Professor Gives Back to Support First Generation Fellowships, Fostering Panther Pride | FIU News

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As Panther, a professor of criminology and a lifelong learner, Rosa Chang ’99, ’21 believes so much in the transformative power of education that she makes it part of her legacy.

By donating part of his estate – a significant donation to the FIU – Chang is ensuring that First Generation Scholarships and Fostering Panther Pride, a vital college access program for former adoptive youth and students in distress. homelessness, will remain strong.

“Programs like Fostering Panther Pride, which FIU started and other universities are now adopting, make me proud of our university,” Chang says, “because they uplift the whole community.”

Chang’s motivation to give back stems from her time as an undergraduate student at FIU when she was admitted to the university as a Golden Scholar. His path to Miami had already been complicated. Before he was born, his parents fled the conflict in China to face another deterioration in the situation in Venezuela years later. Recognizing the signs of trouble, they sent Chang and her older sisters to the United States ahead of them.

With very little time to understand the implications of what was happening, Chang was suddenly a 10th grader in Miami, without her parents, speaking and learning in a language she didn’t know well. The first did not stop there. At FIU, she became a first-generation student, a journey that eventually led her to work as a juvenile justice specialist and then to the University of Miami, where she became the first in her family to graduate. a Ph.D. From there, eventually, she returned to FIU as a teacher.

Professor Chang with her parents after winning the 2020 FIU Faculty Award for Teaching.

But none of the alumni’s successes would have been possible without the help she received at CRF as a Golden Scholar. An access program designed to prepare first-generation students, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds, the Golden Scholars not only helped Chang improve her English skills, but also connected her with services of the faculty and the university.

As a student, Chang was so focused on the day-to-day concerns of her studies and an active social life that she didn’t think about the finer details of these access programs. What was important was that the help allowed her to explore and learn. But, one-on-one with first-generation students like her, the true impact of the help she received became evident.

“FIU recognized the potential in me,” she recalls. “I met people like me and we grew together.”

Chang’s journey to becoming a teacher began when her curiosity about the origins of crime drove her to further her education. Her mentors challenged her to apply her real-world experience to the classroom. Since then, Chang has never stopped learning. She is also enrolled in creative writing seminars and seeks every opportunity to expand her understanding. In December 2021, she obtained another bachelor’s degree; this time in French and Francophone studies.

“I see my job as a lifelong learning journey,” she says. “That’s what I love most about being a teacher.”

As a teacher, Chang wants his students to continue to develop their own learning path. That’s why, as her family and sisters have become stable, Chang decided the time was right for her to pour the support she received into future generations of Panthers who may need financial or educative.

“It’s a time for them to explore — to change majors, to be exposed to different careers, to change majors again — that’s how they really get that depth of knowledge,” she says. . “Being a student is such a life experience.”

Chang hopes her donation will equip first-generation students like her with both knowledge and resilience so they’re ready to take on challenges both inside and outside of the university. academy.

“By directly helping these students,” says Chang, “FIU motivates me to give back because I want to see these programs continue and become self-sustaining so they can help even more students.”


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