Cristina Rodriguez-Acosta

Degree: Ph.D. in Public Affairs

College/School: Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs

When her father became ill with cancer, Cristina Rodriguez-Acosta considered giving up her studies as a Ph.D. student at FIU to spend more time with him. He always told her he wanted a “doctor” in the family, so she persisted. While raising three children and working full-time as deputy director of FIU’s Institute for Public Management and Community, Cristina not only completed her doctorate in public affairs, she has since emerged as one of the top scholars in North America in the field of Latin American government.

In March, Cristina traveled to Ecuador on behalf of the U.S. State Department to speak on local government reform. In the last year, she has spoken at large gatherings of government leaders in Brazil, Chile, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

During her more than 20 years at FIU, Cristina has overseen one of the largest annual gatherings of Latin American leaders in the region, the Inter-American Conference of Mayors and Local Authorities, co-sponsored by the World Bank. She recently helped bring a group of Cuban entrepreneurs to FIU for two weeks of training in finance, accounting, marketing and sales.

Cristina credits her success at balancing work, family and school to the support of her colleagues and her mentor, Allan Rosenbaum, director of the institute where she works. Although her father died before she graduated, Cristina said she believes he is “very proud and smiling from above.’’