FIU graduates leverage their education to find solutions and make a real difference

FIU will celebrate the graduation of over 6,200 students at Spring Commencement on April 30 – May 1 at FIU Stadium. Among them are students who have leveraged their FIU education and personal experiences to find solutions to complex problems – from educating students about their congenital heart conditions to working on innovations that will keep power grids working in extreme weather.

They are among standout graduates who will be recognized as Real Triumphs Graduates. Shining examples of what makes FIU special, Real Triumphs Graduates are brilliant students who go above and beyond their educational requirements to make an impact in their community through research, entrepreneurship or leadership.

“Our excellent graduates are deserving of the highest praise as they utilize their education to propel them to fulfill their potential,” said FIU Interim President Kenneth A. Jessell. “Our Real Triumphs Graduates are particularly impressive as they do their utmost – some overcoming insurmountable odds – to make the world better.”

Real Triumphs Graduates include:

  • Amelia Raudales, 21, turned her experience as a survivor of childhood sexual assault into social and political action. Through FIU’s Diplomacy Lab, she conducted research for the State Department on trafficking, and as a congressional intern in Washington, D.C., she advocated for survivors’ rights. During the pandemic, she founded “Ame’s Crafts,” sewing facemasks and headbands and donating all profits to organizations addressing human trafficking. Raudales also created an app that enhances in-kind giving, helps alleviate poverty and fosters sustainability. Part of the Honors College, she dreams of becoming a lawyer to fight for victims of sexual assault. She will spend the summer at Harvard Law School studying for the LSAT. On Saturday, April 30 at 10 a.m., Raudales will graduate with a bachelor’s in international relations from the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs.
  • Despite being terminally ill and in hospice care, Tiffany Calestina, 34, will graduate with a master’s in hospitality and tourism management from the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management on Saturday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m. Diagnosed with a brain tumor that caused seizures, doctors tried and failed to remove the tumor, which caused vision and hearing loss on her right side. Calestina also suffers from multiple sclerosis, lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome, and had a mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite the constant pain, she is a positive force with a passion for events. She works as an events manager, coordinating weddings, corporate events, and parties. After graduation she wants to add to her event experience and work in the field of research or as a teacher.
  • Along with his mentor and FIU Engineering professor Arif Sarwat, Asadullah Khalid, 31,  led the development of the FIU Engineering Center’s microgrid – in partnership with FPL. Microgrid technology can address needs for resiliency that can save people’s lives by keeping electricity running safely through extreme weather events. Khalid’s work has led to 15 technical papers and a U.S. patent, with two patents pending. After graduation on Saturday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m., he will work for a start-up company, analyzing renewable battery and battery management systems in microgrids and electric vehicles. Khalid graduates with a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from the College of Engineering & Computing.
  • Combining her passion for forensics and biochemistry, Chantrell Frazier, 28, has received international funding to conduct her groundbreaking research on the chemical and biological aspects of human odor for forensic identification. Frazier also has been researching how human odors attract mosquitos, technology that will aid the fight against mosquito-borne diseases. The first black woman to earn her Ph.D. in biochemistry from FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences and Education, Frazier will join the faculty at Framingham State University as a postdoctoral teaching fellow in chemistry and hopes to encourage more women of color to pursue STEM degrees. She will graduate on Saturday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m.
  • After being diagnosed with a rare congenital heart disease (CHD) that needed immediate attention, Maria Segura, 30, traveled to Miami from her native Costa Rica to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital to undergo heart repair surgery. Because of her experience, she came up with an idea to help kids with CHDs learn about their disease and understand how doctors plan to help them. Through her work with members of TOM Global FIU, that idea became a reality called “Heart House,” a 3D-printed educational toy, that is now being used at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. Segura graduates on Saturday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m. with a master’s in interior architecture from the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts. After graduation, she plans to work in the interior design industry in Miami and Costa Rica.
FIU spring commencement will take place at FIU Stadium, 11310 SW 17 St., Miami, FL 33199. on Saturday, April 30 and Sunday May 1, 2022, with ceremonies at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. each day.

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