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FIU’s graduates are in every industry

by Monica Smith

May 16, 2022, 2:00 PM.

A look at our alumni, their accomplishments and how their education impacted their professional rise.

Education is an investment in your future. For several of our graduates, it was a game changer that helped them move through their careers, learn new skills and reach new goals. One thing each of the following graduates have in common is they used online learning to complete their degrees. Some did not even live in Florida, others just used a few classes to accelerate the time to graduation, all gained the skills to navigate the job market as college graduates.

Whether it was interpersonal skills gained from their university degree, corporate social responsibility knowledge, opportunities that came through professors, a global mindset, or communication and analysis practice, each student obtained immediately applicable skills and a “way in” to deepen their qualifications and value. Their degree programs prepared them to find the best jobs for graduates in their respective fields. In this compilation, five students share how what they learned prepared them for where they are today and allowed them to fill the jobs skills list for employers.

1. Interpersonal skills

Rodney Castillo
Rodney Castillo

For Rodney Castillo ’15, ’19, who received his bachelor’s and master’s degree in English literature , from FIU, the path to his career seems a little unconventional given his area of study. However, Castillo makes logical connections and insists that his English degree was a versatile choice. He feels his education offers him the skills needed for both his IT network administrator position with Miami-Dade County Public Schools as well as his adjunct professor position teaching English composition and literature.

Castillo says he makes use of his degree every day—especially living in South Florida where there is a large amount of diversity. One of his classes, Exile Studies Literature, helped shape his identity as an immigrant, he says. 

“This class provided me with the vocabulary to articulate my own identity as an immigrant as well as the social dynamics of transplantation. It also made me a better human, able to empathize with the plight of others, regardless of their place of origin, language, race or religion,” he asserts.  “As a network administrator, having an English degree has empowered me with excellent interpersonal skills, allowing me to effectively communicate with my coworkers and those we provide service to.”

2. Refreshed for growth

Christine Cruz
Christine Cruz

Most South Floridians know her face as a TV anchor for the WSVN 7 news in Miami, FL. Christine Cruz ’20, spent decades honing her craft on the job, but decided to head back to school to pursue her master’s degree in Mass Communication: Global Strategic Communications

“After being a news anchor on WSVN 7 in Miami, FL, for decades, I decided to go back to school to learn the new technology in communications. Social media wasn’t around when I started, but its relevance today is undeniable. The program offered me a refresh,” she states, and she feels more confident having learned about advertising, marketing, and digital platforms, as well as crisis management—skills that are very valuable to today’s organizations. 

“The emphasis on corporate social responsibility was also very relevant in a world driven to sustain and retain our most valuable resources,” she notes.

A 2020 graduate, Cruz made a move to WXII 12, an NBC affiliate station in North Carolina.

“The course of study really pushed me to not only think outside the box, but to also step outside my comfort zone to grow personally and professionally,” she affirms.

3. Increased opportunities

Jared Longmire
Jared Longmire

When Jared Longmire ’21 set out to complete his master’s degree, he didn’t want to have to move. With the effects of the pandemic, Longmire decided that a 100 percent online program would work best, so he chose FIU’s 10-month M.S. Computer Engineering: Network Security .  

“The professors in the department stood out for me. When I reached out to them, they gave me a whole list of opportunities. I was able to work on a project to help the U.S. Department of Energy. The professors were able to give so much knowledge and were so accessible outside the classroom—they were there to help.”

Longmire is the senior technical program manager with Primary Diagnostics Incorporated, an organization that works on the logistics and supply chain management for COVID-19 testing and supplies. In a world where cyber attacks happen daily, his network security knowledge has been invaluable, he says.

4. Global mindset

Cesar Ochoa
Cesar Ochoa

There’s a different set of skills one needs when working for a multinational company. Cesar Ochoa ’20 can verify that. Ochoa, a sourcing specialist for Google, applies his B.S. in Public Relations, Advertising and Applied Communications degree in all that he does for the tech giant. 

“My education gave me a lot of knowledge and the foundation to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds,” he says. “I learned how to approach people with different points of view and from various cultures. The knowledge I gained in my program and through the Global Learning program online helped me develop a global mindset to be more prepared to approach and assess people for recruitment. FIU prepared me to work with a multinational company.”

5. Communication and analysis skills

Michelle Alonso
Michelle Alonso

Michelle Alonso ’13 ’15, is thankful for the professors she had both face to face and online. A three-time student with FIU, Alonso achieved her B.A. in English Language and Literature , 2013, returned to FIU for her master’s degree in English Language and Literature in 2015, and is now pursuing her doctoral degree with FIU in Language, Literacy, and Culture.

“I look back with incredible fondness at every class I took in the English department. I had the opportunity to study under caring, thoughtful, and genuinely brilliant scholars who pushed me,” she offers.

Alonso is a charter school instructor teaching advanced placement language and composition. She is also a Miami-Dade College instructor.

“My degree in English taught me to communicate effectively and analyze extensively. As a result of this program, I feel better equipped to make connections across history and culture. I genuinely feel I owe part of my 'people person' title to my degree,” she summarizes.

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