Summer 2018 graduates show perseverance and drive


For many of the nearly 4,300 students graduating this summer, the achievement comes after overcoming various life challenges in the pursuit of their degrees and dreams.

“These students truly represent the spirit of grit, determination and talent at our FIU,” said President Mark B. Rosenberg. “They have taken responsibility and exceeded expectations. We are proud of them.”

FIU will hold eight summer commencement ceremonies from July 29 – 31 at FIU’s Ocean Bank Convocation Center, 12000 SW 8th Street in West Miami-Dade. During those ceremonies, Rosenberg will recognize Worlds Ahead Graduates who have excelled academically, persevered despite obstacles and made a difference. They include:

  • The drugs and gang violence in Tre King’s North Miami Beach neighborhood didn’t stay in the streets, it touched his young life. He grew up never knowing his father and never knowing his mother sober. He was raised by his grandparents and it was a social worker who regularly visited him that influenced him to become a social worker himself. After graduating from school – something King thought he would never do – he went on to study at Miami Dade College before coming to FIU to earn his bachelor’s of science in social work. Then, he did something else he never thought he’d do – get a master’s degree. For the past several months, King has interned at Better Way of Miami, a local substance abuse treatment facility. After he graduates, King hopes to find a job in social work and continue making a difference in the lives of others. King will graduate on Sunday, July 29 at 3 p.m.
  • In the summer before his senior year, on July 11, 2010, Jordan Almendral’s dream of becoming a professional baseball player were shattered by a tragic car accident. Only blocks from his Westchester home, the SUV Jordan was riding in was in a serious crash and he was critically injured. Saved by an emergency brain surgery that was followed by spinal surgery, Almendral woke up from a coma after six weeks to learn he would never walk again. After months of physical therapy, Almendral completed high school and set his sights on a career in sports psychology. At FIU, Jordan’s classmates and professors saw his ability not his disability. Jordan wants to help athletes overcome any hurdles to success. He is searching for internships in sports psychology and wants to pursue a master’s degree. Almendral will graduate on Monday, July 30 at 3 p.m.
  • When Cindy Makita was 5, her sister Charlene saved her life by donating the bone marrow that cured Cindy’s sickle cell anemia. The months of hospitalization in her native South Africa were the seed for her belief that one should make the most of every opportunity, especially after a rough start. And she has. An Honors College graduate with a 3.88 GPA, Makita has served as president of the U.S. National Committee for UN Women Club at FIU, president of the Global Ambassadors Program, and is the founding vice president of FIU’s chapter of the National Society for Leadership and Success. Among other accomplishments, she’s also been a member of the Global Civic Engagement team and represented FIU at the Maldonado Global Scholars Program in New York. Since working at orphanages for girls in Johannesburg, Makita has become passionate about helping women economically and empowering girls. She wants to devote her time and talent to an international organization that will give her a chance to make a difference in their lives. Makita will graduate on Tuesday, July 31 at 10 a.m.

During the commencement ceremonies, the following guests will speak:

  • Thomas Cornish, FIU alumnus and senior executive vice president / COO of Bank United, will speak on July 29 at 10 a.m.
  • Ahmed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, chair and CEO of Health Authority of Abu Dhabi, will speak on July 29 at 3 p.m. when he will also receive an honorary doctorate of science degree.
  • Regynald Washington, FIU alumnus and CEO of Hojeij Branded Foods, will speak on July 29 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Grant Miller, publisher of Community Newspapers, will speak on July 30 at 10 a.m.
  • Daniel Perez, state representative for district 116, will speak on July 31 at 3 p.m.

Click here for a full list of Worlds Ahead Graduates.

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