $100 here and $200 there so we could send that student to school.”
Learning leadership from the Hamiltons
On October 7 students in D.C. had the pleasure of enjoying lunch with the Hamiltons. The couple shared their own personal life experiences and wisdom on leadership.
Ruth Hamilton and her husband Glenn give students words of encouragement from their own personal experiences.
“Be genuine and caring as leaders," Ruth advised the students. "It is the best way to earn the trust of those you are leading.”
And Glenn added, “Figure out your dreams and goals, the earlier the better. Sometimes they take a while to figure out!”