Guethshina Altena

Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts

College/School: College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts

On January 12, 2010, Guethshina Altena was wrapping up her day at school in Haiti. Unexpectedly, a catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked the Port-au-Prince area, wreaking havoc and claiming thousands of lives. Sadly, Guethshina lost her mother that day. In the tragedy’s wake, Guethshina’s father moved with his five daughters to the United States for a better life.

While a devastating loss, nevertheless Guethshina persevered. A 14-year-old recent immigrant, in 2013 Guethshina was admitted into 11th grade at Olympic Heights High School in Boca Raton. She struggled to learn English yet aced her classes. She sought tutoring and later became a Character Counts honoree, recognized among students who best exemplify the Palm Beach County School District's six character pillars: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, caring, fairness and citizenship. Guethshina worked hard, took Honors and AP classes, and earned her high school diploma. 

At age 16, Guethshina enrolled at FIU. Among many scholarships and achievements, Guethshina rose to the position of president of the Haitian Student Organization (HSO). She led and participated in community efforts that included a service learning trip to the Dominican Republic with Global Community Engagement, and organized a donation drive for her native Haiti after Hurricane Matthew hit in 2016. In addition, every year, during the HSO’s commemoration ceremony for victims of the 2010 earthquake, Guethshina shares her survival story. 

The first in her family to earn a university degree, Guethshina is currently interning at TracFone Wireless as a corporate communication intern and hopes to be hired full-time after graduation.

By: Juliette Saint Louis, Academic Advisor II and Sarah Hernandez, Junior Account Manager
College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts