Daniel Padron

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Chemistry

College/School: School of Integrated Science and Humanity, College of Arts, Sciences & Education

As a young boy, Daniel Padron mimicked scientists from cartoons. He would make concoctions out of toothpaste and liquid soap in his bathroom sink. In high school, a teacher ignited his deep curiosity for science, which led him to pursue a chemistry degree at FIU. 

In his sophomore year, things changed. Daniel’s father suddenly moved out of the country and stopped supporting him, his sister Christina, and their sick mother, Mercy. They lived for months without water or power. Faced with eviction, they took shelter in a cramped 2009 Honda Civic and lived there for four months. Daniel was told to contact the university’s Counseling and Psychological Services office, which connected him with Fostering Panther Pride – a program that helps students who are homeless or transitioning out of foster care to continue their education.

Soon, Daniel and Christina had tuition waivers to cover the cost of classes and funding to live on campus. After living in a car for so long, Daniel says the first night sleeping in a bed, freshly showered and no longer hungry was transformational.

He worked with chemistry professor Sonia Underwood, conducting research to understand how students learn in STEM courses, and taught chemistry labs at FIU. He received the Global Learning Medallion, studied abroad in Japan and received certifications in Japanese and teaching English.

After commencement, Daniel plans to pursue a master’s degree in education and teach English in Japan.

By Chrystian Tejedor, Account Manager
College of Arts, Sciences & Education