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In July 2018, after just ten months, Benjamin Paul graduated with a master’s degree in marketing from Florida International University (FIU).

The pace at which he completed his degree is all the more impressive when you learn he was working full time as a career specialist at a local college. But more impressively, he did it as a single father.

Ben’s daughter, Harmony, was only eight years old at the time. When chatting with Ben, you soon begin to understand how a father’s motivation to provide and set an example for his daughter was key to his perseverance.  “I knew I needed a degree to get to the next level in my career and support my daughter,” Ben told us. Still, he wondered how he would pull it off. “I didn’t even have time to hit the gym,” he added. 

Soon, Ben came across a catalog featuring the Master of Science in Marketing program offered by the College of Business at FIU. Though he was still unsure about how he would juggle his responsibilities, Ben decided to take the plunge. “Not only was marketing the field I was after, but FIU’s program had the best available times for me.”Once classes began, and after each work day, Ben would delve into his studies. “I would do all of my homework late at night when my daughter was asleep and put in eight-hour days on the weekend.” Harmony’s future was always at the forefront of his mind. Often, with no one else around to help, Ben would bring Harmony to class with him. “Nobody minded having Harmony around,” he says, “In fact, she became a staple in class.

Though professors accommodated a single father’s grit, Ben is especially thankful for the marketing program’s online components. “Online classes allowed me to study on my own time. That way Harmony never strayed from the center of my world.”

The online components built into the curriculum of Ben’s marketing program offered more than flexibility. “The marketing field today is predominantly digital, so it makes sense to have such a robust online component to the program. It was a natural fit.”

On top of gaining practical marketing experience through online platforms, Ben earned eight of the industry-standard certifications for marketing, all of which were achieved online. “It was just so easy to jump from courses to certification in no time.” On the night of his graduation, Ben brimmed with pride as friends and family joined him for a celebratory dinner. They were not only celebrating Benjamin’s graduation with a master’s from FIU. They were celebrating fatherhood, too. Benjamin’s own father surprised him by travelling in from Congo, Africa to congratulate him. 

Today, Benjamin and Harmony live in Atlanta where his career as a cross-industry marketer and brand representative is taking off. He even represents Harmony by curating her popular Instagram account, which he started as a project for class at FIU.  When asked how FIU helped him achieve so much in so little time, he says “I couldn’t have pulled it off at another school.” 

It’s true that FIU and FIU Online are committed to the success of our students, but success happens in harmony with a student’s own determination. And for Benjamin, it’s all about Harmony.