Breny DaParre Garcia

Degree: Ed.D. in Higher Education

College/School: College of Arts, Sciences & Education

When Breny DaParre Garcia was 21 years old and working toward earning her bachelor’s degree from FIU, the unthinkable happened. Carbon monoxide poisoning claimed the life of her sorority sister and close friend, Janelle Bertot, and Bertot’s boyfriend, Anthony Perez, as they sat in a parked car in a Weston shopping center.

It was a moment that changed Breny, now 32, forever. As president of the sorority, it fell on her shoulders to provide comfort to so many others who were grieving, while seeing firsthand the challenges that a university faces in helping its students cope with unexpected loss.

Breny further explored the topic of crisis management at the university level during a graduate level course taught by FIU Dean of Students Cathy Akens, which ultimately inspired her doctoral dissertation.

Mentored by FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg and Akens, Breny investigated how presidents and crisis managers at each of Florida’s 12 State University System schools responded to and managed crises as they arose.

Breny found that in order to properly manage these challenges, university presidents must work closely with their emergency management leaders to improve communication. University presidents, she found, also must strike a balance between being too hands-on and too hands-off.

After commencement, Breny a longtime FIU employee, will continue working at the university as the assistant vice president for institutional relations, leading select institutional and presidential initiatives involving key university donors, community partners, academic organizations and student initiatives.