Degree: Master of Architecture
College: College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts
When Fernando was born in Guatemala, he was diagnosed with Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), a very rare bone disorder that causes soft and fragile bones and deformities, among other issues. As a result, Fernando has to use a wheelchair.
At eight months, he and his family moved from Guatemala to West Palm Beach, where he continued his schooling and tried to live his life unhinged from OI.
After taking an architecture elective at his arts high school, Fernando decided that the FIU School of Architecture was the right fit for him based on the program and closeness to his home. He majored in Architecture and is now receiving his masters through the accelerated degree program.
Fernando was determined not to allow his physical challenges to stop him from succeeding academically, choosing not to ask for special accommodation inside or outside of the classroom. He became an advocate for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance in building designs –and challenged skewed preconceptions on disability access –among his architecture peers during studio times. He also educated faculty members on ADA compliance as they reviewed his work. During his final year, he became an Asset Developer and Research Assistant in the school’s Robotics and Digital Fabrication (RDF) Lab where he learned to utilize state-of-the-art robotic arms, 3D scanners, laser cutters, programmable objects, and 3D printers to complete projects and address issues through physical and virtual spaces.
After graduation, Fernando plans to move to Miami permanently, as he has already received a job opportunity with globally renowned design firm, HKS. He credits his family for all their continued support as he moves along in his career.
By Zion Sealy
Junior Account Manager
College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts