Esther Fineus Joseph

Commencement: Fall 2014, Ceremony 2

Degree: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, specialization in Mathematics Education

Graduate of: College of Education

When Esther Fineus Joseph graduates for the second time from FIU, she’ll be making family history – again. The former high school mathematics teacher, already the first in her Haitian immigrant family to pursue higher education, will also fulfill a lifelong dream of earning a doctorate degree.

The journey, however, wasn’t easy. Esther grew up in a tough neighborhood in West Palm Beach and began working at the age of 16 to help fund her education. No stranger to hard work, Esther made education her main focus in life, graduating ninth in her high school class and working multiple jobs to help pay for undergraduate tuition. While teaching mathematics at North Miami Beach Senior High, she earned a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction from FIU in 2011.

Through it all, Esther wanted to make her parents proud. She was named a Dolores Auzenne Fellow, was the recipient of the Robert R. Bellamy scholarship and submitted the Best Student-Faculty paper at the Annual South Florida Education Research Conference.

Her dissertation focused on whether factors such as demographics, persistence and academic performance in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses are good predictors of the likelihood of someone becoming a math or science teacher.

Esther will continue working as the director of secondary education in FIU’s College of Arts and Sciences, where she hopes to inspire other students to pursue careers in education.