Vanessa Gilbert

Fall 2023 Outstanding Graduate

Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies

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

Committed to providing vital aid to those in need while pursuing her dream of securing a college education, Vanessa Gilbert exemplifies the personal spirit of making a difference.

Vanessa served in active military duty as a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps until two years ago. Over the past five years, she flew more than 1,300 hours as an ACS Plane Captain on a KC-130J cargo plane. During most of this time, Vanessa served on deployments and special missions, both within and outside the continental U.S., that aided Marine trainings and provided humanitarian services. She was involved in providing disaster aid to residents of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, delivering pallets of clean drinking water and other crucial supplies. She also helped create an ally group to help empower and mentor women in the Marines.

In 2021, having completed her active duty and with the goal of completing her bachelor’s degree, she returned to FIU full time. Jeanette Smith, assistant teaching professor of religious studies, observed that Vanessa possesses “a unique and reflective mindset and often presents perspectives that both differ from those of other students and allow classmates to broaden their own ideas. … She is kind and generous and would not hesitate to help someone in need.”

Now in the inactive reserves, Vanessa is prepared to serve again when needed and continues to mentor Marines, both in Corps and higher education matters. She plans to utilize her degree and military experience to work for the FBI.

By Todd Ellenberg
Assistant Director of Communications and Marketing
Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs