James Dean

Degree: Bachelor’s in Recreation and Sports Management

College/School: College of Arts, Sciences & Education School of Education

In 2000, shortly after graduating from high school, James Dean joined the United States Marine Corps Reserve.

During his time in the service, he fought in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom as a part of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. In honor of his outstanding service, James received various medals, including the Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom campaign medals and Combat Action Ribbon. His unit was also the first since Vietnam War to be awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance.

After returning home from Iraq in 2003, James was a changed man. Looking for a fresh start, he moved away from his home in Ocala, Florida to Miami. However, deeply affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the move proved difficult and after a few months he became homeless.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, James traveled to Louisiana as a volunteer to help with the recovery efforts. However, his appendix ruptured while there, which required multiple surgeries and months of bed rest.

Despite all obstacles, James enrolled at FIU. Initially, he studied construction management, but with the guidance of mentor Beverly Trott from the Disability Resource Center, he decided to pursue a field more closely aligned with his love of sports – recreation and sports management.

With his faithful service dog, Rango, by his side, James found the strength to overcome his academic obstacles and became an outstanding student.

After graduation, he plans to continue his studies in sports management and eventually pursue a doctorate degree.