Degrees: Bachelor of Science in Social Work & Bachelor of Arts in Music
Colleges/Schools: Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts
At just nine months, Fabian Carrera contracted a severe case of polio in Ecuador, which left him paralyzed from the neck down. He spent the next five years in an iron lung, a breathing device also known as a tank respirator.
After regaining movement in his upper body, Fabian transitioned into leg braces. Unfortunately, he was forced to attend a school for cognitively disabled children, leaving his parents to argue Ecuadorean law so he could attend an ordinary elementary school.
His family did not have transportation or a wheelchair, so Fabian’s father carried him six miles to and from school every day. He couldn’t walk down the stairs for recess, so he spent it inside alone. At home, he learned how to play traditional folk music on the guitar. He later earned a degree from a music conservatory and obtained a license to teach English as a second language from Quito’s Catholic University.
In 2002, Fabian moved to the U.S. and discovered his schooling was not accredited. At 37 years old, he had to start over. He graduated from Miami Dade College in 2013, and, with the help of scholarships, transferred to FIU, where he majored in social work and music with a minor in psychology.
A first-generation university graduate, Fabian volunteers at local hospices, shelters for the homeless and clinics, where he uses his musicianship to help veterans suffering from PTSD. After graduation, he will attend University of Southern California for a master’s degree in social work. He hopes to become a clinical social worker and music therapist to support trauma victims and individuals with disabilities.
By Galena Mosovich
Account Manager, Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work