Fostering Panther Pride

For most FIU students, daily challenges include finding a parking space, getting to class on time, passing their exams, balancing work and school. Some of our students, however, face a challenge which makes receiving an FIU degree seem nearly impossible: they are homeless. With no support system, no financial foundation and no home to return to after class, these students lack the stability needed to succeed at FIU.

The challenges – and the numbers – are daunting. In Fall 2014, FIU estimated there were more than 80 homeless or former foster care youth enrolled at the university.

Despite overwhelming obstacles, these students choose to be at FIU – allocating their limited resources to attend this university. They understand the importance of an FIU degree and the power of higher education. They understand that FIU will lead them to a life of prosperity and security.

Recognizing the potential in both homeless and former foster care students, FIU created the Fostering Panther Pride initiative. We provide university-wide, customized services to students which empower them to succeed and graduate from FIU. For students such as Vanessa Morales, the junior Elementary Education major pictured above, Fostering Panther Pride opens a world of opportunity.

By supporting services ranging from housing and job placement to academic advising and mentoring opportunities, donors to this initiative help us create proud Panthers who embody FIU’s role as a beacon of hope.

"FIU has been my home for more than 40 years. When I support the university through financial donations, I am only returning a small portion of the benefits the university has given me and my family."

− Darden Pyron, Professor of History, Founding Professor of FIU’s College of Arts & Sciences, Senior Honors Fellow

"An investment in FIU is an investment in the future of the South Florida community and the state."

− Scott Norberg, J.D., Professor of FIU’s College of Law

"The planned gift is my way of saying thank you to FIU for starting me on my career in the hospitality industry. Hopefully other alumni or friends of the university will realize that a monetary gift benefits FIU and furthers the education of current or future students."

− John E. Onachilla ’77, graduate of FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management

"I have been on the other side seeking scholarships and loans. Knowing how frustrating it can be, I give to causes that support students…. It is a very small token of appreciation, but I hope the little I do will make a huge difference."

− Kalai Mathee, Ph.D., Professor & Founding Chair, Department of Molecular Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, of FIU’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine

"We are proud to partner with FIU, Miami’s public research university. So many of our students need financial assistance to access the opportunities an FIU education can provide."

− Nathan Kurland, Chair of the Miami Bayside Foundation Board of Directors