Oliver Stensby

Degree: Bachelor of Science, Hospitality Management

College/School: Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management

Oliver Stensby should have walked across the commencement stage two and a half years ago. On pace to graduate in December of 2012, the hospitality major suffered two crushing blows in fast succession. In 2011 he watched his beloved mother, Johanne, succumb to cancer. As regularly cooking together had deepened their already very close mother-and-son bond, Oliver took to proudly recreating her international recipes as a way to help his dad and three siblings cope with her loss and to share with others his mom’s signature dishes.

In the midst of his grief, Oliver faced another challenge: the onset of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare, debilitating condition that appeared with no warning and left him completely paralyzed and in the hospital for a full year. Undergoing many months of grueling physical therapy and in tremendous pain, he eventually relearned how to do everything from walking and feeding himself to driving a car. His mental function fully in tact, he, with great determination, fought his way back into the classroom, pushing himself with the support of professors Diann Newman and Michael Moran, without whose help Oliver says he could not have graduated.

Oliver is currently considering graduate school at FIU and also thinking about applying to law school next year.