A Story of Sacrifice, Hard Work, and Hope: FIU and its DC Panther Interns

June 6, 2013

​As the summer kicks into full gear, we here at the Federal Relations office have the privilege of getting to know some of the best students that FIU has to offer as they arrive in Washington to start their Federal internships.  Last week, one visit was of particular significance as it portrayed the important role we play for FIU and also three critical issues being debated this week: namely Financial Aid, STEM Education, and Immigration Reform.

Rosario and her father

​Rosario Vidales is an Agroecology student, with a major in Environmental Studies at FIU. She is interning at the Belltsville Agricultural Research Station in Maryland. Dr. Bhat, the Co-Director of the Agroecology Program stated that, "She is a very dynamic student, who is very active in research and co-curricular activities.  This is her second year of internship with USDA.  She is also working with one of our faculty members, Dr. Hong Liu, on horticultural plants during the regular semesters.  We are very proud of her!" She and her father, Roberto, stopped by our office to get to know the staff, and tell us their story over a cup of coffee.

As we spoke to them, their passion for FIU became clear. Roberto explained that he always wanted his daughter to go to FIU because of its unique opportunities and connections to Latin America; and just as well its upstart, ambitious approach to tackling its priorities.

As he told his story, his eyes watered as he described the hardships he had to endure to come to America from Mexico. As an immigrant, he was never given the benefit of the doubt and had to provide for his family based on his work ethic and moral character. He works for the City of Homestead and has dedicated his life to ensuring that his children take advantage of all of the opportunities available to them, including attending Florida International University. Roberto said, "FIU is the school with the best opportunities for my daughter, that is why I encouraged her to attend." He now wants to continue giving back by ensuring Hispanic parents are more informed of the financial aid choices available to them.

Click here to hear Rosario and Roberto tell their story!

​Often times, we become stuck in the policy grind and never look up to see the faces of the people we advocate for on a daily basis.  Little did the Vidales' know that they were providing testimonial on three critical issues being addressed this very same week in our nation's capital, and priorities for the FIU in DC team. On Tuesday President Obama revealed his STEM education plan which outlines strategies to increase funding and promote these vital programs. Also this week, the Senate is scheduled to vote on loan interest rates in an attempt to keep them from doubling. Finally, our team in DC is leading a group of representatives from the higher education community to meet with members of Florida Senator Marco Rubio's staff to discuss the Immigration Reform Bill as well as other issues that will affect our students.

As we tackle some of our federal priorities such as STEM Education, Pell Grants, and even Immigration Reform, it’s important to remember that our daily work here in DC has a tangible effect on the FIU and South Florida community.

We are extremely proud of Rosario and we were glad to welcome her to our intern orientation on Tuesday along with over 15 other FIU students who are engaged around the capital. Rosario, and Roberto, are just one example of what makes FIU “World’s Ahead”.