Maydel Santana

Degree: Master of Science in Marketing

College/School: College of Business

When Maydel Santana was 11, her parents made the fateful decision to leave Cuba with their two children, seeking a better life in the United States. It was 1980 and the Santanas were among 125,000 Cubans who made it to the U.S. during the exodus known as the Mariel boatlift. It was a grueling ordeal, capped by a voyage to Key West in bad weather, aboard an over-capacity shrimping boat.

Maydel eventually enrolled at FIU, studied journalism and served as founding managing editor of The Beacon, the university newspaper. She graduated and worked as a reporter for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

In 1995 she returned to FIU to work in the Office of Media Relations where she rose to the position of director. In that role, Maydel leads the university's efforts to tell the FIU story in external media, including newspapers, broadcast and online outlets. Under her leadership, stories about FIU have reached millions of people around the globe and resulted in exposure worth millions of dollars.

Earlier this year, Maydel, who is mother to a teenage daughter, went back into the classroom as part of the inaugural class of the Master of Science in Marketing. This is an accelerated 10-month program specializing in digital marketing, brand development and marketing analytics. After graduation, Maydel plans to use the tools and skills she learned in this innovative program to augment her efforts to tell the FIU story on the national and international stage.