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A Profile in Motivation, Goal Setting and Success

– FIU Online. June 12, 2015

Stephanie Llamas was always focused on reaching the pinnacle of academic success: graduation. On a hopeful sun-filled commencement day in early May, her goal came true. That goal had been propelling her forward since she was young. While still in high school, Llamas recalls driving past Florida International University and picturing herself on campus as a student someday. “It was the only university I applied to,” says Stephanie Llamas, who now proudly holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts with a track in Organizational Communication studies. It is the first step, for Llamas, who plans to pursue a Master in Business Management in the near future. 

Prior to her graduation Llamas was filled with excitement. 

“I could not believe that I was finally graduating from FIU; the feeling of accomplishment at completing such an important milestone is indescribable.”

Once on campus as an undergraduate, Llamas ran into some challenges. Despite her best efforts, as a working professional, wife and mom to now 3-year old son Javier (affectionately known as JJ), she found herself falling behind in her coursework. “It became increasingly more difficult to make it to classes on time,” says Llamas. When a counselor advised about FIU Online, she initially took two online classes while also maintaining one class on campus. Llamas began taking courses online in summer of 2013 and became a fully online student by fall of that year. The process, says Llamas, was easy and hassle-free.

“I loved the flexibility that being an online student gave me,” she says, adding, “I was able to study when I wanted without taking time away from my son and my husband.”

Being a fully online student let Llamas balance her work, family life and school.
“It allowed me to become more organized, manage my time more efficiently and it also taught me how to stay focused in different environments,” says Llamas, who currently works at IPC, a company that is owned by Subway franchisees. “My goal is to continue to grow with the company as a services manager assisting franchisees in North America and internationally.

Intentionally designed to be user-friendly for students in the online environment, the syllabus was broken down for every course, which enabled Llamas to plan ahead for weeks when her workload was going to be heavier or for social events and family vacations without having to fall behind on her assignments. “This was one of the highlights of taking online courses,” she says.

 When it was time to declare a major, Llamas met with her advisor because she could not decide what to invest her time, money and focus on. “I took the packet with information on the Communication Arts degree program and the following week I completed the form to declare my major,” she says confidently.

Commencement day was very emotional.

“My family was there and I could see my son waving at me and yelling ‘mommy’ from the audience.”

Her FIU Online student success coach, Kimberly Noy, who Llamas had never met in person was also there. In her role, Noy helps online students with goal setting, time management, personal and career development, stress management and more. Post-graduation, Noy acts as a liaison for alumni seeking customized career coaching. 

“Kimberly was great! She greeted me with a hug and told me she had been cheering for me!  It was a very special moment. I did it all for my son, who I hope one day can see my accomplishment and know that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.”

An FIU Online success coach phrase is, ‘The journey is the reward.’ That statement resonates for this proud graduate, “I truly feel that I made the right decision by becoming an FIU online student,” says Llamas.