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Florida International University Magazine



Florida International University

on the cover

volume 16










in this issue

03 In Brief

26 Top 10 Reasons to Feel the Pride

Volleyball player Yarimar Rosa earns All-American honors.

28 Lost Alumni We’re trying to reconnect with some of

06 Changing Lives

the graduates of the College of Arts and

Alumnus and bariatric surgeon

Sciences. Check out our list of “Lost Alumni”

Jorge Sosa ’83 is helping people

and let us know if you recognize anyone.

lead healthier lives. He answers our questions about childhood obesity and losing weight.

16 A License to Heal The FIU College of Medicine achieved an important milestone in February, earning preliminary accreditation, the approval needed to welcome the first class of medical students in 2009. To celebrate, FIU erected new billboards at the corner of 107th Avenue and Tamiami Trail, where we photographed President Modesto A. Maidique and College of Medicine Dean Dr. John Rock. Inside, Dr. Rock and Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Pedro Greer share FIU’s innovative plan to send student teams from medicine, nursing and social work into our community’s underserved neighborhoods.

30 Class Notes 32 Donor Profile: C.A.M.P. 4 Justice The C.A.M.P. 4 Justice Foundation has

12 Ending An Epidemic

established a new endowment fund in the

Researchers at Florida International

College of Law to support the Program

University are leading HIV research

for Human Rights and Global Justice.

projects across South Florida.

22 New Stadium Builds Excitement

33 VIP

A new $50 million stadium signals a new

Jorge Gonzalez ’88

era for FIU football.

24 Alumni News Plans are being developed for a new FIU Alumni Center.

in the next issue

Future House USA FIU will showcase American ingenuity at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, exhibiting a home with the latest energy-efficient technology. Future House USA, initiated by FIU engineering professor Yong Tao, represents the United States in China’s demonstration project, “Future House,” which displays the most advanced sustainable energy building practices around the globe.




The Havana of Tomorrow

The Sweetest Things

Journey to Omaha

Two Cuban-born architecture professors create a vision for the future development of Havana and its surrounding region.

Misha Kuryla Gomez MBA ’04 turned her love of baking into a thriving cupcake business that allows her the freedom to be home with her daughter too.

FIU’s new baseball coach Turtle Thomas is known for his golden touch – he has brought 14 teams to the College World Series in Omaha. He’s now focused on reviving FIU’s winning legacy.











Florida International University

volume 16

letters to the editor A great honor When I was asked to appear on the inside back cover of the FIU magazine (Summer 2007), I knew it was a great honor. What I didn’t know was how many people would acknowledge seeing me there. In the weeks that followed its distribution, I heard from past clients, current clients, friends, neighbors and even a stranger in the grocery store that they had seen it. I am not a stranger to publicity. My photo and comments appear in publications like The Miami Herald, The South Florida Business Journal and Miami Today. I might get a dozen people who acknowledge those appearances. Without exaggeration, well over 100 people mentioned seeing the article and still do so. Congratulations on a great publication. Know that when it is received, people are reading it. Gayle A. Bainbridge ’75 Past President, FIU Alumni Association Miami, Fla ................................................................................................................... Cover to cover I’m 80 now. Gosh! I’m still producing books. This year it will be Nino Pernetti’s Café Abbracci Cookbook and what I consider the best of my 15 published books, Tales from the Fifth Street Gym. I mention this so you can appreciate that this letter of praise is from a man who has been in the national spotlight most of his life. I read your magazine cover to cover. I am impressed by its professional excellence. I am a product of five universities: University of Tampa, University of Tennessee, University of Florida, Spring Hill College and the University of Miami for my medical degree. They all publish alumni magazines. None approaches your freshness, professional layout and just plain interest. I particularly liked in the Summer 2007 issue the John Rock feature (What a guy) and “Exploring Light and Dark with Teresita Fernández” (Great layout). So thanks for sending me your work.

FIU Magazine Editorial Advisory Board Cathy Akens

Assistant VP Student Affairs Biscayne Bay Campus

Dr. Gisela Casines

Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Carol Damian

Professor of Art History, School of Art and Art History

Dr. Stephen Fain

Professor Emeritus, College of Education

Dr. Sally Gallion

FIU MAGAZINE Division of University and Community Relations

Florida International University 2007-08 Alumni Association Board

Sandra B. Gonzalez-Levy

Executive Committee

Vice President University and Community Relations

Terry Witherell

Associate Vice President External Relations

Bill Draughon

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs University Ombudsman

Rafael Paz

Jose M. Perez de Corcho ’93 Vice President

Raymond del Rey ’97 Secretary

George B. Brackett Jr. ’76 & ’77

Karen Cochrane

Samuel C. Jackson ’97

Associate Director Editorial Services

Aileen Solá Art Director Writers

Christina Bohnstengel

Associate General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel

Aimee Dingwell

William Trueba, Esq.

Evan Koch

President, FIU Alumni Association


Associate Vice President Alumni Relations

Assistant Dean of Marketing, Communication, and Publications Deborah O’Neil College of Business Editor, FIU Magazine Administration

Dr. Larry Lunsford

William R. Trueba, Jr., Esq. ’90

Martin Haro ’05


Gloria O’Connell Ivan Santiago Michael Upright



Ty N. Javellana, CPA ’88, MST ’98 Past President Officers

Gabriel Albelo ’93 Stewart L. Appelrouth MS ’80 José Manuel Díaz ’86 Cynthia J. Dienstag, Esq. ’83 Ramón Ferrán ’79 Joaquín “Jack” F. González ’98 Dr. Jason Scott Hamilton ’89, MS ’93 Carlos H. Hernández ’97 Michael R. Méndez ’03 Raúl Pérez Ballaga, Esq.’97 Justo Luis Pozo ’80 Dr. Susan Webster ’87

Ferdie Pacheco, M.D. Miami, FL

Letters to the Editor: FIU Magazine welcomes letters to the editor regarding magazine content. Send your letters via email to, by fax to 305-348-3247 or mail to FIU Magazine, Division of External Relations, UP PC 515, Miami, FL, 33199. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. All letters should include the writer’s full name and daytime phone number. Alumni, please include your degree and year of graduation. Change of Address: Please send updated address information to FIU Office of Alumni Relations, MARC 510, Miami, FL, 33199 or by email to FIU Magazine online: Visit

Alumni Office: FIU Office of Alumni Relations, UP MARC 510, Miami, FL 33199. Or call 305-348-3334 or toll free at 800-FIU-ALUM. Visit the Alumni Relations website at: for the latest news and alumni events. To receive the monthly electronic alumni newsletter, NOW@FIU, sign up at Gifts to FIU: Contact University Advancement at 305-348-6298 or visit: giving.htm Copyright 2008, Florida International University. FIU Magazine is published by the Florida International University Division of University and Community Relations and distributed free of charge to alumni, faculty and friends of the university. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. 9336_03/08

SPRING 2008 Florida International University Magazine


in brief

The Student Affairs team for the Relay for Life included Gisela Vega of Housing, Patty Lopez-Guerrero of the Center for Leadership & Service, and Korrin Stanek of Residential Life.

student-faculty ratios. Costs and financial aid account for about one-third of the total. n

Monumental sculpture garden installed at Biscayne Bay Environmental artist Ross Power has installed four stainless-steel sculptures at the Biscayne Bay Campus as a new sculpture garden. The pieces of art that make up the installation are: • “Future Wave,” seven 6-foot-tall steel forms that were submerged in 40 feet of ocean water in 1985 off the Key Largo coast and left for one year.

FIU walks to raise dollars for American Cancer Society Students, faculty and staff raised $68,000 for the American Cancer Society at this year’s FIU Relay for Life. The overnight fundraiser Feb. 15-16 was held outside the Ryder Business Building. Some 3,500 individuals organized in 74 teams walked through the night to celebrate cancer survivorship, remember those lost to cancer and raise awareness. The event is held during the night to symbolize that cancer never sleeps. Beverly Dalrymple, FIU Relay for Life advisor and director of the Center for Leadership & Service, has called the event “an amazing collaboration between students, staff and faculty and the community.” The FIU Pre-Dental Society team was named the winner of the Spirit Award, having earned the highest number of spirit points since the initiative kicked off last fall. The top earning team was Team Golden Key, which raised $6,815.90. The top earning individual was Jeffrey Knapp, of Team Undergraduate Education, who raised $5,247. “I’m a cancer survivor and a cancer patient, so to have the opportunity to turn my experience into something positive was wonderful, especially because of the number

of people who showed their support,” said Knapp, the director of the Academy for the Art of Teaching. “I hope to have the honor of participating again next year.” The Relay for Life Committee, which comprises 15-20 students, organizes the annual fund-raiser. The committee raised a total of $66,000 in 2007. n

FIU ranks among best values in higher education For the third consecutive year and fourth year since 1998, FIU ranks among the best values in U.S. public higher education, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine’s 2008 survey, “100 Best Values in Public Colleges.” FIU was named among the top 100 nationally for in-state as well as out-of-state and international students. Kiplinger’s survey is based on data provided by 500 four-year public colleges and universities to Peterson’s, a Nelnet company. Kiplinger’s editors supplemented the data with their own reporting, narrowing the list to 120 schools. Academic quality accounts for approximately two-thirds of the total: SAT scores, admission rates, retention rates,

• “Reflective Man,” nine stainless-steel forms ranging in height from six to 10 feet, arranged along a pathway. • “No Turning Back,” a 10-foot-tall undulating sculpture that is 30 feet in diameter. • “Focus,” an 8-foot-tall sculpture and “Sculptural Marine Habitat” that is 14 feet in diameter. “Future Wave” and “Reflective Man” were installed near the marine biology building. “Focus” was installed near the hospitality management building. “No Turning Back” was put near the kayak launch on the bay. The sculptures are on loan for at least five years. n


Florida International University Magazine


in brief FIU to boost emergency plan with Internet phones

FIU honored a group of outstanding students at the Reagan House. From left they are: Sara Giovannoni, Bruno Barbosa, Katherine Miles, Virginia Verona, Dana Hughes, Mina Spasojevic, Ehren Sixon, Marlon Bright, President Modesto A. Maidique and Nancy Maidique, Edgard Corrêa, Alejandra Alberti, Ines Medved, Jacqueline Young, Jasmine Young, Justine Young, Cindie Riera and Kathryn Bondi.

Outstanding students paired with Council of 100 mentors FIU honored the 16 valedictorians who are part of the current freshman class, as well as other student standouts, at a reception at the Ronald W. Reagan Presidential House in January. The event, which included the students’ parents, professors and coaches, was part of the support system the university has established for its top students. The honorees met members of the FIU Council of 100 – community leaders who serve as FIU’s ambassadors – who have

volunteered to serve as their mentors. This group of students inspired an advertising campaign dubbed “Best in Class,” which started appearing in The Miami Herald last fall. The campaign has featured students such as Cindie Riera, an aspiring physician; Latin Grammy nominee Alejandra Alberti; Sara Giovannoni, a member of the Italian national swim team; Megan Bottegal, an FBI intern working on one of the country’s first doctoral degrees in forensic chemistry; and Jacqueline, Justine and Jasmine Young, three sisters who were valedictorian and co-salutatorians of their high school. n

By the summer of 2008, classrooms at University Park, Biscayne Bay Campus and the Engineering Center will be equipped with Internet phones that will serve as two-way communication devices during emergencies. The phones will allow students and faculty to call for help and make it possible for university officials to broadcast campus-wide messages. The $250,000 strategic initiative calls for the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phones to be installed in 208 of the busiest classrooms at the university. Additionally, three outdoor speakers that can be used for emergency broadcasts already have been installed outside the Graham University Center at University Park. Others will be installed as funding becomes available. FIU is one of the few universities in the country with a VOIP network in place. The advantage of such a network is its capability to broadcast a message on multiple phones simultaneously. FIU uses the InformaCast system, which enables the university to send audio streams or text messages to Internet phones, speakers and other paging systems. n

Hard Hitter Volleyball player Yarimar Rosa’s killer instinct on the court has earned her All-American honors for the second year in a row By Martin Haro ’05

Sophomore Yarimar Rosa gave her

of the program to receive AllAmerican honors. “I’m really proud of having earned

Golden Panther

this,” the 19-year-old Puerto Rico

family good reason

native said. “It was a bit harder this

to roar when she

year because of injuries, but I wanted

recently was

to get the FIU name out there. I’m

named an American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA)

happy with what I’ve accomplished.” Rosa finished the 2007 season

Honorable Mention All-American for

ranked eighth in the nation in kills

the second year in a row.

per game with 5.38 and was the only

The outside hitter is the only FIU volleyball player in the history

underclassman in the country ranked in the Top 20.

SPRING 2008 Florida International University Magazine


in brief Law and business colleges ranked in Princeton Review The College of Law and College of Business Administration were included among the best in the latest Princeton Review rankings. For the first time, the College of Business Administration received a mention in “The Best 290 Business Schools for 2008.” For the second year in a row, the College of Law appeared in the Review’s “Best 170 Law Schools.” The College of Business ranked No. 4 in Princeton Review’s Top 10 ranking of Greatest Opportunity for Minority Students. The five-year-old College of Law ranked No. 2 in the country for the diversity of its faculty, and No. 4 for its environment for minorities. n

López Dirube collection finds a home at FIU The Cuban Research Institute and The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum accepted a collection of works from the estate of the late Rolando López Dirube, one of the most significant Cuban artists of the 20th century. A major contribution to the Frost Art Museum, it is the only collection that spans

A three-time Sun Belt Player of

the career of López Dirube from the 1950s to the 1990s and includes the range of media in which the artist worked. The collection has more than 60 items, including sculptures, drawings and mixed-media pieces. “Given the fact that most of my father’s work is in private hands, this donation will ensure that the public has access to a complete representation of his career,” said his daughter Dorita López. A Cuban native and Cintas Fellow in art from 1964 to 1966, López Dirube’s works are included in several major collections around the world. n

College of Business celebrates opening of new complex

contemporary style, innovative structure, student-friendly spaces, high-tech features and cosmopolitan ambiance reflect the sense of community, momentum and entrepreneurial leadership that permeates the college today.” Hundreds of alumni and business leaders from the community, many of whom donated in support of the building, attended the ribbon cutting. Office Depot Chairman and CEO Steve Odland delivered the keynote address. FIU President Modesto A. Maidique said, “It is also a symbol of the perseverance and dedication of our faculty, staff and community supporters who believed our world-class business school deserved a worldclass building.” n

The College of Business Administration (CBA), a national leader in business education, celebrated the opening of its new building complex in February. The 81,000square-foot complex has three distinct buildings that spiral upward from two to three stories. A soaring 65-foot lobby greets visitors at the main entrance. “I believe our new facility captures the spirit of the business school,” said CBA Executive Dean Joyce Elam. “Its dramatic design,

of the Tiger Invitational.

out of high school and she

When he heard of Rosa’s

the Week, she posted double-

“I just like to have fun when I’m

probably received a scholarship

achievement, Munga Eketebi,

digit kills in every match while

on the court with my teammates,”

offer from every major volleyball

head men’s soccer coach,

collecting 11 double-doubles.

she said.

program in the country,” said

extended his congratulations to

head coach Danijela Tomic. “You

Rosa through coach Tomic, noting

She pounded at least 20 kills

In addition to her kills, Rosa

in 16 of her 27 matches, five of

also improved her all-around

can imagine how thrilled we were

that if the student-athlete “keeps

which were three-game matches.

game this season to lead the

when she committed to FIU.”

it up, she has the opportunity to

She is just the fourth player

team in both digs (248) and

Rosa says she chose to come

beat or tie my record – or better,

in school history to reach 1,000

service aces (40), which helped

to FIU because she liked the

do it four times.” (Eketebi earned

kills for her career, doing so

lead FIU to its current national


his first-of-three consecutive All-

in less than two seasons. Her

ranking of 20th in aces.

top performance of the season

In all, her performance in 2007

“Miami is really close to Puerto Rico and is very similar

American designations in soccer as a sophomore in 1984.)

came against highly regarded

helped vault the Golden Panthers

to home. That’s what I liked best

On a related note, FIU will

Missouri, an NCAA Tournament

to a No. 54 ranking out of 320

about it,” she said. “Plus, I really

host eight teams for this year’s

participant. Rosa had a season-

schools, up six spots from the

liked the other players and the

Sun Belt Conference on Nov.

high 31 kills in FIU’s 3-2 win

team’s ranking last year.

coaches. I’m very happy to have

20-22 at the Pharmed Arena at

come here.”

University Park. n

enroute to being named the MVP

“Yarimar was highly recruited

SPRING 2008 Florida International University Magazine


alumni profile Changing Lives Weight loss surgeon gives individuals the opportunity to lead healthy lives By Aimee Dingwell

Dr. Jorge Sosa’s route to success as one of South Florida’s foremost weight-loss surgeons is much like his mantra for life. “I have always been attracted to very complicated things,” says Sosa, director of bariatric surgery at Palmetto General Hospital. “But things that have positive outcomes.” His path so far has been just that. Born in Cuba, his parents wished to raise their children elsewhere. After living in Spain and Australia, Sosa’s family finally gained entry into the United States when he was about 13, settling in Miami. Sosa excelled in high school biology and thoughts of a medical career surfaced. The precocious teen enrolled in the same lab technician program as his father at Miami-Dade College (MDC) while still in high school. After graduating from high school, Sosa continued his studies at MDC, becoming a surgical technician. It was there that his path became clear. “I remember telling my father I wanted to go into surgery. And he said, ‘Oh, you want to be a doctor?’ And I said, ‘No, I want to be a surgeon.’ “Once I finished at Miami-Dade College, the decision of where to complete my undergraduate degree was obvious – it was FIU,” he says. “It was a wonderful thing. The university was built for people like me. It was just awesome. FIU allows people like me, of limited means, to get a very good college education.” In 1983, Sosa graduated with honors from FIU with a degree in biology.

“You see your patients after the surgery, and they are so happy and doing so well.” — Dr. Jorge Sosa

Next up was the University of South Florida medical school where he finished first in his class. “I tell people, ‘You can go to school wherever you want, but you can get a really good education close to home.’ FIU gave me the education to compete with students from all of the best Ivy League schools.” After completing his residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital in 1992, Sosa became assistant director of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit for two years, remaining a trauma surgeon in the emergency room. It was there that he began performing laparoscopic surgery, a minimally-invasive abdominal surgical technique that uses a camera and very small incisions. He treated gunshot wounds, abdominal obstructions and cancer with the emerging technique. Eventually Sosa left the trauma theater to specialize in laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery, or bariatric surgery as it is commonly known, to treat morbid obesity, which is generally defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or more, or weighing at least 100 pounds more than the recommended weight for your height and frame. In this surgery, Sosa creates a smaller stomach from a patient’s existing stomach tissue. The surgery also involves creating new connections from the new stomach to the small bowel. Because the new stomach is smaller, patients feel full more quickly and eat less. Obesity rates in the United States have more than doubled during the Continues on next page


Florida International University Magazine



past 25 years, along with a host of medical problems that results from excess weight. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control found that 34 percent of adults, some 72 million Americans, over age 20 are obese with a BMI of 30 or greater. And according to Sosa, the United State has the highest per capita intake of refined sugar in the world. Being overweight increases the risk of hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, respiratory problems and stroke, among other illnesses. Indeed, most of Sosa’s patients have tried multiple diets and exercise regimens but cannot lose the weight, and worse, are losing their health. He is stringent about who he will perform the surgery on – most must have a BMI of 35 or greater and agree to a post-surgery exercise program. “This is a lethal disease and few of us get that,” says Sosa. “We are eating ourselves to death and this is, in some ways, evolutionary surgery.” “While the surgery is complex, it is fulfilling,” Sosa said. “You see your patients after the surgery, and they are so happy and doing so well. It is very rewarding.” Sosa says there is about a 95 percent success rate, which is reflected in dozens of before-andafter photographs in his waiting room. It didn’t take long for a trim, petite woman to point out her mother’s before and after pictures with pride, noting that she too was one of Sosa’s successes.

“FIU allows people like me, of limited means, to get a very good college education.” — Dr. Jorge Sosa

More than 1,600 laparoscopic bariatric surgeries later and a position as head of a National Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence, Sosa is changing the lives of those with severe weight problems, including teenagers and the elderly. “Bariatric surgery for youngsters was once quite controversial, but it has proven very successful,” Sosa says. “You see these kids, they are home-schooled, home-bound, and the surgery completely changes their lives.” For Sosa, his patients’ successes are personal. “I have struggled with a weight problem most of my life, so I know what my patients are going through.” In fact, about 10 years ago Sosa’s BMI neared 35, and he decided action was necessary. “I made a point to correct eating habits and increase exercise and activity. I was able to reduce my BMI to under 30.” Standing in Sosa’s Hialeah waiting room is convincing. A testimonial patient poster on the wall reads, “There are times in life when you are reborn.” With details of a firefighter’s success, who once weighed 307 pounds and is now 187, it’s easy to understand how, through his commitment to medicine and his practice, Sosa gives new life to his patients. n Aimee Dingwell is a freelance writer residing in Miami.

SPRING 2008 Florida International University Magazine


Ten Questions About Fat and Fitness Dr. Jorge Sosa ’83, a leading bariatric surgeon, discusses just why it is so tough to lose weight and some strategies for success.

1. Why is it so hard for people to lose weight?

4. How likely is an overweight child to become an overweight adult?

I think it’s a question of metabolic evolution. As a species, our metabolism evolved to store calories in the form of fat so that excess calories available during times of plenty could be stored for leaner times such as winter or drought. Thus we would have a cycle of having excess fat followed by burning fat and becoming lean. Unfortunately, we are now metabolically maladapted to our social evolution with excellent agriculture and food processing. This, combined with our modern sedentary lifestyle, results in excess fat storage.

This maladaptive metabolism and behavior are very hard to combat. Obese children tend to become obese adults. Often weight gain is progressive until it reaches morbid levels. It can be reversed but takes great effort. The earlier you start the easier it will be.

2. Is losing weight about simple math – eat fewer calories and exercise more? Or are more complex factors at play? Although it is a simple equation of calories consumed versus calories burned, losing weight and keeping it off is much more complex. Our metabolism is fighting us every inch of the way. We’ve evolved to store excess calories. When we try to lose weight, there are hormonal changes that increase our hunger. It appears that after gaining a significant amount of weight, this feedback mechanism becomes more deranged and we can literally end up eating ourselves to death.

3. Why are so many children becoming overweight and obese? Today it is much easier to obtain what I call “free calories.” As hunters and gatherers, we spent significant energy finding our next meal. Now, finding the next meal spends almost no calories. It’s as easy as going to the refrigerator or the fast food stand. Our environment and our metabolism provide a double-whammy causing the obesity epidemic in younger and younger folks.

5. What’s the best thing a person can do to lose weight and improve their health? The National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization rate obesity and weight based on the Body Mass Index (BMI). Know your BMI. It allows you to judge the effects of weight on your health and serves as a very useful basis for developing a weight management strategy.

6. Is it possible to be 10, 20 or even 30 pounds overweight and still be healthy? If your BMI is between 18-25, you aren’t going to have weight-related health issues. A BMI of 25-30 is classified as overweight for average height and would be 20-30 pounds overweight. If your BMI is in this range, skip a few meals, cut back on some desserts and get active. But it is possible to be healthy in this BMI range. If your BMI is 30-35, take action. Go to a physician, get a trainer and get under 30 to prevent bariatric surgery or death. If your BMI is over 35, your weight will kill you. Make a super-intensive attempt to lose weight, and if you cannot, consider bariatric surgery.

7. What have you learned from your patients about the social and emotional impact of being obese? There’s no doubt that there are many social and emotional costs associated with being severely obese. There is clear research showing work-place and social discrimination against obesity. Although many severely obese persons seek out psychological help, many suffer quietly with feelings of failure. I make a point to tell my patients their obesity is not a character

flaw or a failure of willpower. It is a metabolic consequence of a complex interaction of environment and genetics, much like many types of cancer.

8. How obligated do you feel to be a personal role model to your patients? On a personal basis, I have struggled with a weight problem most of my life, so I know what my patients are going through. Some 10 years ago my BMI reached close to 35 and I knew action was necessary. I made a point to correct eating habits and increase exercise and activity. I was able to reduce my BMI to under 30. Although nowhere close to my ideal BMI, I make a concerted effort to stay in the overweight range and not the obese range, thus reducing the health effects of weight. This is the goal I try to instill in my patients. I am proud to say that many are much more successful than me at it.

9. How do you maintain health and weight? As I drift to a BMI over 30, I get more intensive with my weight management plan. A key part of all weight management plans is regular exercise. I recommend one hour three times per week of combined aerobic and resistance training. For example, 30 minutes of bike or treadmill followed by 30 minutes of weight lifting. This is an effective combination, which maintains cardiovascular shape and increases muscle mass to better burn excess calories.

10. Do you have forbidden foods for you or your patients? Is there any one food overweight people should add – or remove – from their diet? I don’t think any food should be forbidden, but clearly sugar intake should be limited. Sugarbased meals such as desserts or regular soda have the biggest calorie for volume content of most foods. Sage advice is to save the dessert for special occasions. n


Florida International University Magazine


The Havana of Tomorrow

Architecture professors create a plan to guide the future development of Havana By Deborah O’Neil

In the Cuba of tomorrow, Havana’s historic buildings will be restored and the region’s ancient caves will be protected. Old Havana and the bay would become a tourism hub. A network of greenways and blueways across the region would re-establish the traditional relationship between a Cuban city and its natural, rural and urban landscapes. This is the vision of “Havana and Its Landscapes,” the innovation of architecture professor Nicolás Quintana and College of Architecture + The Arts Dean Juan Antonio Bueno. As much a dream as it is a set of recommendations, Havana and Its Landscapes is a vision for the future development of Havana and the surrounding region. It has two major components: an urban development plan for Havana created by Quintana, a Cuban-born architect who left the country in 1960, and a regional, landscape ecological plan designed by

Bueno, a Harvard-trained landscape architect and engineer. “Instead of having had an outward explosive growth – like Miami and many sprawling modern cities – Havana has imploded, remained frozen in time and still can be saved,” Quintana said. “We are “We are offering a vision for what offering should be preserved, what should a vision be restored and what should be for what developed,” Bueno said. “It should should be be viewed as a flexible conceptual preserved, framework to address the natural what should resources, environmental concerns and be restored human aspirations in the region.” For the past 50 years, Havana’s and what urban, rural and natural landscapes should be have been neglected and devastated. developed.” Wetlands have been drained. Forests — have been cleared. Historic structures Juan Antonio have fallen into disrepair. Roads Bueno dean of the and other public infrastructure have College of deteriorated. A long-anticipated Architecture transition to democratic rule and + The Arts a free-market system is expected to

bring a surge in private development. Absent a set of growth principles, many experts fear that Havana will turn into another urban sprawling city, and what remains of its natural resources will be destroyed. Quintana envisions a well-ordered modern city with neighborhoods united by efficient public transit, with well-defined residential areas, parks and commercial facilities at pedestrian distances, surrounded by avenues and growing along urban corridors. Old Havana and the bay would constitute the geographical center of the city and its main tourist area. The east of Havana would be developed to balance growth. The key recommendations for Havana include: • The clean-up and development of Havana Bay as a tourist and cruiseship hub • Implementing new codes to regulate building height and density

SPRING 2008 Florida International University Magazine


Elevations and models representing different elements of “Havana and Its Landscapes,” courtesy of Nicolás Quintana.

• Use of the traditional grid system for the city’s layout • The creation of pedestrian friendly, multi-use urban centers designed with commercial, office and residential buildings surrounding landscaped public courtyards. • Upgrading public transportation and other infrastructure To create the landscape ecological plan, Bueno used current satellite imagery of the island. The region he focused on stretches from Pinar del Rio to the west and Matanzas to the east. He addresses such issues as what to do with abandoned agricultural land, how to stop runoff into rivers and how to protect Cuba’s rich variety of flora and fauna through the creation of a network of preserves, parks and greenways. “For the size of Cuba, it has amazing biodiversity,” said Bueno. “If you want to keep that biodiversity, you have to develop in a certain way.” Bueno’s key recommendations include: • Protection and restoration of the aquifers

• Reclamation of natural landscapes • Design and construction for the tropical climate • Preservation of landforms • Conservation of soils • Protection of biodiversity There have been many “master plans” for Havana, Bueno said. “But nobody has looked at the problem holistically considering the urban, agricultural and natural landscapes. The Cuban city of the future must re-establish this cohesion.” The project, three years in the making, involved four generations of Cubans, from Quintana, who is in his 80s, to college students in their 20s. It was supported with a $325,000 joint grant from South Florida developer Sergio Pino of Century Homebuilders, LLC, and Anthony Seijas of Lennar Homes Inc. Pino, a Cuban immigrant and a former FIU trustee, was inspired to make the gift after taking a course with Quintana on urban design and architectural history of the Americas.

“Havana has imploded, remained frozen in time and still can be saved.” — Nicolás Quintana, professor of architecture

The late architect Felipe Préstamo also contributed to “Havana and Its Landscapes,” doing research on economic, social and political issues. Dozens of FIU architecture students have played a role in the plan, completing research and developing site plans, 3-D animations and models in the college’s Design Studio courses. Alumnus Gabriel Fuentes ’02, M.Arch ’05 won two awards for his design of a cultural center in Old Havana. The plan, crafted without contact or cooperation from the Cuban government, will be unveiled in a series of books, presentations and museum exhibitions. Havana and Its Landscapes is realistic, say Quintana and Bueno, if it is embraced by the Cuban people. The books will be circulated on the island, and the professors hope they will excite a discussion of possibilities for the future. “They have to decide this is what they want,” Bueno said. “It’s an incredible opportunity.” n

Florida International University Magazine


c mi ide Ep

End ing an


By Deborah O’Neil and Aimee Dingwell


ight years ago, renowned AIDS expert William Darrow launched an ambitious effort to reverse the high rates of HIV infection in Broward’s minority communities. With a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the FIU professor assembled a team of community outreach workers and sent them out into the streets. They talked to people about HIV prevention, offered candid advice about sexual-risk reduction and HIV-antibody testing, and handed out condoms. They held community forums, visited churches, trained volunteers, and sponsored public service campaigns featuring spoken-word poets. They knocked on doors in some of Broward’s poorest neighborhoods, bringing HIV/AIDS information directly to the places where the disease is often transmitted. Darrow’s grassroots approach to HIV/AIDS prevention was unorthodox, even questionable to some who feared such a personal and

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HIV and AIDS: FIU researchers focus on preventing the spread of the disease in South Florida culturally tailored campaign was not high impact enough to make a difference. This year, as the project, known as REACH 2010, comes to a close, one statistic tells the story of this project’s success. Since 1999, HIV infection among black minorities in Broward County has been cut by more than 50 percent, and it is continuing to decline. FIU’s REACH 2010 project has helped change the course of a deadly epidemic in a community where individuals were most at risk. Darrow’s project represents one of the most impressive outcomes of FIU’s HIV and AIDS research agenda. Since 1999, FIU professors have brought in more than $43 million of grants to support HIV/AIDS research in the areas of prevention, education, nutrition, risk behavior and neuro-biology. The projects focus on the problem of HIV and AIDS in South Florida, specifically targeting Hispanic, Afro-Caribbean and African-American minorities, migrant farm workers and recent immigrants. Florida has the second highest rates of HIV and AIDS in the country after New York. And one third of it is in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. The greater Miami area ranks No. 2 in the country after New York City in the numbers of AIDS cases reported nationally. Too often, says FIU’s Vice President of Research George Walker, people assume HIV or AIDS research isn’t relevant because they don’t know anyone with the disease. However, Florida’s 2006 HIV/AIDS profile compiled by the Department of Health reveals some surprising realities about who carries the disease and who is most vulnerable:


Professor William Darrow has led the FIU REACH 2010 program. Photo by Michael Upright

• The percentage of heterosexual HIV-positive cases (25 percent) is also higher than the national average (20 percent.) • Florida has a significantly higher percentage of AIDS cases among women (32 percent) than the national average (19 percent.) • The state also has two times the proportion of cases with no identified risk (22 percent) than the national average (11 percent). Says Walker, “You live among individuals who have it and who are at risk of contracting it. They are your neighbors. They are your co-workers. Beyond that, many of those people with HIV/AIDS are putting great demands on the health care system of your community. You must care.” Here’s a snapshot of some of the HIV/AIDS research projects now underway at FIU: HIV and minorities Team: William Darrow, professor of public health; Elizabeth SanchezBrana ’97 MPH ‘01, associate director of REACH 2010; Hugh Gladwin, director of the Institute for Public Opinion Research; Sunny Kim, assistant professor of public health Project: REACH 2010, or Racial

and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health Research Grant: $6.5 million for

eight years through 2008 by the CDC Focus: Twelve Hispanic, African-

American and Afro-Caribbean neighborhoods in Broward County with high rates of HIV and AIDS

Objective: Across the country, • The percentage of heterosexual minorities consistently have higher rates AIDS cases in Florida (32 percent) is of HIV and AIDS than non-minorities. more than twice the national average In 1999, the CDC set out to correct (13 percent). those disparities with the REACH

Since 1999, FIU professors have brought in more than $43 million of grants to support HIV/AIDS research.

2010 program. Darrow, a sociologist who spent 33 years researching the epidemic at the CDC, won a REACH grant to create an HIV-prevention initiative in Broward County, which had some of the highest rates nationally of HIV/AIDS among minorities. In partnership with three Broward community-based organizations, the REACH 2010 team created programs tailored to the cultural sensitivities and needs of each community. Five surveys were completed by FIU’s Institute for Public Opinion Research to assess whether the programs were increasing awareness about HIV prevention. Statistics from the Florida Department of Health demonstrate that during the eight-year period of REACH, HIV and AIDS among racial minorities declined significantly in Broward County. “The project appears to be highly successful,” Darrow said. “Disparities in HIV disease should be eliminated by 2010, and that was our goal.” The project’s other primary objective was to generate new knowledge about why disparities exist. Here, the REACH project excelled. Seemingly insignificant details, they found, could make the difference between success and failure. For instance, to be effective in Hispanic Continues on next page


Florida International University Magazine


HIV and Drug Abuse Team: Mario De La Rosa, director of the FIU Center for Research on U.S. Latinos HIV/AIDS and Drug Abuse (CRUSADA)

During the eight-year period of REACH, HIV and AIDS among Continued from previous page

communities, outreach workers had to be dressed professionally and wear a badge. In black communities, it was the opposite. “They couldn’t look like they were government employees,” said Sanchez-Brana. “They had to wear jeans and sneakers and look like they were part of the community.” There were also surprises regarding attitudes and stigmas about the disease. Hispanics were reluctant to talk to their children about HIV and AIDS because sex was largely a taboo topic. “We would tell them that educating them isn’t giving them permission,” said Sanchez-Brana. In the African-American community, the belief that AIDS was created by the U.S. government to exterminate blacks remains remarkably high. They also found that the great majority – 86 percent – of the individuals contacted by REACH describe themselves as spiritual. This may explain the ineffectiveness of past science-based campaigns. “Members of our minority communities aren’t responding to these facts,” said Darrow, “because they are filtered through a cultural prism that often provides a different connotation than the scientist expects.” Darrow and his team hope to present some of their findings at the next International AIDS Conference in Mexico City in August.

racial minorities declined significantly in Broward County.

approximately 14 percent of the U.S. population in 2004, they accounted for 20 percent of the 42,514 new AIDS cases diagnosed in that year – and research shows that drug abuse significantly affects HIV infection Project: HIV Risk Behavior and rates in Latinos. Substance Abuse among Recent Additionally, the diversity of the Latino Immigrants Latino communities in Miami is a unique challenge. De La Rosa Research Grant: Five year, $6.5 also noted that effective prevention million grant awarded in September and treatment requires extensive 2007 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Latino immigrant relationship building within the communities. “The community study is one of the larger studies of a of Homestead is different than number of research projects within Kendall, which is different than Little CRUSADA covered by the grant. It Havana, where HIV rates are high,” is being carried out by C-SALUD, says De La Rosa. Subtle subgroup a center within CRUSADA that has been designated a national Exploratory differences in Latino populations mean that researchers must tailor Center of Excellence by the NIH’s their prevention education messages National Center on Minority Health to reach target populations. and Health Disparity. This experience carries over into Focus: Latino men and women CRUSADA’s training core, which 18 and older who have lived in the also is being funded by the grant. United States for one year or less. The program offers direct guidance Objective: This study addresses to graduate and doctoral research a fundamental gap in the research students to become trained researchers regarding HIV risk behavior and and to continue receiving funding, substance use of recent Latino says De La Rosa. The program also immigrants. The objective is to mentors Ph.D. students and faculty determine how the HIV risk in the development of research grant behaviors of Latino immigrants are applications to NIH institutes. influenced by their pre-immigration lifestyle and culture in the early HIV and Alcohol Abuse period of their immigration. The Team: Robert Malow, director of project is the first to investigate the FIU AIDS Prevention Program; the HIV and substance use risk Madhavan Nair, chair of the trajectories of this group of recent Latino immigrants. The research will College of Medicine Department of identify important predictors of HIV Immunology; Jessy Devieux, research associate professor in the AIDS risk behavior for Latino immigrants Prevention Program and can provide the knowledge needed to develop new, culturally Research Grant: Awarded grounded HIV-prevention programs September 2007, 5-year, $3.5 or enhance existing programs. million from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on “There is an ongoing push by the Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism NIH to decrease health disparities among certain populations,” said De Project: Intervening with HIVLa Rosa, the principal investigator of Positive Alcohol Abusers: Influence of the study. Neuro-Behavioral Factors Indeed, Latino men and women are Focus: HIV-positive Hispanic and disproportionately affected by HIV/ AIDS compared to other populations African-American adults in Miami with a history of alcohol abuse – while Latinos constituted

Objective: Today, powerful

drug cocktails allow HIV-positive individuals to lead longer and healthier lives. But when those HIVpositive individuals are also alcoholics, serious brain damage from drinking can jeopardize the success of drug regimens and can open the door for behavior that transmits the disease. In this study, researchers are examining the neuro-biological factors that enhance the vulnerability of HIV-infected alcohol abusers to risky behavior. The study approaches the challenge of decreasing the transmission of HIV as a complex mosaic of issues, on the one hand effected by neurological problems and on the other, dependent on social factors. “HIV research has avoided looking at biological tendencies that predispose you to engage in risky behavior,” said Malow, who has led eight NIH-funded projects totaling more than $25 million. “It affects issues of memory, attention span and brain function. HIV prevention has been teaching people to practice safe sex, but if their brain is compromised by a history of drug abuse and HIV infection, they have difficulty processing and retaining HIVprevention information.” Alcohol remains the most widely abused substance in the United States. Research has demonstrated that there is an overlap between those most at risk for alcohol dependence and those most at risk for HIV infection; drinking and sexual risk taking often occur together. The study will involve 320 HIV-positive Hispanic and AfricanAmerican individuals with a history of alcohol abuse. The goal is to determine whether specific treatments can be administered to offset the brain damage. “This is a wonderful grant because the behavioral aspect of HIV prevention will be supplemented by molecular research,” said Nair, the recipient of four other major grants from the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

HIV and Migrant Workers Team: H. Virginia McCoy, chair, Department of Health Promotion & Disease Prevention, School of Public Health; Way Way Hlaing, associate professor of public health; Rob Malow, professor of public health; Jessy Devieux, associate professor of public health; Theophile Niyonsenga, associate professor of public health; Wukosava Pekovic, assistant professor of public health Project: HIV Risk Reduction in

Migrant Workers Research Grant: $3.1 million over 5

years awarded October 2005, National Institutes of Health—National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism Population Focus: Hispanic or

African-American agricultural workers Objective: Professor McCoy has

been working with migrant workers in rural Immokalee, FL for almost 20 years. Over that time, she has seen a steady increase in both the number of workers and the rates of HIV infection. From January 2005 to November 2006, Collier County had a 90 percent increase in the number of HIV infections. The county’s health department has found that Immokalee accounts for 42 percent of the county’s

“This is a wonderful grant

total HIV/AIDS cases. These statistics, McCoy notes, demonstrate the need for services beyond the scope of basic HIV prevention education.

The migrant worker study is addressing the increasing rates of HIV behavioral infection, as well as social factors that act as barriers to decreasing HIV risk aspect of behaviors and improving access to HIV health services. Specifically, the study is comparing the effectiveness of two prevention community-health based interventions on decreasing HIV risk behaviors in will be about 320 migrant workers. supplemented The study, which is in collaboration with Marian Fether Health Center, by molecular Collier County Health Department, research.” and other community agencies, is now conducting the first three-month follow— up. Additional follow-up is scheduled at Madhavan six and twelve months. Other areas the Nair, study is assessing include whether social chair of the influence, attitudes, knowledge and skills College of affect outcomes and behaviors, and the Medicine Department extent to which gender, acculturation and traumatic abuse moderate the of Immunology intervention and risk behaviors. In transient populations such as this, McCoy notes, follow-up is key. “We have been physically present in the community for about 15 years,” McCoy said. “Because of this we have made inroads with many of the workers on a personal level.” n because the


Florida International University Magazine


A new vision for medical education By John A. Rock, M.D., dean of the

and small group discussions on ethics, team work, public health Greer Jr. M.D., assistant dean of the and cultural competency. Through College of Medicine NeighborhoodHELP, beginning the We at the FIU College of second year, medical students will Medicine are excited to share work in teams with students from with our alumni and supporters other disciplines, such as nursing a new approach to medical and social work, to visit households education that we hope will have and families in South Florida’s an immediate and lasting impact underserved communities. The on this community’s health. We purpose of placing students in the call it NeighborhoodHELP (Health community is to improve the health Education Learning Program), of individuals residing in these a community-based learning households and expose students to experience that runs throughout the complexities of health care for the fours years of the medical underserved populations. school’s Medicine and Society The College of Medicine will curriculum. The preliminary work collaboratively with our accreditation recently granted community partners to identify to the college by the Liaison households and families from Committee of Medical Miami-Dade County’s underserved Education means we can now neighborhoods. Our first class of begin recruiting students to 40 students will follow families participate in this bold in North Dade in partnership vision for medical with North Dade Health Center, education, which a primary health care clinic to our knowledge sponsored by Jackson Health has never been System. The households may have done before. This health challenges ranging from program, indeed, chronic disease to acute illness, the entire College or face economic issues such as of Medicine, is as unemployment that could have an much about learning impact on health. The presence of as it is about giving back a student team will facilitate the to and working together development of interdisciplinary with the community. care plans for the households. Here’s how the program will Health issues will be addressed work. To establish the foundation and assessed in the context of each of NeighborhoodHELP, the patient’s life, including the social medicine and society courses will and economic factors that affect begin the first year with lectures health. College of Medicine and Pedro J.

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Students will work with the families and their doctors to implement and refine care plans through the third and fourth years. The student teams will be able to fulfill a variety of roles for the households and families, including health education and referrals for health and social services. For instance, if a patient has diabetes, our team would work with the patient’s doctor to provide health education to strengthen understanding of the disease, and, if needed, improve dietary habits. In this process, our students would incorporate the non-medical factors that may be influencing the patient’s ability to follow the recommended treatment plan for managing diabetes. Such pro-active health care is vitally needed in South Florida where more than one quarter of the people in Miami-Dade are uninsured. The state of Florida ranks dead last in the country in the number of uninsured adults and 49th in the number of uninsured children. Often, the uninsured postpone care until medical conditions become exacerbated, making treatment more difficult and costly. We aim to reverse the direction of care, emphasizing instead health education and preventive health measures for our underserved patients. Students will write a final paper reflecting their community experience, demonstrating their knowledge of an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to patients from cells to society, from Continues on next page


County donates $10 million toward new FIU health clinic FIU will use a $10 million grant from the Miami Dade County Commission to help open a primary care health center at University Park. The 18,000-square-foot ambulatory care center will consist of an outpatient surgery center and outpatient diagnostic center. It will be open to the entire community. “The ambulatory care center will be an important component of what will be the only public medical school in South Florida, a new type of medical school dedicated to training a new generation of doctors with a commitment to serving the community,” said College of Medicine Dean Dr. John Rock. The dollars for the new center come from the Building Better Communities General Obligation Bonds approved by voters to construct and improve health care facilities and promote accessibility to quality health services. The clinic will draw on the expertise of faculty and students in the College of Medicine, College of Nursing and Health Sciences and the Stempel School of Public Health.


Florida International University Magazine


Partnerships with area hospitals will strengthen FIU medical education New partnerships with Jackson Health System, Mount Sinai Medical Center and Miami Children’s Hospital will give FIU medical students an opportunity to train alongside top physicians in a variety of specialties.

for us as well as for the Jackson system,” said Dr. John Rock, dean of the college. Mount Sinai, one of only six designated teaching hospitals in Florida, has established graduate medical education in

“We are building a network of partners that will give our students

the fields of surgery, internal medicine, pathology, radiology,

wide exposure to a variety of patients,” said Dr. J. Patrick O’Leary,

cardiology, emergency medicine, breast imaging, sleep disorders,

executive associate dean for clinical affairs at the College of

anesthesiology, dermatology, infectious disease, gastroenterology,

Medicine. “Our goal is to educate well-rounded, culturally aware

physical and rehabilitation medicine, psychiatry, and thoracic/

doctors and at the same time interact with the local community in

cardiovascular surgery. The partnership brings FIU medical faculty

ways that have a significant impact.”

and students together with Mount Sinai physicians, residents and

The operating agreement with Jackson Health establishes a

fellows to provide health care and education.

teaching program for medical students at Jackson North Medical

The agreement at Miami Children’s Hospital links the FIU

Centers. FIU medical faculty will help care for uninsured as well as

College of Medicine to a world leader in pediatric health. The

insured patients and students will begin interacting with patients in a

hospital has more than 650 doctors in more than 40 specialties.

clinical setting during their third year of medical school.

Each year it provides training for 69 pediatric residents and 17

“The nature of our public mission makes this an ideal relationship

subspecialty fellows.


the molecular to the societal factors contributing to disease and its treatment. Through NeighborhoodHELP, FIU has the opportunity to reform medical education and to address community health needs. The impact of the program will be assessed in two ways: 1) individual household surveys, and 2) an epidemiological community level needs assessment. The data will also help the faculty of the College of Medicine evaluate student performance in improving health outcomes. We believe that students will have a positive influence on outcomes such as reduced emergency room visits, improved health literacy and increased preventive care. NeighborhoodHELP reflects our commitment as Miami’s public research university to be part of the solution to the health care crisis in South Florida and to give back to our community. We aim to demonstrate a return on investment of educational dollars by improving the health of communities and providing a signature program that aids in the development of socially responsible physicians of tomorrow. n

College earns a license to heal On Feb. 5, The FIU College of Medicine reached a major milestone, earning preliminary accreditation after an exhaustive review of its curriculum, budget and structure. Here’s a look at what preliminary accreditation means:

Who accredits medical schools? Dr. Pedro Greer Students will work with the families

The accreditation of all M.D.-granting programs in the United States is determined by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), which is jointly sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Council on Medical Education of the American Medical Association. The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Congress recognize the LCME as the accrediting authority for medical schools.

What is accreditation?


Accreditation is a comprehensive review and approval process that certifies a medical school has met national standards for structure, function and performance. It is required for schools to receive federal grants for medical education and to participate in federal loan programs.

and refine

Why is preliminary accreditation important?

and their doctors to

health care plans.

Preliminary accreditation signifies that the College of Medicine has met national standards and can now begin recruiting students for its first class. Students may begin applying in June of 2008.

When will the College of Medicine receive full accreditation? FIU expects the first class of students to graduate in 2013 from a fully accredited College of Medicine. Source: The Liaison Committee on Medical Education


Florida International University Magazine


alumni profile The Sweetest Things By balancing motherhood with work, Misha Kuryla Gomez MBA ’04 is having her cupcake and eating it, too By Martin Haro ’05

If her husband had not insisted she get a job less than six months after their daughter Ella was born in May 2005, Misha Kuryla Gomez’s life might not have turned out so sweet. Today, the 2004 graduate of the FIU master of business administration program owns her own business, Misha’s Cupcakes, which she whipped up after deciding she would work full time only if she also could be a mother full time. Born and raised in Miami, Gomez spent the better part of her twenties studying and working at home and abroad. She first attended the University of Pennsylvania where she studied nursing and sociology. After graduating in 1998, she worked for a non-profit, counseling rape victims and working with the family members of homicide victims. “It was very emotionally draining,” she said. Needing a change of pace, she left for Italy shortly before 2000. There, she spent a few years enjoying the Italian lifestyle and learning the language. “I spent six months in Venice and another 18 months in Florence. I worked for a fragrance company, doing marketing and research. I came back to the United States after Sept. 11 and got a job with UPS and later in pharmaceutical sales.” At 27, she married her husband

What Makes Misha’s cupcakes so yummy? 1. Callebaut chocolate 2. Whole milk 3. Real butter 4. Full cream

Gardo – and that is when her life began to get really sweet. By the time Ella was born, Gomez had completed the College of Business Administration’s MBA program and was settling happily into her role as a stay-athome mom. “After some time, though, my husband sat me down and told me, ‘Honey, you need to get a job.’” The timing and the loving push were exactly what she needed. “I’d always wanted to start a business, so I started one.” She launched Misha’s Cupcakes in October 2005, at first working at home. Last April, she moved into a warehouse in South Miami, 10 minutes away from home, where she runs her business and bakes about 1,500-2,000 cupcakes a day and about 2,500 on Fridays and Saturdays with her two helpers. She gets to drop off her daughter at school every morning and have lunch with her every afternoon. Her oh-so-cute and oh-so-rich creations have become a hit among local dessert lovers. They can be found at Books & Books (Coral Gables and South Beach), Focaccia in Coconut Grove and Morning Call Bakery in South Miami, among other locations.

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“In the beginning, I worked out of my house. Now I have my own space and a good system in place. I’ve gone from baking some cupcakes and taking them door to door to friends and family to selling to restaurants, cafés and bakeries. It’s great to have achieved this balance.” The move also allowed Gomez to Misha’s Cupcakes expand her business. Last summer she Pounds of butter used per week: 90 went retail and launched Lix by Misha Pounds of sugar with the help of a neighbor who owns used per week: 150 a marketing and branding company Quarts of cream used per week: 96 called the Image Factory. Lix is a kiosk located in Dadeland Mall where Cost of a mini-size cupcake: $1 she sells her mini- and regular-sized Cost of a regular cupcake: $2.25 cupcakes in all her flavors. Flavors: Chocolate, vanilla, She continues to support local marble, cookies n’ cream, coffee liqueur, charities such as Shake-a-Leg, breast coconut, peanut butter, red velvet, cancer research and many fundcinnamon sugar raising events for public and private Frosting: Chocolate or vanilla schools. She actually landed her first buttercream in any color wholesale customer, Morning Call,


when the owner tried her cupcakes at a breast cancer charity event. wanted Gomez’s recipe for success comes to start a from secret variations of her mother’s business, so chocolate cake recipe and from her own vanilla cake recipe. Her most I started popular cupcake? The vanilla one.” with white chocolate morsels and — vanilla frosting. Although she will not divulge the Misha Kuryla Gomez secret behind her creations, she will share some of her ingredients and methods. “The most important thing is to have good chocolate,” she said. “I use Callebaut chocolate; it’s semi-sweet and really delicious. And I use whole milk, real butter, full cream…If you’re going to have something ‘bad,’ then it better be something that’s really, really good. And I always bake a few minutes less than needed to preserve the cupcakes’ moisture. That’s very important.” n “I’d always


Florida International University Magazine


New stadium builds excitement for FIU Football end zone stands started going up in early February. FIU will open the 2008 season in Construction of the 6,500 squarea newly renovated and expanded $50 stadium foot Panther Club has already begun. million stadium, the only on-campus will be the The Panther Club, available to university stadium south of Orlando. club seat ticket holders, is an air“This will be the crown jewel of the centerpiece conditioned banquet hall where fans FIU community,” Athletic Director of FIU can eat and drink and watch scores Pete Garcia said. “Fans, students and and highlights of other games. alumni can come here and enjoy Athletics, but The Alumni Association’s popular themselves, whether it be an FIU it will also be Panther Pit Tailgates will continue to football game, a high school game, a deliver family, fun, food and prizes soccer game or a concert.” something on the north side of the stadium New stands, trimmed in FIU blue, alumni can two hours before game time. The flank the south side of the field and new stadium offers FIU alumni east end zone. The upper concourse look at to a great reason to reconnect with in the east end zone is big enough to gauge how their alma mater, said Duane Wiles, house two-lane traffic. Metered seating assistant executive director of Alumni is set at such a gradient that looking much this Relations. “Our alumni are going over the person in front of you will university to be so proud when they see the never be a problem. An open area on the south side awaits installation of the has grown.” new stadium,” he said. “It represents an enormous investment into 1,400 club seats, directly below the — building Golden Panther Pride in the 19 luxury suites under construction. community. I hope our alumni will fill The foundations are laid for the $12.5 Mario every seat in the house.” million field house and locker room, Cristobal, On campus, excitement is growing FIU football which will be nestled beneath the west coach as the stadium opener on Sept. end zone. The field house and west 20 nears. “I think it’s great,” said sophomore Vanessa Grijalba. “It is a 2008 FIU Football home games source of pride.” Senior Carmen Linarte sees more DATE OPPONENT wins in the Golden Panthers’ future Sept. 20 South Florida with the new stadium. “It will bring more students and alumni to the game Oct. 11 Middle Tennessee and I think that will help the players Nov. 8 Arkansas State (homecoming) because it will motivate them to win.” Senior Quentin Newman, a Nov. 22 Louisiana-Monroe linebacker on the football team, said Dec. 6 Western Kentucky the new stadium “is going to be hot” By Evan Koch


and will have a positive influence on the team. “It will help bring commuters out to the game as well as more people from the community outside of FIU,” Newman said. “There’s more pride for the players involved.” Football recruits have been giving the stadium rave reviews after firsthand looks during visits. “Those kids were blown away,” football coach Mario Cristobal said. “I can’t put into words how much the stadium and field house have already helped recruiting. We have a venue that South Florida kids want to play in.” A South Florida recruit himself nearly 20 years ago, Cristobal can appreciate the buzz the new stadium is creating among students, players and alumni. “This is the first time a student at a South Florida school can walk from his or her dorm and go to a primetime Division I game at a major college stadium,” Cristobal said. “At the same time, people who graduated from FIU have one more reason to come back. This stadium will be the centerpiece of FIU Athletics, but it will also be something alumni can look at to gauge how much this university has grown.” n Get your tickets now Season tickets and club seats can be purchased by calling 305-348-4263 or by visiting the box office located in Pharmed Arena Room 111 at University Park.


Florida International University Magazine



A Message from Alumni Association President Will Trueba, Jr., Esq. ’90

Dear FIU Alumni, Family and Friends, These are exciting and challenging times at FIU. The FIU College of Medicine received preliminary accreditation; the first phase of the FIU stadium is nearly complete; football Coach Mario Cristobal and his assistants scored big with top recruits; and plans to develop a “Main Street” concept with retail stores and new dorms at University Park are underway. We are also pleased to announce that, for nearly two years, the FIU Alumni Association Board of Directors, together with our Alumni Relations team, have been conducting research and outlining preliminary plans to build an FIU Alumni Center on the east side of the new stadium. This center, in addition to housing our Alumni Relations team, would be a focal point in showcasing our alma mater and the accomplishments of its alumni. The FIU Alumni Center would house important FIU awards, trophies, historical documents, memorabilia, and photographs, and would highlight significant milestones in the history of the university. It would also serve as a place where alumni, students, faculty and friends of the university could gather for special events. It is now time that FIU join the ranks of the great universities with its own Alumni Center. Your FIU Alumni Association Board of Directors will be planning the steps necessary to make an Alumni Center a reality. The primary challenge will be funding the project. We are confident that, with a “pride” that numbers more than 120,000 strong, our alumni will rise to the challenge and enthusiastically support a project that highlights the value of the education received at FIU. Anyone interested in participating in this project is encouraged to contact Alumni Relations at 305-348-3334. In the Spirit of Blue & Gold,

William R. Trueba, Jr.

Zubi Advertising account superviser David Masvidal, who is completing his MBA at FIU, Zubi Account Director Maylinn De La Maza ’92, MS ’95, a lifetime Alumni Association member, and Zubi Director of Integrated Marketing Alberto Padron ’98, who is also completing an MBA at FIU and is a lifetime member of the Alumni Association, recently presented a marketing plan to a team of Ford Motor Company excutives.

Alumni share marketing ideas with Ford Motor Company Zubi Advertising in Coral Gables is the Hispanic agency on record for Ford Motor Company, headquartered in Dearborn, Mich. Three FIU alumni/current students – David Masvidal, Maylinn De La Maza ’92, MS ’95 and Alberto Padron ’98 – participated in a high-profile meeting late last year in Dearborn to present their marketing plans to a team of key executives at Ford. What a great testimony of FIU success! n

Members-only bounce house party a family affair The Alumni Association hosted a membersonly family event in December for 60 adults and children at the Power Party Clubhouse, 6802 S.W. 81 Street. FIU alumnus and coowner Nelson Varona ’92 and his brothers David (co-owner) and Anthony Varona, both current FIU students, opened their business free of charge in support of the event. The indoor play area featured huge air-filled play structures ranging from slides to bounce houses. Adults got in on the fun, testing the accuracy of their throwing arms by tossing footballs inside one of the structures. Everyone in attendance enjoyed free pizza, soda and great music provided by a DJ. “We received so many great compliments from our members. For many, this was their first-ever alumni event and they got to share it with their kids,” said Duane Wiles, assistant executive director of the Alumni Association. “We definitely need to host more family-oriented events for both adults and kids to enjoy.” For a list of upcoming Alumni Association events, please visit n

SPRING 2008 Florida International University Magazine


Feel the Pride FIU Alumni Association ranked No. 1 for membership growth We are proud to announce that the 2007 Council of Alumni Association Executives (CAAE) survey ranks the FIU Alumni Association No. 1 for membership growth during the past fiscal year. Last year the FIU Alumni Association was ranked fifth in gaining members. The CAAE survey results are based on data gathered from 76 alumni association members representing major universities across the United States. FIU

is in good company with associations representing universities such as Michigan, Texas, Ohio State, UCLA and Stanford. The association gained 3,820 members in the past year and total membership is currently more than 13,000. “I couldn’t be more proud.” said Alumni Relations Associate Vice President Bill Draughon. “Our alumni, students and friends are stepping forward in unprecedented

• Help promote FIU • Stay connected with the FIU community For more information about PPA, please call 305-348-6614, email or visit online at n

Advertise your business in FIU Magazine Vice President of Student Affairs Rosa Jones, Panther mom Laurie Campell and her son FIU junior Jephren Perez, UP Graham Center Executive Director Ruth Hamilton and GC Associate Director Maxine Hylton took part in FIU’s Parent Family Weekend.

Panther Parents’ Association connects FIU family The Panther Parents’ Association (PPA), an official chapter of the FIU Alumni Association, is an organization that provides information and support to parents of current FIU students. PPA gives FIU parents an opportunity to interact with one another and feel connected to the FIU family. The mission of the PPA is to: • Build community among current students, parents, faculty, staff and friends of FIU • Promote the active involvement of parents in the university’s growth and development • Increase awareness about FIU to the larger community • Provide an opportunity to give feedback on FIU programs and services You should join PPA to: • Get involved in your son’s or daughter’s collegiate experience • Meet other FIU parents

Here’s your chance to promote your business in the award-winning FIU Magazine and support your alma mater at the same time! The FIU Magazine, the flagship publication of your university, is published quarterly and distributed free of charge to 120,000 FIU alumni, faculty, donors and friends of the university. For more information and to access the rate sheet, please go to fiumag/2007/Spring/ad.html. n

FIU alumna elected president of Texas A&M Elsa Murano ’81 was named the 23rd president of Texas A&M University, becoming the first woman and first Hispanic to hold the position. Murano, a 48-year-old former A&M administrator who fled Cuba as a child, was the only finalist for the post and named officially by Texas A&M System’s Board of Regents. The FIU graduate was previously vice chancellor and dean of Texas A&M’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Prior to that, she was the first Hispanic to serve as undersecretary for food safety at the U.S.

numbers to support and show their pride in FIU. They deserve all the credit for this achievement - in my eyes they have always been No. 1.” Help the Alumni Association reach its goal of 15,000 members by the end of June 2008. Join the Alumni Association today and take advantage of all the great benefits of membership by visiting our web page at n

Department of Agriculture, a position she held from 2001-2004. Born in Havana, Murano fled Cuba with her family at a young age in the early 1960s. She and her family lived in several Latin American countries before moving to Miami. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from FIU and a master’s degree in anaerobic microbiology and a Ph.D. in food science and technology from Virginia Tech University. n

Send travel photos to FIU Magazine Don’t forget when you travel to demonstrate your Panther Pride with an FIU t-shirt, cap, flag or FIU Magazine and you may appear in the Panther Sites section of this magazine. Send your high-resolution (300 dpi) photographs with a complete description to n

Golden Panther Getaways head to Mediterranean, Italy, China The FIU Alumni Association is offering three exciting Golden Panther Getaways in 2008: An Ionian Inspiration on Oceania Cruises, an all–inclusive tour of Italy’s magnificent lake district, and a trip to China. The 12-day Ionian Inspiration aboard Oceania’s Insignia departs on July 11 and takes you on a voyage from Rome to Venice. Your host will be FIU Vice President of Student Affairs Rosa Jones. You will make overnight stops in Venice, Dubrovnik, Croatia and Sorrento and visit other classic seaports. This Continues on next page


Florida International University Magazine


UPCOMING EVENTS<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

ALUMNI Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame

Alumni Association Fishing Tournament

The Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame honors alumni and others who have achieved distinction in new business enterprises



Where: Miami Beach Marina, dock party at Monty’s


Alumni Events

May 8 at 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Where:. Jungle Island, 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami Contact: Michelle Joubert, Alumni Relations, College of Business, 305-3480397 or

June 14, lines in at 7 a.m., lines out at 3 p.m. Dock party following weigh-in

Contact: Alumni Relations, 305-348-3334 or

University Events

Baseball Pre-Game Tailgate (FIU v. FAU)

BFA Spring Exhibition

Free food and beverages will be available for all. For game tickets call 1-866-FIU-GAME or call

An exhibition featuring artwork by graduating Bachelor of Fine Arts students


May 16 at 5:30 p.m. First pitch at 7 p.m.


Opening Reception April 25 at 7 p.m. Exhibit runs through May 3.

Where: Frost Art Museum, PC112

Where: FIU Baseball Stadium Skybox Suite.

Contact: Frost Art Museum, 305-348-2890

Contact: Alumni Relations, 305-348-3334 or

Concert Choir and University Chorale

Alumni Association Annual Meeting

Free concert with John Augenblick and Sam Spears conducting

The FIU Alumni Association will induct the new Board of Directors. All alumni association members are welcome to attend.



May 22, 6 – 8 p.m.

Contact: School of Music, 305-348-2896


The Reagan House at University Park

Contact: Alumni Relations 305-348-3334 School of Accounting Alumni Affinity Council Kickoff & Reunion

April 17 at 8 p.m.

Where: Wertheim Performing Arts Concert Hall

Organ Concert Free concert with Andrew Risinger, resident organist of the Nashville Symphony When:

April 20 at 4 p.m.

The Council will celebrate the 25-year anniversary of the School of Accounting

Where: Wertheim Performing Arts Center Concert Hall


Contact: School of Music, 305-348-2896

May 29 from 6-9 p.m.

Where: College of Business Complex Courtyard Contact: Michelle Joubert, Alumni Relations, College of Business, 305-3480397 or

1. The faculty of the Ph.D. program in social welfare rank No. 4 in the United States in their scholarly accomplishment, according to Academic Analytics, producers of the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index. The annual index looks at graduate programs in 172 disciplines at research universities across the country. 2. In 2007, Alejandra Alberti, a marketing student, was nominated for a Latin Grammy in the Best New Artist

Qualified individuals with disabilities as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act who need special accommodations for any FIU-sponsored event can request assistance by calling the phone number listed for the function or via Florida Relay Service at 1-800-955-8771. Requests must be made five working days before the event.

category on the strength of her debut self-titled album. 3. Professor Berrin Tansel of Civil and Environmental Engineering was recently named the 2007 Engineer of the Year by the American Society of Civil Engineers Miami-Dade Branch. 4. FIU Alumni Association membership achieved a new benchmark in 2007, surpassing 13,000 dues-paying members for the first time.

trip also calls on tiny Cinque Terre, Italy, an area so unspoiled and picturesque that it is both a national park and a UNESCO protected territory. You will travel in luxury, enjoying some of the finest cuisine at sea inspired by Oceania’s Executive Culinary Director Jacques Pepin. Through the Alumni Association, travelers receive free air and 2-for-1 cruise fares, as well as an exclusive $200 shipboard credit per stateroom. Spots are limited. For more information, call Oceania Cruises at 800-4046313 or visit In September, alumni can take a 13-day trip to China to see marvels including the Great Wall of China, Beijing’s Imperial Palace and Tiananmen Square. The Sept. 24-Oct. 6 trip includes a Yangtze River cruise and a three-night visit to the cosmopolitan city of Shanghai. All stays will be in China’s best Western-style hotels. There are limited spaces for this trip. To learn more, visit the AHI Travel Web site for FIU alumni at http://fiu.ahitravel. com/ or call 800-323-7373. In October, alumni and friends can take part in an exclusive educational and travel experience to Italy’s magnificent lake district. Highlights of this group trip from October 7-15 include: seven-

5. The tennis doubles team of senior Egle Petrauskaite and freshman Liset Brito has earned a fall ranking of No. 2 in the South Region according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. 6. Eric Goldemberg, an assistant professor in the School of Architecture, and his partner at MONAD Architects, Veronica Zalcberg, are among the few invited to create a design for the ninth annual Young Architects Program presented by The Museum of Modern

Alumni, submit your favorite FIU Points of Pride and they may appear in an upcoming issue of FIU Magazine. Send your submissions to

SPRING 2008 Florida International University Magazine


Feel the Pride night, lake-view accommodations at Lido Palace Hotel on Lake Maggiore, private boat tours of the great lakes of Italy, and visits to Milan, the Borromean Islands and to stunning Lake Orta in the mountains. Offered through the Alumni Campus Abroad program of premier tour operator AHI Travel, the trip provides security, ease and flexibility in travel. For travel prices and arrangements, visit or call 800-323-7373. Information on all of the above Golden Panther Getaways can also be seen on the FIU Alumni Association web page under the travel section at n

Alumni honored for outstanding service

the district and regional offices. In 1992, she returned to the school site, first as an assistant FIU awarded three alumni the Outstanding principal and later as a principal. She has made Alumni Service Medallion during the outstanding community contributions through December commencement ceremonies. her work with United Way, Honduras Homeless Darlene Boytell-Perez ’96 was honored Children’s Benefit and Miami Children’s Hospital for her outstanding work in patient care as Department of Hematology and Oncology. an advanced registered nurse practitioner. Timothy Petrillo ’94, a graduate of the School Throughout her career, she has dedicated of Hospitality and Tourism Management, herself to the care of adult patients in was honored for his accomplishments in gastroenterology and hepatology. She the restaurant industry. He is the president maintains a practice as an advanced nurse and co-founder of the Restaurant People, a practitioner and clinical researcher for the company with stakes in four restaurants and Gastroenterology Care Center in Miami where plans to build a fifth on Atlantic Avenue in she administers to more than 1,000 patients. Delray Beach. His firm employs 600 people New alumni center She has been at the forefront of medical and its outlets, including historic River House, plans being developed research involving experimental and approved Himmarshee Bar & Grille and Tarpon Bend Plans are being crafted for a multi-story medicines to fight hepatitis C and other liver Food and Tackle, are among the busiest in Alumni Center to be built directly east of diseases. Boytell-Perez also gives back to FIU South Florida. In 2006, he earned the Sunthe new FIU football stadium. The new by serving on the FIU Nursing Development Sentinel’s Excalibur Award as Small Business center would serve as a gathering place for Council. She is the recipient of the Dynamic Leader of the Year in Broward County. An FIU’s 120,000 alumni, students and friends Women Award from the American Cancer active community member, Petrillo serves on of the university, a venue for special events Society and the Outstanding Recognition the Steering Committee of the Fort Lauderdale and a resource for FIU students. Award from the City of Miami/Little Havana Downtown Council. He is president of the Look for updates on the Alumni Center Nutrition Activity Center. Tarpon Bend Foundation and president elect of in coming issues of FIU Magazine. Anyone Lourdes Gimenez ’76 was recognized for the Jack and Jill Children’s Center. n interested in learning more about the her outstanding service to public education. project should contact Alumni Relations As administrative director of curriculum for Associate Vice President Bill Draughon at 43 K-12 schools in Miami-Dade, Gimenez 305-348-3334. collaborates with students, parents, teachers and “The planning of a new Alumni the community to provide high-quality, childCenter will be an exciting and significant centered education to all students. Gimenez undertaking,” Draughon said. “We will began her career as a teacher in early childhood need the support and vision of all our and elementary education. She later advanced graduates in order to be successful.” n to bilingual and instructional coordinator at

Art and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in New York. 7. A team of students from the College of Law was named the Southeast Regional Champion at the American Bar Association Regional Negotiation Competition in November at Emory University. 8. The U.S. Peace Corps recognized the Environmental Studies Department last fall for its excellent service and commitment to the Masters International Program (MIP) jointly offered by FIU and the Peace Corps.

9. FIU has received a $2.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Partnership for International Research and Education program to advance global partnership in information technology research, innovation and education. 10. FIU retired the basketball jerseys of two former FIU student athletes who now play for the National Basketball Association: Raja Bell of the Phoenix Suns and Carlos Arroyo of the Orlando Magic.

Top: FIU President Modesto A. Maidique, Dean Luis Mirón, Lourdes Gimenez ’76, Provost Ron Berkman, professor Delia Garcia and Alumni Association Vice President Jose Perez de Corcho ’93. Middle: FIU President Modesto A. Maidique, FIU Trustee Rosa Sugrañes, Darlene Boytell-Perez ’96, Provost Ron Berkman, Dean Divina Grossman and Gustavo Alfonso. Bottom: FIU President Modesto A. Maidique, Dean Joe West, Timothy Petrillo ’94, Provost Ron Berkman and Alumni Relations Associate Vice President Bill Draughon.


Florida International University Magazine


Do You Know Any of Our

ALUMNI Alumni? 1970s Amalia M. Balart ’73 David E. Brody ’73 Edward L. Linder ’73 Harriet J. Offenbach ’73 Cecil A. Peacock, Jr. ’73 Kazuo Aizaki ’74 Cesar M. Baquero ’74 Denis M. Bedu ’74 Robert Beneckson ’74 Wendy A. Clein ’74 Esther Fernandez ’74 Irene Gutierrez ’74 Sandra B. Hirsch ’74 Ingeborg S. Horn ’74 Syed M. Khan ’74 Neil A. Kopel ’74 Michelle M. Medina ’74 Ong-On Patipimpakom ’74 Maria D. Perez ’74 Ronald M. Pralgo ’74 Louis Radin ’74 Steven F. Rauchman ’74 Maria T. Remsen ’74 Joaquin A. Ricardo ’74 Gilberto Sanchez ’74 Adriana M. Vanegas ’74 Gene M. Weintraub ’74 Pittaya Yingkamol ’74 Randolph W. Benton ’75 Hoon-Jin Chai ’75 Jeffrey T. Farbman ’75 Louise H. Gilman ’75 Marion A. Goff ’75 Rina K. Neeman ’75 Sames M. Powers ’75 Alberto Stoppa ’75 Ze’ev R. Studencki ’75 Fred Sylvain ’75 Antonio E. Vargas ’75 David C. Behney ’76 Thomas R. Braswell ’76 Barbara J. Citron ’76 Farajullah Forouzandeh ’76 ’79 Virginia C. Lambert ’76 Joaquin Montero ’76 Sylvia N. Murphy ’76 Richard M. Muther ’76 David A. Rosenblatt ’76 Linda F. Taft ’76

Eduardo J. Tavel ’76 Stephen J. Temple ’76 Joseph S. Tornatore ’76 Ekaterini S. Tzanakakis ’76 Tony M. Vrankic ’76 Richard Adams ’77 Carol V. Benton ’77 Jonathan W. Browne ’77 Zink G. Cadavid ’77 Reyad H. Choudhury ’77 Manuel A. Diaz, Esq. ’77 Susan D. Diaz ’77 Elia E. Falco ’77 Robert M. Gross ’77 B. J. Hansen ’77 Egho S. Igbineweka ’77 Yuphawan Nangkalaphivath ’77 Idilia M. Obrenovic ’77 Richard C. Pomerance ’77 Catherina Ricco ’77 Maria E. Sanchez ’77 Lori D. Shapiro ’77 Francis W. Smith ’77 Uzi Weiner ’77 Steven W. Anderson ’78 Laurie S. Cardona ’78 Mary Y. Clark ’78 Larry B. Cole ’78 Wanda B. Colton ’78 Timothy G. Copley ’78 Gustavo G. De Quesada ’78 ’79 ’81 Cynthia K. Gimbel ’78 Patricia M. Gonzalez ’78 Mary T. Griffey ’78 Mary L. Holloman ’78 Helen H. Lagodlagod ’78 Maxine D. Roth ’78 Jean W. Saint ’78 Sylvia R. Seaton ’78 Doris J. Stout ’78 Valerie A. Walawender ’78 Kathleen Doherty ’79 Ronald L. Foster ’79 Rita G. Honor ’79 Gerald D. Hotopp, Jr. ’79 Ngochuong T. Huynh ’79 Ana A. Kruer ’79 Martha L. Moreno ’79 Festus O. Obaseki ’79 Arturo J. Rodriguez ’79

Aleida M. Socarras ’79 Teresa F. Wright ’79 1980s Abdulmohsen A. Albakr ’80 Sampedro J. Aviles ’80 Theresa A. Binder ’80 Morela Delgado ’80 Patricia A. Delli-Rocili ’80 Nematallah Maleki ’80 Jill K. Myatt ’80 Rodolfo F. Neuhaus ’80 Eva Perez-Puelles ’80 Bruna Romani ’80 Denise M. Tomlinson ’80 Cloie N. Williams ’80 Malka Bejman ’81 Dorit Benbassat ’81 Luis C. Betancourt ’81 Thania M. Colli ’81 Nenni Delmestre ’81 Angel M. Gonzalez ’81 Vincent T. Gray ’81 Larisa A. Greenfield ’81 James A. Herring ’81 Frances A. Horwitz ’81 Sister P. M. Huber ’81 Maria M. Jubis ’81 Ellen C. Liebman ’81 Maluvi Martin ’81 Vanessa T. Meister ’81 Dennis A. Morales ’81 Anthony I. Okosun ’81 Guillermo E. Paz ’81 Tamara Protovin ’81 Becky Reytan ’81 Maria T. Ronderos ’81 Leopoldo J. Serrano ’81 Mireya E. Zell-Peraza ’81 Raul J. Aguila, Esq. ’82 Husan A. Al-Omar ’82 Maite L. Alvarez ’82 Ignacio Artinano ’82 Jolae Brocato, Ph.D. ’82 Leila A. Chaar ’82 Arlon D. Costa ’82 Daniel W. Courtney ’82 Linda G. Cutberth, Esq. ’82 Robert Jean-Michel ’82 Susana R. Pardo ’82 Sussan Pourjavid ’82

Efren R. Redondo ’82 James A. Starkloff ’82 Irene Taylor ’82 Catharine M. Utvich ’82 Claude A. Wells ’82 Terry N. Williams ’82 Belen C. Zerpa ’82 Nabeel I. Al-Mannae ’83 Luis E. Arevalo ’83 Adriana M. Celorio ’83 Robert Correa ’83 Enrique E. Delgado ’83 Seyed A. Emadian ’83 Thais Garcia ’83 Paul M. Goodman ’83 Jumoke Y. Maja ’83 Rudy S. Nichlany ’83 Virginia D. Perez ’83 Gilda A. Pezeshkian ’83 Michael C. Phang Sang ’83 Elsa Pietrantoni ’83 Patrick Shana ’83 Victoria P. Shaw ’83 Sandra B. Williams ’83 Franklin J. Acosta ’84 Antoine Aznar ’84 Adalba C. Brun ’84 A. E. Cannon ’84 Regina M. Ceballos ’84 Maria N. Crdanes ’84 Marlene Diesis ’84 Clara H. Evans ’84 Clara M. Giannini ’84 Monica R. Gomez ’84 Ramon Lebron, Jr. ’84 Ann M. Lee ’84 Alicia Lopez-Garzon ’84 Mojtaba Morraveji ’84 Suzanne I. Peoples ’84 Mark R. Reon ’84 Sirpa O. Rokkanen ’84 Deyanira M. Romero ’84 Olga B. Santana de Rangel ’84 Horacio O. Saragovi ’84 Ilana Yuhjtman ’84 Laura L. Ballotta ’85 Cecilia N. Belyeu ’85 Richard E. Bendeck ’85 Virginia A. Bendt ’85 James A. Busch ’85 Guei F. Chang ’85 Jorge Echaniz-Espinosa ’85

Rochelle M. Epstein ’85 Lazara Z. Gordon ’85 Teresa M. Harb ’85 Vahid Javaherian ’85 Carmen E. Lichtenegger ’85 Renate Rissmann ’85 Luis F. Ronderos ’85 Jafar A. Taqi ’85 Gladys Vicente ’85 Sandra R. Willumsen ’85 Jasem M. Abdulrahman ’86 Elizabeth Arias ’86 Toshihiro Arima ’86 Marie-Josee Danois ’86 Elizabeth Q. Diaz ’86 Rodrigo R. Duque ’86 Maria I. Fiedler ’86 Melanie J. Kreckovsky ’86 Yvonne McQuillan ’86 Lucretia O. Odewumi ’86 Daniel Oudnarine ’86 Rosy Pantin ’86 Debbie-Anne Stultz ’86 Pablo Albornoz ’87 Saad M. Bhatty ’87 Mayrelis T. Diaz ’87 Zurilma O. Fermin ’87 Regulo A. Guerra ’87 Luis A. Murillo ’87 Magalie S. Pierre-Louis ’87 Mercedes Rodriguez ’87 Roger G. Arteaga ’88 April D. Buscher ’88 Allison P. Christie ’88 Mary Dancs ’88 Sylvia Garcia-Padilla ’88 Pablo J. Gutierrez ’88 Maria F. Invernizzi ’88 Mirla E. Maduro ’88 Melanie C. McConnell ’88 Eduardo S. Nucete ’88 Rhona D. Williams ’88 David E. Wood ’88 Carla Amar ’89 Yuna Chen ’89 Miriam Finkelman ’89 Yuan-Shih Kou ’89 Beverlyn D. Symonette ’89 Paola Taddeo ’89 Marie-Helena Taquet ’89 Miryam Watnik-Bigio ’89

SPRING 2008 Florida International University Magazine


Feel the Pride

Please help us find the ‘lost’ alumni of the College of Arts and Sciences so that we can reconnect with them and help them stay in touch with their alma mater. Check to see if you recognize anyone’s name on the list. If you do, please fill out the information on the address

update form located at to the best of your ability. That graduate can then begin receiving copies of our award-winning quarterly FIU Magazine and monthly NOW@FIU e-newsletter along with a host of other important news flashes from the FIU Alumni Association. If you have any questions about the process or initiative, please do not hesitate to call 1-800-FIU-ALUM or e-mail And thank you for helping us find our ‘lost’ alumni!

1990s John W. Barret ’90 Raul E. Calderon ’90 Carlos V. Cepero ’90 Chidung T. Chen ’90 Fayma A. Childs ’90 Marvin E. Clarke ’90 Victoria A. Dalmas ’90 Maria J. P. Irvin ’90 Tae-Sung Kim ’90 Elisa Kiper ’90 Eddy N. Labossiere ’90 Carlos A. Lopez ’90 Lilian Pfeiffer ’90 Karlene L. Phillipe ’90 Dominique S. Provost-Buisson ’90 Monica L. Samudio ’90 Marta Satrustegui ’90 Eduardo F. Umanzor ’90 V. Judith Vosburgh ’90 Suzanne E. Weinsztok ’90 Luis A. Yomal ’90 Michel H. Chebat, Jr. ’91 Wycliffe C. Fahie ’91 Kathy Garham ’91 Stacy B. Goldsmith ’91 Murat Gultepe ’91 Fiona M. Imbert ’91 Ana C. Sierra ’91 Denise C. Wigglesworth ’91 Sandy-Althea Celestin ’92 Benoit J. Chagnon ’92 Ivette Garcia ’92 Lorrinda Hanna ’92 Michael Heaney ’92 Mario E. Madhosingh ’92 Friedrich B. Meermann ’92 Thomas Sakoulas ’92 Alina A. Sanchez ’92 Stephan F. Turowski ’92 Farrah Alcoser ’93 John Bugden ’93 Chaoyong Cheng ’93 Jose Esandi ’93 Vicente Garcia-Gonzalvo ’93 Merceditas Sanchez ’93 Chiara Tamagnini ’93 Lina Zein ’93 Greg A. Cohen ’94 Travis H. Culley ’94 Sandra D. M. Douglas ’94

Nada R. Fulayfil ’94 Chia-Wen Huang ’94 Kiho Kim ’94 Patrick J. Kovacs ’94 Carlos Moslares, Ph.D. ’94 Steve G. Sims ’94 Michael R. Soave ’94 Cecile T. Tepper ’94 Federico Tournier ’94 Julian Acosta ’95 Nidia N. Alonso ’95 Enrique R. De Azero ’95 Maria D. P. Gumucio ’95 Ramona A. M. Hernandez ’95 Yudit Hernandez ’95 Sharita Hossain ’95 Yasmin La Rocca, Ph.D. ’95 ’01 Zhang Lei ’95 Maria A. Martinez ’95 Pascale C. Mayer ’95 Heidi Niedermair ’95 Marianella Valera ’95 Susan M. Williams ’95 Hasan Anlar ’96 Christian A. Biro ’96 Angela G. Calderon ’96 Gonzalo Galan ’96 Todd Hendrix ’96 ’98 Daisy M. Herrera ’96 Piyal S. Kariyawasam ’96 Dolores V. Levi ’96 Chung-Man Lo ’96 Kevin A. Mallory ’96 Jessica Martinez ’96 Michele J. Prendergast ’96 Paul D. Richards ’96 Roxann N. Robinson ’96 Alex Salvi ’96 Maren I. Skjelbreidalen ’96 Ofer Abudi ’97 Luis F. Azurduy, Jr. ’97 Katherine E. Bird ’97 Aline Boos ’97 Michela Carro ’97 Wendy E. Diaz ’97 Dimitri A. Francelet ’97 Diego Frank ’97 Tanya I. Garcia ’97 Brigitte A. Johnson ’97 Jaime Rivero ’97 Antoinette B. E. Rolle ’97

Andrea D. Sankar ’97 Naushad N. Vadsaria ’97 Michelle R. White ’97 Carolina Cambra ’98 Mina G. Dwoskin ’98 Jennifer L. Fermin ’98 Nickeey K. Malcolm ’98 Tahani F. A. Mansour ’98 Valeria Perrotta ’98 Rene F. Ruiz, III ’98 Shannon E. Brill ’99 Mery L. Castro ’99 ’06 Joseph S. Dunleavy ’99 Gabrielle Kortsch ’99, ’01, ’03 Julian A. Medina ’99 Christine Nestor Graquitena, Esq. ’99 Anya Selecki ’99 Josua Stoll ’99 Jessica M. Suarez ’99 Maria D. P. Suarez ’99 Mehmet A. Ulubasoglu, Ph.D. ’99 Takeshi Yamada ’99 2000s Isabel Gonzalez ’00 Sasha J. S. Henry ’00 Renee L. Lara ’00 Heather D. Lent-Martinez ’00 Elizabeth R. Mayo ’00 Sara Mizrahi ’00 Stephanie H. Moss ’00 Dina P. Rojas ’00 Luis M. Segovia ’00 Adam D. Wood ’00 ’05 Glenis C. B. York ’00 Sheria King ’01 Jan Kleinert ’01 Aileen Lopez ’01 Lia Nicholls ’01 Jenny Rodriguez ’01 Esther Romero ’01 Chavelt Saint Charles ’01 Avrelios Stergides ’01 Dean L. Taylor ’01 Hellen Thomson ’01 Eulalia Uribe ’01 Jose J. Valerio ’01 Soveyda A. Ashlar ’02 Leonardo P. F. D. Carvalho ’02 Mariana Diaz ’02

Isabel P. Eguren ’02 Nazly Elsawaf ’02 Yudenis Fernandez ’02 Orkatz Iturregui ’02 Sumire Matsuda ’02 Rieko Nagai ’02 Luanna C. Rahman ’02 Maria P. Sanz ’02 Lesley Sorzano ’02 Teresita Suarez-Fanjul ’02 Givi Tskvitinidze ’02 Marketa Valkova ’02 Saulo M. Almeida ’03 Carilynn Alvarez ’03 Luis Arroyo Mora ’03 Iscar Blanco ’03 Barbara A. Felsmann ’03 Mikkel B. Hine ’03 Kyeja Keiko L. Macswan ’03 Elizabeth I. Martinez ’03 Irene Mogna ’03 Adrian Morales Dobrzynski ’03 Elda Ortivero ’03 Jionel E. Pierre ’03 Candice C. Rambarath ’03 Eduard Reboll ’03 Saori Sakuma ’03 Maria Salas ’03 Mayda M. Sumalla ’03 Izumi Suzuki ’03 Hugo A. Us ’03 Juliana VelasquezRamirez ’03 Gregory I. Basior ’04 Ileana G. Bermudez ’04 Amanda M. Bullough ’04 Sher Ling Eng ’04 Jaime R. Garcia ’04 Georgia Guthrie ’04 Ryunosuke Iino ’04 Justin H. Long ’04 Esteban Lopez ’04 ’06 Alex K. Manda ’04 Brandon J. Martinez ’04 Artemi X. Melchor ’04 Flavio H. Moreno-Hurtado ’04 Rhys R. Parsons ’04 Visnia M. Scanio ’04 Julia D. Speropoulos ’04 Christine C. Suard ’04 Erica A. Vieira De Albuquer ’04 Laura C. Vitale ’04

Weihua Zhang ’04 Marieva Bastien ’05 Juan C. Belli ’05 Melanie Froimzon ’05 Maria I. Lopez ’05 Nelson J. Matias ’05 Ahmad Muttaqin ’05 Norberto Ortiz ’05 Helena J. Rozental ’05 Stephanie Salamanca ’05 Megna M. Sangles ’05 Guillermo A. Sarmiento ’05 Richard V. Snyder ’05 Eugenia Velez ’05 Silvije Vidovic ’05 Huizhen Wang ’05 Johana M. Abuzgheibreh ’06 Angela T. Beamer ’06 Shannon K. Blum ’06 Sacha A. Boxill ’06 Cintia C. Carciochi ’06 Dongming Chen ’06 Yisell Cirion ’06 Merritt S. Cook ’06 Cristina G. Diez-Arguelles ’06 Michelle L. Flesche ’06 Vanessa M. Garcia ’06 Katisha N. Gloster ’06 Marialina Gonzalez ’06 Ros-Ana M. Guillen ’06 Yama Hasheme ’06 Omaira Hernandez ’06 Nerissa R. Hosein ’06 Karina S. Krause ’06 Monica Leon ’06 Jenna L. McGlynn ’06 Alberto J. Perez ’06 Teruyuki Tsuji ’06 Cara B. Whittaker ’06 Melissa E. Abdo ’07 Alexis K. Fishbaugh ’07 Anjuli C. Gustafson ’07 Melissa D. Hollander ’07 Lesley J. Kayler ’07 Mary R. Miller ’07 Providence E. Okoye ’07 Kevin Perez ’07 Cary Rodriguez ’07 Mariella Zablah ’07 To be continued in the next issue.


Florida International University Magazine


ALUMNI Luis V. Alvarado ’83 received a certificate in retirement planning from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and was awarded by AXA Advisors the title of retirement planning specialist.

CLASS NOTES 1970s Betty Laird Perry ’74 recently recieved Ashland High School’s distinguished alumnus award along with a diverse group of graduates of the classes of 1945-’79. Russell W. Bendel ’76 became the president and chief operation officer of The Cheesecake Factory Restaurants, Inc., and as an executive officer of the company last September. Bendel now is responsible for leading all aspects of the day-to-day operations of The Cheesecake Factory restaurants. Roy Lipner ’76 was named president and chief operation officer of Questar Assessment, Inc. Lipner is based in Questar’s Apple Valley, Minn., office. Joni L. Goodman Esq. ’78 is one of four regional directors for the Statewide Guardian Ad Litem Program, overseeing the Guardian Ad Litem programs of the Southern Judicial Circuits of Florida. Goodman is the executive director of the Guardian Ad Litem Program of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit. She has been the director of this child advocacy program since 1982. Ric Morgan ’79 had his book “Train of Tomorrow” published by Indiana University Press last May.

1980s Cristian M. Barrios ’80 has been named chairman of Vordel, an enterprise XML network infrastructure company. Barrios will work closely with the company’s board of directors and executive team to expand its global sales and business development operations. Justo L. Pozo ’80, president of Preferred Care Partners, Inc., has been elected to the board of directors of the FIU Foundation.

Humberto L. Irigoyen ’81 has been named executive vice president and chief financial officer of Ozburn-Hessey Logistics.

Glynis A. Bryan ’85 has joined Insight Enterprises, Inc., as the company’s chief financial officer. Bryan is in charge of the finance function of the company, including financial strategy, accounting, treasury, tax and investor communications. Insight is a leading provider of brand-name information technology hardware, software and services to large enterprises, small-to-mediumsized businesses and public sector institutions in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific.

Joaquin Arguello ’91 was recently appointed senior vice president in charge of BAC Florida Bank’s domestic banking division. Previously, Arguello was senior vice president and market manager at BankUnited. Jules Molina ’93 has begun a residency in neuropsychiatry at Texas Tech University. Molina is married and has four children. William L. Parker ’93 has been named partner Insurance firm InSource, Inc. Parker specializes in contract surety, construction and risk management accounts. Dianne M. Fernandez ’94 recently gave birth to her son Kyle. Fernandez is a news reporter for Channel 7 News.

Cecilia Duran Simmons Esq. ’86 has been promoted within the law firm of Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, P.A. Simmons joined the firm in 2001 and practices in all areas of commercial litigation.

Gregory D. Bossart Ph.D. ’95 was nominated for the prestigious Indianapolis Prize, the world’s leading award for animal conservation. Bossart has dedicated more than 25 years to improving wildlife health, spanning from birds of prey to dolphins and manatees.

Leonard D. Nash ’87 brokered the transaction through which the Cuban Museum in Miami acquired the Arturo di Filippi building from the Florida Grand Opera. The Cuban Museum plans to build its new facility at that location. Nash also is a published author whose short story collection, “You Can’t Get There from Here and Other Stories,” was published last September by Kitsune Books.

Catherina M. Pareto ’95, MBA ’06 recently was promoted to partner at Investor Solutions, Inc., an independent, fee-only investment management firm. Pareto is senior financial advisor at the firm and senior member of Investor Solutions’ Investment Committee. She is a certified financial planner and an accredited investment fiduciary practitioner. She joined the company in 1997 as marketing director.

Henry Rodriguez ’86, MS ’88 returned to FIU last year to make presentations to faculty and students in his current capacity as director of the Clinical Proteomic Technologies Initiative for Cancer at the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute. After graduating from FIU, Rodriguez earned a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from Boston University and an MBA from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Business Management.

Kirill Reznik Esq. ’95 was nominated by the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee and subsequently elected to fill a vacancy in the Maryland State Legislature. Reznik replaced former Delegate Nancy King, who ascended to the Maryland Senate.

1990s Gilberto Perez Esq. ’90 recently was named president of the Association of Family Law Professionals. The organization comprises family law judges, family law attorneys, certified public accountants, mental health specialists and certified mediators who are committed to working together in a cooperative fashion to resolve the problems resulting from the breakup of family relationships. Perez focuses his practice in the area of divorce, marital and family law.

Dolores G. Ripper ’96 is a 76-year-old greatgrandmother working full time as a psychotherapist. Ripper also is a board-certified psychodramatist. She lives within a 15- mile radius of her four children. Michael R. Torres ’96, MBA ’00 and wife

Ana-Margarita Torres ’96 welcomed baby girl

Paola Andrea Torres on May 31, 2007. Paola Andrea weighed 6 lbs. 3 oz. and measured 18.5 inches.

Beatriz M. Alvarez ’97 has been appointed a board member of the FIU Business Alumni Chapter. Alvarez also serves as a sub-committee member for the 20/30 Group for the Coral Gables Chamber, as well as a committee member for the Fairchild Palms. Stephen E. Wechsler ’97 is vice president of Thomas D. Wood and Company, an independently owned, leading commercial mortgage banking

**Individuals denoted with a are members of the FIU Alumni Association. To become a member, please visit the online membership site at:

SPRING 2008 Florida International University Magazine


Feel the Pride firm in the southeast. Headquartered in Coral Gables, the company has offices in Tampa and Winter Park, Fla. Juan G. Gomez ’99, a native of Mexico City, recently passed the rigorous examination and arduous skills testing of The Court of Master Sommeliers. Gomez was among only eight individuals last year who passed the examination. He is the master sommelier at The Flagler Steakhouse at The Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Fla., which he joined in 1999. Lorna T. Ingram ’99 received a master of science degree in community health care from Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus, last May. Jose Valmana ’99 boarded the Abora III, a replica of a stone-age reed boat, which set sail for the second time in New York last summer. The expedition’s goal was to prove the existence of advanced navigation in pre-historic times. 2000s Demian M. Bellumio ’00, the chairman of the Alumni Circle, and his company, Hoodiny Entertainment Group, were featured in an issue of South Florida Business Journal last summer. In its latest round of financing, Hoodiny Entertainment Group said it had raised more than $9 million from investors in the United States and Spain. Steve W. Caceres ’00 served in Operation Iraqi Freedom with the Florida Army National Guard 1st Battalion, 124 Infantry Regiment, as the battalion’s signal officer. In March 2004, the 600man group returned to Miami. Today, Caceres is completing the executive MBA program at the University of Miami and works for Terremark Worldwide as a project manager. He continues to serve in the Reserves and now is a captain. Marybel Rodriguez ’00 is a weekend anchor for UPN33 News as well as a reporter for CBS4 and My33. Rodriguez began her career as a co-host of the popular television show “Sabado Gigante,” the long-running entertainment program seen in every Spanish-speaking country in the world. She currently also is the national spokesperson for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Randall J. Wisser ’00 graduated in 2006 from Cornell University with a Ph.D. in plant genetics and breeding. Wisser followed his achievement

with a post-doctorate research position with the United States Dept of Agriculture located and affiliated with the North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He hopes to develop international programs in impoverished countries to maximize their crop and farming resources. Miguel R. Lara ’02 has joined Rasco, Reininger, Perez, Esquenazi & Vigil, P.L., as an associate in the firm’s litigation practice group. A recent graduate of the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, Lara’s practice is devoted primarily to complex civil litigation involving contract disputes, business torts and select personal injury cases. Ingrid Fernandez-Casey MA ’06 has just been awarded a five-year fellowship to Stanford University for a doctoral degree in the Modern Thought and Literature Program, one of Stanford’s Interdisciplinary Study in the Humanities programs. Ingrid’s FIU master’s thesis in the English Department, “Identity and the Seduction of Desire: The Films of David Cronenberg,” was directed by English and Humanities professor Richard P. Sugg, with associate professor of English and humanities Bruce Harvey and creative writer Dan Wakefield serving second and third readers. Karla P. Arguello ’03, MBA ’07 was recently promoted to partner at Investor Solutions, Inc., an independent, fee-only investment management firm. Arguello is chief operating and compliance officer (COO). She joined the company in 1999 as operations manager and was promoted to COO in 2004. Zameer S. Upadhya ’03 accepted the South Region Chapter of the Year award for the Miami Chapter, at the 2007 ALPFA National Convention. Upadhya founded FIU’s chapter of ALPFA in 2001 and is the first student to sit on the national board and the current president of the ALPFA Miami chapter, as well as the director for the South Region Chapter. David C. Suarez ’04, Interactive Training Solutions (ITS) president and CEO, was featured in The Actor’s Other Career Book by Lisa Mulcahy. The book dedicated a section to the Miami native and how he has created a thriving business from his passion for improv comedy. Offering customized corporate training, team building, executive coaching, public speaking and presentation-skills workshops, ITS employs creative strategies to address issues, needs and challenges facing companies and employees alike.

Sabrina H. Sosa ’05 recently became the first community relations coordinator at His House Children’s Home, a position the organization created for her after her third interview. Robert A. Valencia ’05 was selected last fall to be part of the United Nations Internship Graduate Program at the global headquarters, where he worked in the UN Chronicle, a quarterly publication from the organization. Mary A. Izquierdo ’06 is working as a project architect at CSD Architecture’s new office in Downtown Miami. Krystel Ramos ’07, a former president of the FIU Accounting Association and now its consulting officer, recently received two student awards at the ALPFA National Convention – South Region Student of the Year and ALPFA National Student of the Year.

Panther Perks: Panther Partner: NuAge PC is an IT consulting company that distinguishes itself from its competition with outstanding customer service. The company merged with Product Net, a Web development company that has more than 10 years of experience developing Web sites in the United States and Colombia. What makes this merger unique is that both owners are FIU alumni. Elliott Mason ’03, owner of NuAge PC, offers a variety of services ranging from basic computer and wireless network setup to data migration and recovery. Luis Roncancio ’07, owner of Product Net, provides Web software development and software solutions based on open software, aligning IT resources with business strategy for maximum return on IT investments. Panther Perk: FIU Alumni Association members receive 10 percent off on any services. How to Take Advantage: Contact NuAge PC by calling 877-682-4372 or e-mailing To learn more about NuAge PC, visit Contact Product Net, Corp by calling 305-335-0337 or e-mailing info@ To learn more about Product Net, visit

How to submit a Class Note: Share your good news with your fellow alumni by filling out an online Class Notes form at Send us information on recent hires, promotions, awards, career achievements, appointments, births and marriages. You may also fax us your information to 305-348-3636, ATT: Class Notes. Electronic photos can be submitted in jpeg or bitmap format to appear with class notes by e-mailing Please indicate in the e-mail which class note the photo should appear with, along with the full names and class years of all the individuals who appear in the photo.


Florida International University Magazine


donor profile: C.A.M.P. 4 Justice Foundation

From left to right; Mirta Mendez, Osvaldo and Mirta Costa, Michael Mendez ’03, Marlene Alejandre-Triana, Miriam and Mario T. de la Peña.

Gift supports human rights and global justice program at FIU By Martin Haro ’05

In 1996, two airplanes carrying Brothers to the Rescue volunteer pilots Carlos A. Costa, Armando Alejandre Jr. ’88, Pablo Morales and Mario M. de la Peña were shot down by Cuban MiG fighter jets as the men flew over international waters searching for Cuban refugees adrift at sea. The incident sparked international outrage and left four families devastated. The tragedy inspired a legacy of hope as the pilots’ families created the C.A.M.P. 4 Justice Foundation to continue the men’s work helping the oppressed. (C.A.M.P. is an acronym of their first names.) The organization and the FIU College of Law share a passion for human rights that recently led C.A.M.P. 4 Justice to make a generous gift to the law school to establish the C.A.M.P. 4 Justice Human Rights Initiative Endowment Fund as a tribute to the fallen pilots. The total impact of the gift will exceed $1 million. “The C.A.M.P. 4 Justice Foundation is pursuing its commitment to international human rights while at the same time making a great difference for the College of Law in its ability to attract future lawyers who will carry the banner of international human rights,” said College of Law Dean Leonard Strickman.

“This gift is born out of the sacrifices of the Costa, Alejandre, Morales and de la Peña families,” said professor Jeremy Levitt, director of the Program for Human Rights and Global Justice. “It will enable us to train the next generation of human rights lawyers that will empower the voiceless by speaking truth to power.” “The College of Law is vital to the community and a very important advocate of human rights issues in South Florida, particularly in terms of immigration,” said Michael Mendez ’03, one of Costa’s nephews and a foundation director. (The Carlos A. Costa Immigration and Human Rights Clinic in the College of Law is named after the Brothers to the Rescue volunteer in recognition of a previous gift given by the Costa Foundation of Miami.) “When the opportunity to create this human rights initiative was proposed, it was an obvious fit with the foundation’s mission,” Mendez said. “Our goal to protect human rights came together with the college’s very nicely.” This is not the first time C.A.M.P. 4 Justice has supported student endeavors at the university. In 2005, the foundation made a $100,000 gift to the Alumni Association to establish and endow a C.A.M.P. 4 Justice

Foundation Human Rights Scholarship program that supports full-time, degreeseeking students who are committed to furthering the cause of human rights. The scholarship was a milestone in the history of the Alumni Association and remains the single-largest gift made to the organization. Mendez said he hopes this latest gift to the College of Law will transcend the university and the community, becoming a “truly global initiative.” “We want to empower people whose rights are being violated and those who want to fight for them,” he said. “Our dream is to enable FIU students to do what’s best everywhere they go.” One of the primary goals of the Program for Human Rights and Global Justice is to develop and support student participation in an array of internship, fellowship and research opportunities related to international law or foreign affairs in the United States and beyond. In recognition of the foundation’s gift, the university will name a teaching courtroom in Rafael Diaz-Balart Hall the C.A.M.P. 4 Justice Courtroom and will install a plaque in the courtroom dedicated to the legacy of Carlos A. Costa, Armando Alejandre Jr. ’88, Pablo Morales and Mario de la Peña. n


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FIU Magazine - Spring 2008 - A License to Heal