Maria Berry

Commencement: Fall 2014, Ceremony 5

Degree: Online Master of Science in Human Resources Management

Graduate of: College of Business

Giving up is not an option for Maria Berry. Despite a serious illness and the 1,200-mile distance between Miami and Panama, she is graduating from the Online Master of Science in Human Resources Management at the top of her class.

Maria started the year-long program in spring 2013, becoming part of the online program’s second cohort. Midway through the course she was forced to take a medical leave to recuperate from surgery and exhausting follow-up treatments. Maria learned that taking a break from school for her body to repair itself was not equivalent to forfeiting her goal.

Through bad days and good days, Maria remained positive and two years later is achieving that goal. She will not attend the graduation ceremony in Miami, but will be present with the help of technology.

Although it is more convenient for many professionals looking to return to school, an online degree is no less taxing. Maria, 44, is proof of the determination and discipline that FIU’s online program requires, rising above numerous challenges.

She recalls that in many ways the online course was more effective than a face-to-face classroom setting because participants were responsible and dedicated about the course load and team assignments. It also allowed them “to be ourselves,” letting their management and training skills shine through.

Maria also holds an MBA from FIU, obtained in 2012 upon completing the 18-month Professional MBA program in partnership with Panama’s private Quality Leadership University. She is planning for a successful career in management, be it in private enterprise or with the federal government and will apply for the Presidential Management Fellowship. She also would like to teach.