FGCU 20th AnniversaryFGCU360 Magazine

Twenty Years of Alumni Memories

As we celebrate Florida Gulf Coast University’s 20th anniversary in 2017, we thought it would be a fitting tribute to invite alumni to share some of their favorite FGCU memories. From Paul Allen’s 1997 first foray into the “palm-frond swamp” and “huge stand of cypress trees” while yielding to a “family of a dozen or so pigs to cross the road” on his journey to a 1998 Business degree, to “non-traditional” student Jamie Lienhardt-Engle’s gratitude for never being made to “feel like the older student in class (even though I was)” when she took her husband’s push for encouragement to earn a Communication degree in 2017, there are several short stories of how The FGCU Effect inspired these graduates who now inspire others in all walks of life. Some chose to thank faculty, friends and staff members who made a difference. FGCU360 Magazine extends a special thanks to Kimberly Wallace, FGCU director of alumni relations, who spread the word among FGCU’s almost 26,000 alums to help this feature happen.


1998

Paul Allen, Business

I was taking business courses at the University of North Florida, and I heard about FGCU coming when I moved down in 1995 and started taking classes at the Edison campus of University of South Florida.  It was such a small group of faculty, staff and students that I became close with many of them. In particular, I developed a great relationship with my business adviser, Carol Burnett. She set up each of my semester schedules, and had me all set to go for my first semester at FGCU in the fall of 1997.  I remember asking her if I needed to apply to the school and she said, “No, just show up for your first class.”

Paul Allen - 1998So now it’s Aug. 20-something and I’m getting off Interstate 75 at this Corkscrew exit, and there is like NOTHING. I drive a little bit and guess that I need to turn left on the first two-lane road (no iPhone GPS).  I drive FOREVER down this road in the middle of the palm-frond swamp, and I’m like “I know I must have missed it or made a wrong turn.”  So there’s a right turn, with I’m sure a sign (I don’t remember), and I’m headed down to a three-way stop with a huge stand of cypress trees, and no buildings in site. A long drive around a half-circle and there’s the little campus, all six buildings of it. Several times later, making that same drive, I had to wait for the family of a dozen or so pigs to cross the road. But I graduated in the Summer of ’98 as part of the first class, and even got a class ring with the No. 18 stamped inside of it (the first 100 offered were numbered)! I’ve been a diehard Eagle ever since.


1999

Karen Carmody, Educational Leadership

Karen Carmody - graduation 1999

My picture was featured on the front of the Fort Myers News-Press for an article about FGCU’s first graduation, which was held in the courtyard. I graduated in December 1999 with my M. Ed. in Educational Leadership.

Almost all of my classes were with Dr. Thomas Valesky and Dr. Cecil Carter. For our first few semesters, we took our classes at a middle school, because FGCU didn’t have any buildings yet. When I graduated, we had the one administration building, a classroom building, the student union and bookstore. Maybe there was another building, and the library was finished, too, or under construction, but there wasn’t much there. I remember being in the (student) union and the TV was on reporting the story of Columbine.

Since earning my master’s, I’ve gone on to become a Teacher of the Year, and played many roles in my school such as CRT and testing coordinator.  I am currently an assistant principal in Lake County and live in Clermont.


2000

David Vazquez, MBA

David Vazquez in 2000

I enrolled in the MBA program at FGCU about three years after I had started working at the institution. Therefore I was not your “traditional student,” but a working graduate student balancing a job, family life and pursuit of my degree. I had not planned to acquire an MBA, but a career in higher education and the opportunity to get a degree made it a foregone conclusion.

I found myself looking at FGCU in a completely different prism at night, when I took my classes, as compared to the daytime spent in my office. It was a unique experience to be in a meeting with a faculty member during the day, and then listening to a lecture that evening. Seeing it from both sides was rewarding and eye-opening.  As an employee, it gave me an appreciation for why I came to work.  I saw and experienced firsthand the results of everything that the faculty and staff work to accomplish. Essentially, I was receiving the benefits of all the hard work of my colleagues. From my perspective as a student, I was impressed by the energy and passion of this young institution, and the desire to help all students grow and learn. While no doubt that energy remains to this day, I felt like I was part of something unique being one of the earlier graduating classes from FGCU. I would be remiss without offering one specific memory from the classroom that I have not forgotten.

Dr. Karen Eastwood was one of my professors, and she gave an assignment that was meant for us to “stretch our comfort zones” by either attending or participating in an event that would fall outside our typical day and cultural norms. Given the premium of value of time at that point in my life, the assignment felt burdensome, and I doubted the educational value. I was completely wrong. Attending something where I was completely out of place, learning something I would not have otherwise known, and taking the time to reflect on it taught me something bigger than just another culture, it taught me something about myself. I learned many things in getting my MBA, but that memory stands out because it was so vivid and powerful. Go Eagles!


 2001

Kevin Gaffney, Accounting

(married to Amy Gaffney, 2002, Education)

2001-Kevin-and-Amy-Gaffney-290wWhen asked about my time at FGCU, it is not so much the time there, but the effect FGCU has had on my life after graduation. When I think back about FGCU, I think of pride and appreciation. Pride in myself for graduating while working full-time (as most of my fellow students did at that time), pride in fellow FGCU students and alumni who have worked for my company, pride in others who have graduated after me and have accomplished so much, and pride in the school for its continued growth and academic leadership in Southwest Florida.

I appreciate FGCU more than I can say in a few short sentences. I appreciate my time at FGCU for the academic challenges and professors who challenged me — from Dr. Christine Andrews (sorry I still stink at Microsoft Access); Dr. Carl Pacini, who I asked for advice when I had a chance to buy my business shortly after graduating in 2001; and Professor Deanna Burgess. I started my accounting practice eight months after graduating and married my wife, Amy almost a year after graduating. None of these things would have been possible without FGCU.


2002

Deanna Arnold, Management-Human Resources
When I attended FGCU, I went while working full-time and took mostly night classes because I was switching careers from accounting to human resources.  I was really trying to break into HR, which is difficult to do, but having the guidance and support from Jerry Schoenfeld is something that I will never forget.  I remember him taking so much time to help me by teaching me HR as well as giving guidance on how to “break into” the field with no experience. He provided invaluable advice and guidance that I am still grateful for.

After a successful career in corporate HR roles, I now own an HR firm in Charlotte, N.C., and try to give back as much as I can when people reach out to me asking for help breaking into HR, or looking for their next opportunity.


2003

Justin Emens, Finance

Justin Emens in 2003The FGCU experience was ultimately a unique one! Instead of carrying on tradition, we created it! I am proud to say that I was part of the first group to live on campus, participate in competitive sports (albeit on the club level) and cheer for FGCU in NCAA sports.  As president of the Wakeboard Club, I am sure I logged more hours on the lake than I ever did in the library and classroom combined.  I will never forget being handed a check from the University Foundation to purchase the school’s first boat.

The smaller class sizes and hands-on approach by professors created a terrific learning environment not afforded to underclassmen at larger universities. I can say that this model worked well for me as a student who was unsure of his direction coming out of high school.

Most unique to me are the memories of how small and undeveloped the campus was and how it changed over the course of my tenure. My roommate had two four-wheelers we kept on a trailer at North Lake. We would ride these through what is now Alico Arena and the baseball fields, Gulf Coast Town Center and Miromar Lakes.

I will go on record and say that when I first stepped on campus, I told my parents this university will be a special place and it’s not going to take long once the secret gets out. I am proud and happy to share my great experience with people I now meet at airports and cities outside of Southwest Florida that now know FGCU. The secret is out!


2004

Dyan Thompson, Business

(married to Anthony Thompson, 2004, Business)

2004-Dyan-and-Anthony-Thompson-200wI met my husband in my first class at FGCU in 2002. There were no dorms or fancy parking garages, just classrooms, a library and a very small room that was considered a cafeteria.  We loved attending FGCU as it felt like a big family that only wanted us students to succeed.  We both graduated with our B.S. in Business in December 2004. My husband also received his master’s degree from FGCU in Business. Our daughter is a sophomore at FGCU and our son will be attending next summer. To us, FGCU is a way of life and a university that we cherish. We have season tickets to the baseball and basketball games and recently moved to Miromar Lakes gated community to live closer to the college. We attribute our career success to the incredible education received at FGCU. Anthony is the assistant chief of police for Sanibel and I am a pharmaceutical sales representative for Novartis. We look forward to many exciting years of supporting FGCU and the Eagle Club. Once an Eagle, always an Eagle.


2005

Darrin Wallace, Liberal Studies

(married to Kim Wallace, ’09, Masters, Counseling)Darrin and Kim Wallace with family
FGCU gave me the opportunity to come home. I was playing basketball at Pfeiffer University when I received a phone call from Coach Dave Balza asking me to join him at FGCU. I jumped at the chance to play for a new program. I can remember walking into the newly constructed arena for the first time and thinking that this was a special place. I was right. I met some of my best friends on that team and even met my wife before our first game. I owe a lot to FGCU.


 2006

Susan Geoghegan, Criminal Justice

Susan Geoghegen in 2006On a warm Saturday in December 2006, I arrived at Florida Gulf Coast University, cap and gown in hand. All around me students were gathering in groups, some with family, some with classmates looking forward to graduating. Watching them, I felt a special kinship, even though I was 30 years their senior.

Two years earlier, I had registered as a “mature” returning student intent on earning a bachelor’s degree. It would mean juggling work, college and family, but fortunately most of my classes could be taken online. I could put my occasional insomnia to good use!  More than once, my husband caught me in the wee hours of the morning typing away on my computer.

Even so, those two years were challenging and I often questioned my sanity for taking on such a project. I was already well-established in my career, and had no intention of using my degree for advancement. It was just something I always wanted to accomplish.  When graduation day finally arrived, it was everything I had imagined! And though not planned, my degree ended up leading me to a second career as a freelance writer.

I am proud to be an alumnus of this great university and grateful for the opportunity it afforded me to reach a lifelong goal.

Crystal (Hendrickson) Daliya, Accounting

(also, Master’s, Accounting and Taxation 2010)

I was privileged to receive my B.S. in Accounting and M.S. in Accounting and Taxation from FGCU, followed by receiving my CPA license. Some of my favorite memories were trying to figure out Dr. Ara Volkan’s whiteboard formulas that spanned entire rooms, learning the art of fighting for a parking space university-style, and planning events for the Accounting Society.

I never wanted to be an accountant. I entered college to earn a CIS degree. My Accounting II professor, Ray Placid, was the person who spoke to me what I needed to hear for my career path, however. He shared with our class that having any other degree was not a bad thing, but to have the opportunity to be an entrepreneur and an integral part of any company required that one have an in-depth understanding of accounting.

With an entrepreneurial spirit and an organizational mind, I knew this was the path for me. After much prayer and consideration, I made the degree change and never looked back. I am grateful for the many additional amazing and influential people who poured into my life after Professor Placid, including (but not limited to) Dr. Christine Andrews, who encouraged me in my love of technology; Dr. Dee Burgess, who encouraged me to become a CPA; Dr. Jacqueline Conrecode, who taught me to never take life too seriously; and Dr. Ira Volkan, who encouraged my love of the language of numbers.

It is an honor to be an entrepreneur in Southwest Florida with my own firm, Crystal Daliya, PA, to be a member of the SWFL chapter of the FICPA, and to still be a very active volunteer in and member of the Southwest Florida community with my family.


2007

Todd Cofer, Political Science

(married to Aimee Cofer, 2008, Occupational Therapy)Todd and-Aimee Cofer with son Bayden

FGCU holds a special place in our hearts, as we first met as undergraduates on campus. Both of us were involved in Greek life, which added a “big college” experience to an otherwise small school.  When asked to recall some special moments of our time on campus, we have to mention the late night “flash card” sessions cramming for exams, the time MTV’s Campus Invasion Tour came to FGCU and the countless Greek socials on the weekends. Since graduating, we got married and have a son named Bayden.  After living in the Washington, D.C., area for several years, we moved back to Estero in 2014 to raise our family.


 2008

Jennifer (Roberts) Egbert, Criminal Justice

Jennifer EgbertI met my husband through my roommate at FGCU as a junior. Sarah’s brother served in the Navy with David (now my husband). Through attending Sarah’s family get-togethers, I got to know David. We didn’t click until I attended Sarah’s wedding with Danika, our other Oak 19 roommate. David was there alone and we ended up talking at the reception, and the rest was history. We went on our first date to Bonefish Grill and then walked Siesta Key beach. Our second date was a motorcycle ride to Fort DeSoto and our third date was horseback riding on the beach. He proposed while we were trail riding on horseback in November 2015 and we were married in May 2016. We have been married for a year already, and will be celebrating our four-year anniversary in August. We would have never met without my random room assignment to Oak 19, bedroom 1, and rooming with Sarah and Danika. We still keep in touch to this day.

The second profound memory that set a major chain of events into motion was my summer internship at the State Attorney’s Office (20th Judicial Circuit) prior to graduation. I absolutely loved the experience. I went from wanting to be a law enforcement officer to wanting to become an attorney. While my path may have taken me a little while to get into law school, I am proud to say that I will be graduating with my Juris Doctorate from WMU Cooley Law School in December 2017.


2009

Ryan King, MBA

(also Marketing in 2006)

Ryan KingBack in the early days of FGCU, the campus was much smaller. There were about 5,200 students on campus and at that point I felt like I knew most of them.  Campus life, when I wasn’t going to class, consisted of working in the Department of Academic and Event Technology, and playing Intramural flag football. Each one, in its own unique way, helped to shape me into who I am today.  My time in the Academic and Event Technology Department provided multiple opportunities to expand my leadership abilities, networking skills and people skills. My favorite part was working with the faculty on their classroom technology issues. This experience helped develop my troubleshooting skills, interpersonal skills and prioritization skills that I continue to use daily. Working there always made me feel like I was making a difference and that is the part of the job that I miss the most.

Intramural flag football was my favorite extracurricular activity even though we were not that good in the beginning. The ups and downs helped me to make a lot of friends, some of whom I still consider great friends today. The league became competitive and we eventually participated in National Flag Football Championship tournaments.  We didn’t win, but it was an experience I will never forget. FGCU has given me a great education, great friends, and a fantastic collegiate experience. It truly was the best time of my life.


2010

Chelsea Lyles, Communication
Chelsea Lyles
As I look back on my years at FGCU since 2008, I feel so honored and appreciative for having been chosen to be an Eagle. The academic experience stretched my intellectual capabilities, and playing for Coach Karl Smesko on the rising women’s basketball team was a lifetime athletic highlight. Coach, thank you for recruiting me, for making me work, and for guiding us to so many unforgettable wins together.

These days, however, when I move through my many FGCU memories, what I cherish most are not the victories on the court or the lessons in the classroom, but rather the love and affection that I now feel for my Eagle teammates, coaches and friends from this wonderful university. These lifelong friendships and relationships add an emotional richness and a motivation that give so much more meaning and joy to my life. Thank you to my teammates and especially my coaches, for your outstanding example and unconditional support to me.

Dunk City will always be home in the heart of this Eagle.


2011

Jessica Lennox, Communication
Jessica Lennox
I graduated in 2011 with my B.A. in Communication and immediately knew I wanted to come back and work for the university after grad school. I obtained my M.A. in Communication (at Marist College) and began working in the office of Undergraduate Admissions as an admissions counselor/recruiter at FGCU. I have been a faculty member for three years now and have transitioned into an academic adviser position, and I adjunct classes in the Communication department as well. I am working on my Ed.D in Educational Leadership through our College of Education and I could not be more proud and honored to work where I learn. The community is amazing, the environment is breathtaking and the sense of belonging just comes naturally. From faculty and staff, to students, to the resources offered: everyone is welcome and thought to be part of the community.

Being one of the newest universities in the state has so many benefits that prospective students and even staff should know about. Our buildings are state-of-the-art, residence halls are stunning, and labs and classrooms are top-notch. Our class sizes are small, so the ability to not only build but also maintain relationships with your instructors and classmates is very strong. We have more than 50 undergraduate degrees, 150 clubs and organizations and various outside recreational activities to enjoy; there truly is something for everyone. Being an Eagle is an awesome experience that we get to keep forever.


2012

Allison Gagliardi, Communication

Allison GagliardiMy FGCU story revolves around the Eagle News newsroom. As a freshman, I was assigned to write my first article about two new doctors at the Wellness Center. I scheduled the interviews and arrived early, where I proceeded to … throw up. I was that nervous. I called a good friend who gave me advice that I still think of before job interviews, tough client calls, and presentations: “Being nervous is a good thing, it means you’re growing.” I interviewed those doctors and continued on to write more articles than I can count as the leader of Eagle News. FGCU is where I started chasing my nerves and learned that I could always improve as long as I kept doing things that scared me.


Lauren Paxton, Criminal Justice

Lauren Paxton

(also M.S. Forensic Science, 2014)

By far, my most cherished moment as an Eagle was the night FGCU Basketball beat San Diego Sate to head to the Sweet 16! After beating SDSU, hundreds of students ran to the waterfront to celebrate for what felt like an eternity! FGCU felt invincible that night. That night will forever be one of my greatest memories.


2013

Lauren Schuetz, Communication

Lauren SchuetzWhen I think back on my time as a student at FGCU, what still astounds me is how much the University changed from when I started in 2008 to when I graduated in 2013. I still remember my first day at FGCU in August 2008. There were about 9,000 students, Everglades Hall had just opened as the first building in South Village and Lutgert Hall still smelled of fresh paint. By the time I graduated in 2013, there were about 13,000 fellow Eagles on campus, South Village had quadrupled in size, and everywhere I looked, there was a new building. The place I came to school in 2008 was certainly not the same place I was graduating from … and not just because our name changed to Dunk City.

What we have been able to build in just 20 years is nothing short of incredible. FGCU is an amazing place, but my favorite memories have nothing to do with the buildings on campus or the events that were planned; everything I love about FGCU is because of the people I have met here who have changed my life and the lives of those around them. I loved every second of going on Alternative Spring Break, taking a road trip to Dallas to watch our men’s basketball team play in the Sweet 16, and I will never forget my time as Student Body President. However, what I love even more is that the people I experienced all of my college memories with are still some of my very best friends and the most influential people in my life. What’s so special about FGCU is that it’s somewhere you can always come back to, and even though it might be twice the size it was when you went to school here – it still feels like home.


2014

James Stephens, Computer Information Systems

James Stephens

My time spent at Florida Gulf Coast University was nothing shy of amazing, filled with extraordinary experiences and opportunities to expand my technical and personal skills. I graduated FGCU in the Fall of 2014 with a B.S. in Computer Information Systems, a concentration in Computer Programming, and a double minor in Mathematics and Statistics. During my time here, I was afforded the opportunity to create meaningful and lasting relationships with peers and professors who have played a prominent role in developing my drive and need for success in everything I do.

As a freshman living in Biscayne Hall, I met one of my best friends, Jacob Schoonover. He cheered in high school and his mom enticed him with $100 to try out for the FGCU Cheerleading team, and so he did — successfully. I made fun of Jacob all freshman year for cheerleading … so who would have thought that starting out our sophomore year that I would walk on the team myself and pursue it for the next four years! Boy, oh boy, was that the start of an incredible journey. Cheerleading not only gave me a physical challenge, but it also cultivated friendships, families, and opportunities that I will never forget. One of my fondest memories at FGCU was getting to cheer courtside as our men’s basketball team stormed into the NCAA Tournament and progressed to the historic Sweet 16 as the first 15th-seed to ever make it — #DunkCity. The emotions were real, history was written, and I was left with nothing but amazing memories, pride, and love for FGCU.


2015

Bianca Ares, Communication

Bianca AresBeing an Eagle at FGCU was more than the simple focus of obtaining my degree. I discovered my authentic self. The bubble I felt secure in for all the preceding years of my academic career had been popped, and I was free. Free to make my own adult decisions, day in and day out. For instance, returning from an 8 a.m. class and taking a nap. This was “adulting.”

Becoming a Resident Assistant during my third year was the absolute greatest decision I made. It allowed my path to cross with a few beautiful souls. Women who would end up becoming the sisters I never had. Sure, the free housing was a perk, but the lifelong friendships that were being built was far superior. For the first time in my life, I understood the concept of a best friend. The memories will live on and continuously bring a smile to my face. Did I mention all the laughter and tears, too? Well, we have all graduated now. It has been a couple of years, yet the sisterhood remains. One of us is getting married this year. No, it is not me. As we continue to embark on the beautiful journey that is our lives, one thing will always be clear: Gratitude will forever be given to the Housing Department at FGCU for bringing us all together. Thank you, always.

Lisa Ray, Communication

Lisa RayAttending FGCU is one of the best decisions I’ve made, and I feel truly proud to be a Forever Eagle. While serving as the Student Government Senate President, I had the opportunity to attend FGCU Day at the Capitol in Tallahassee. I had the privilege of networking and sharing The FGCU Effect with state legislators and university administrators. Since then, I’ve attended twice to represent the Alumni Association.

During my undergraduate years, I was a university tour guide. My favorite tour-guide memory was leading a campus tour for students who attended a university in Japan. After the tour, the administrators from Japan wanted to arrange an exchange program between FGCU and their university. They sent pictures to us and shared how grateful they were for the tour and the time I spent with them. This opened my eyes and made me realize how I could make a positive impact on our campus.

I also made some of my favorite memories within FGCU Greek life. My all-time favorite was when my boyfriend surprised me with a lavalier of his fraternity letters at Disney World during our junior year of school. I kept this a secret from my Zeta Tau Alpha sisters until our chapter meeting. We did a candle pass ceremony and I surprised them and shared the story, and they were just as excited as I was. All my FGCU memories, experiences, mentors, and connections that I built helped me find my passion to work in higher education.


2016

Daniel Dines, Health Science

In high school, I applied to one school and only one school, and I studied an entire summer to get my SAT scores up to make that dream a reality. I first saw the campus online and then driving through it, but nothing compares to being there in person and really taking it all in; I knew this was where I wanted to be. The campus was and is simply spectacular with a perfect combination of nature’s natural colors and creativity combined with contemporary and sustainable architecture.

The people shocked me, how they could be so lighthearted, gracious, helpful, and really so much more. I was doing all the right things that year, enjoying the moment, meeting lifelong friends, eating healthier, having a pure blast literally running around the campus to play basketball, throw the football, jump rope, hit the gym, walk the hiking trails, and running/biking back from the courts to SoVi to eat everything that looked enticing, and then going to the movies in Gulf Coast Town Center, followed by walking up the stairs to Osprey Hall with my Achilles tendonitis. But I didn’t care, because I was the happiest I could ever be. I literally woke up most mornings feeling nothing but pure bliss and thankfulness (without any drugs, alcohol, or even coffee!). FGCU students live on a resort in true paradise. FGCU will always have a very special place in my heart. Wings up, Eagle for life, and thank you for everything.


Nina Schiffer, Marketing

Nina SchifferComing to the United States as an international student from Germany was completely overwhelming at first. Being integrated to the FGCU Swimming & Diving family quickly helped me to overcome culture shock and showed me the best of the American culture. Immediately having 30 incredible girls as hard-working teammates who quickly became friends, helped me regain the fun in swimming and striving for the greatest. Becoming conference runner-up in the 2013-14 season then really taught me what it meant to swim in a team, which is why I came to the States in the first place. Fighting to win our trophy back the year after made our team bond stronger than ever. It resulted in me ending my over-15-year-long swimming career with national and international success in the best possible context of a conference championship trophy, with the most amazing team around me with big smiles (OK, some tears were involved, but definitely only tears of joy!).

Working on finishing my degree aside from the student-athlete life introduced me only to more wonderful people in the library, classrooms, and the Center for Academic Achievement, many of whom I have already visited in Fort Myers, Chicago or Paris. Thank you, FGCU, for friends and memories that will last for a lifetime! Regards from Germany.

Ramon Seno Torres, Environmental Engineering

Ramon Seno TorresFlorida Gulf Coast University is such a wonderful university. The professors, staff, and students are extremely friendly and approachable when help is needed. There were many resources such as Supplemental Instructions known as SI for courses like Biology 1, Chemistry, Math and Psychology, Writing Center, Career Center, Adaptive Services, and tutoring lab. The professors are so friendly and they always do their best to be helpful. Sometimes they go beyond their job to help students.

The engineering school prepares students very well for the Fundamental of Engineering Exam or FE for Civil and Environmental. They provided a review session for all the parts of the FE. Service learning is a requirement for graduation, but sometimes it can be fun, like the Make a Difference Day event, like Beach Clean Up at Barefoot Beach, and Vester Marine Mangrove clean up.  Colloquium with Brenda Thomas was so fun, and we learned at the same time about Environmental Awareness and Environmental Geology, which was such a blast with Sasha Wohlpart. Biology with Professor Palmtag was fun and we learned valuable lessons, and Chemistry 1 and 2 with Dr. McManus was wonderful and understandable. Chemistry 2 lab with Dr. Ju Chou was cool and understandable. Dr. Brooks, who I had for Calculus 2 and Differential Equations, taught me valuable material and made me better in math. Dr. Menaka Navaratna is a wonderful and serious professor for Calculus 3. I also learned so much with him. In all the Engineering courses, all my professors were wonderful and helpful. They are hard and strict, but in a good way.

Campus housing is also another wonderful opportunity to meet people, especially freshmen. South Village in Biscayne Hall for First Year Residents was a blast. I got the opportunity to meet many wonderful people. North Lake Village is also convenient to campus as well. Shuttles are efficient going from housing to campus, and they have an app to track where they are, which is helpful. Housing provides activities for all residents such as cookouts, pizza night, and many events to get residents together and enjoy their time in college. Living in housing as a freshman not only let me meet people, but I felt like they were family. Even in engineering school, I felt like I was in a family. I also liked the fact FGCU is a growing school, environmentally friendly and with conservation areas. It is near many places such as the beaches, shopping and everything.  Overall, FGCU was a wonderful, memorable experience.


2017

Jamie Lienhardt-Engle, Communication

Jamie Lienhardt EngleMy life at Florida Gulf Coast University has been a wonderful adventure. I owe it all to my husband, Steve, who encouraged me to go back to college and finish my degree.

I am what is considered a “non-traditional” student because my course load consisted of one or two courses each semester and I continued to work full time as a real estate agent. Fortunately, FGCU offered multiple options for class times. My fellow students were very accepting of me. They never made me feel like the “older” student in class (even though I was) and when it came time for group projects, I was never excluded or the last one to be chosen. Many students have become my friends.

Graduation day was bittersweet. I enjoyed every course I took, every professor I had and all the students who worked with me and became friends. I know we will stay in touch. There’s no more studying in the library, late nights making Canvas deadlines, reading assignments or papers to write. I enjoyed student life on campus, learned more about social media and have increased my understanding of communication.

Professor Pamela Nulman inspired me and was my first professor for public relations courses. I thank her for sharing her first-hand knowledge with me. It made a lasting impression.