Amarish Mena

Degree: Master in Disaster Management

College/School: Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work

Amarish Mena’s journey demonstrates to all who know her the value of dedication, perseverance and commitment to higher education.

Amarish always wanted to be a doctor, but at 15, her world was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with lupus. After missing a lot of school and focusing on her health, she thought that pursuing a medical career might not be for her. She changed paths and graduated with a bachelor’s in public administration from FIU in 2015.

However, the desire for a medical career lingered on.

Amarish decided to get back on track toward a medical degree. She learned about the FIU-FAST team, a volunteer team of highly trained and experienced disaster medical professionals and Amarish determined she would explore the emergency response side of medicine, through a master’s degree.

In January 2019, her health took a turn for the worse, leading to kidney failure. But her dedication to her studies was hard to contain – even after a one-month hospital stay and doctor’s orders to not return to class because of her weakened immune system. Amarish credits the support of Ruben Almaguer, executive director for the Academy for International Disaster Preparedness, and Dulce Boza, assistant director for the academy, in helping her complete her courses and graduate on time – with a 3.6 GPA.

Now, as Amarish awaits a much-needed kidney transplant, she continues to study and prepare for the MCAT in 2020 – the first step toward applying for medical school.

By Jessica S. Drouet
Senior Account Manager
Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work