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FIU graduates forge their future through persistence and scholarship

FIU graduates forge their future through persistence and scholarship

December 6, 2023 at 3:45pm

This fall, FIU will celebrate the accomplishments of almost 6,000 students during nine commencement ceremonies Dec. 10 – Dec. 13. The graduates include driven, forward-thinking students who are making a difference through their unwavering commitment, cutting-edge research and innovative approaches.

They include a marine biologist whose activism has inspired and educated the community on the pressing impact of plastic pollution and water quality, an engineer whose research is utilizing nanotechnology for precise drug delivery targeting cancer cells, and a biomedical scientist whose research has contributed to better malaria vaccines. These students will be among those recognized as Outstanding Graduates during the ceremonies.

“Our graduates continue to reach new heights, using their education to make remarkable contributions to the community,” said FIU President Kenneth A. Jessell. “Panthers everywhere can be proud of our forward-thinking, innovative, unstoppable graduates.”

Outstanding Graduates include:
  • Amanda Di Perna, 21, is determined to make a difference through her activism in conservation and sustainability. Throughout her undergraduate career she focused on studying plastic pollution and its effects on marine organisms, including the prevalence and effects of plastics in Florida. Di Perna has coordinated bi-weekly costal clean-ups across Miami-Dade County, advocated for regulation of single-use plastics to the Florida Legislature, and championed the “Plastics if you Ask” campaign on campus. Among her accomplishments she has served as a Chef Andrew Scholar for Debris Free Oceans, educating students on plastic pollution. DiPerna graduates with a bachelor’s degree in marine biology on Monday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Julian Ramelow, 26, has made important contributions in the battle against malaria, a potentially fatal disease that afflicts more than 200 million people each year worldwide. A native of Germany who is the first in his family to graduate from college, Ramelow contributed to a groundbreaking discovery, unlocking a new protein interaction that could help enhance malaria vaccines. When looking toward the future, Ramelow hopes to become the director of a top pharmaceutical company, where he can help drive the development of new drugs and treatments to improve health care. Ramelow will receive a Ph.D. in biomedical science on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 10 a.m.

  • Matty Sey, 23, has participated in FIU’s TRIO programs, which support the academic success of first-generation students, since the 5th grade. She realized engineering was her calling when she first learned about nanomaterials. As an undergraduate, Sey worked on nanotechnology to deliver medications through the bloodstream to target and eliminate cancer cells. Sey was inducted into the prestigious undergraduate research program of Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program and interned with the Idaho National Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory. After graduation, Sey will pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at FIU. Sey graduates with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering on Wednesday, Dec. 13 at 3 p.m.
While not officially recognized as an FIU “Outstanding Graduate,” Jazmin Locke is contributing to environmental resilience and climate tech through her research. She is working on a novel way to reduce the number of pollutants pouring into Biscayne Bay. She led a study that found flowers grown on floating mats remove pollutants like phosphorous and nitrogen — that can contribute to algal blooms and fish kills — from the water and could be a sustainable way to both beautify waterways and keep them healthy. Locke, who is receiving her Ph.D. in Earth systems science, will walk across the stage on Monday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m.

Chancellor of the State University System of Florida Raymond Rodrigues will speak at the 2 p.m. ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 10. Rodrigues leads the State University System of Florida, acting as the liaison between notable state entities such as the Board of Governors, the State Legislature and other agencies. Prior to serving as chancellor, Rodrigues worked on higher education policy throughout his career as a legislator in the Florida House and Senate.

Former Coral Gables Mayor and FIU alumnus Don Slesnick will receive the FIU Medallion for Outstanding Alumnus during the 3 p.m. ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 12. A prominent local Panther, Slesnick earned a Master of Public Administration from FIU. Slesnick, managing partner for the law firm of Slesnick & Casey, has been in private practice since 1975, representing public sector employee organizations. Prior to this he held management positions with Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the Miami-Dade County Police Department. Slesnick also served during the Vietnam War and as a nuclear weapons advisor to NATO forces in Germany.

All commencement ceremonies will be held at the Ocean Bank Convocation Center, located at FIU’s West Miami Dade Campus at 11200 SW 8th St., Miami, 33199.

Video clips and photos for media use will be uploaded to this folder, which will be updated periodically during graduation days with new images and videos.

For more about FIU’s exceptional graduates, visit the Outstanding Graduates webpage.