Volume I, Issue 1           Monday, August 4th, 2003           Florida State University - Panama Student E-Zine

A Conversation with Mr. Mario Mezquita,
Academic Counselor, FSU-Panama

By Eloy A. Benedetti

Eloy: What college or university did you graduate from, and in what year?

Mario: I graduated from Florida International University, in 1997.

Eloy: What is your degree in?

Mario: I completed a double major in International Relations and Psychology.

Eloy: Have you always been a counselor?

Mario: No, this is actually the first time that I’ve worked as a counselor

Eloy: What made you decide to become one?

Mario: Well, I think my experience at Florida International played a big part in this. While studying there I often sought the advice of an academic counselor. Through this, I learned the important role a counselor can play in the development of a student. It’s a big responsibility, one that I take seriously. Today, because I attended a state university, I find that my own experiences have been extremely valuable in helping me advise students who are making the transition from the Latin American educational system to the U.S. one.

Eloy: So, is that why you chose to work at FSU-Panama?

Mario: No. I was very lucky—FSU-Panama chose me. I applied for the position when it became available, went through the interview process, and was selected. I must have done something right!

Eloy: In what year, then, did you arrive at FSU-Panama?

Mario: I actually started working here toward the end of 2000.

Eloy: Is there something you would change about the FSU-Panama campus?

Mario: No, to be honest. This is a new campus, so we’re actually all part of a growing experience. I think that entails that things will always be changing, little by little. Everything we change will be a direct result of the growth that’s happening at FSU-Panama.

Eloy: What are your hopes for the future of FSU-Panama?

Mario: I hope that we grow every year; I hope that we have more students enroll here, both from Panama as well as from other Latin American countries. I also hope that FSU-Panama can soon begin to offer more majors. The University already is a wonderful place, and I believe that before long everyone will recognize our uniqueness—not only in Panama, but also throughout all of Latin America.

Eloy: Can you share with Panaboarders an anecdote from your time here in FSU-Panama?

Mario: That’s kind of a tough question, Eloy! I think I’ve sort of seen it all in the 2 ½ years that I’ve been here. Nevertheless, I shouldn’t say that because I know that every year something new happens. I’ve witnessed two graduations, and I think that is probably the best experience I’ve had here. It was really heartwarming to see two graduating classes of young students who had the confidence in FSU-Panama to complete their studies here. It was exciting to see them walk up on stage as high-ranking representatives from the main campus in Tallahassee and the Vice-President of the Republic conferred the degrees upon them. The graduation ceremony was very small. As a consequence, everyone knew everyone. I think that’s oneof the things I like most about FSU-Panama: this place is so intimate that when you graduate everyone is a part of the celebration. Everyone knows the graduates, just not only as friends, but as family members as well!

Eloy: Do you have any parting advice you would like to give the students of FSU-Panama?

Mario: Yes. Follow your heart; never let anyone tell you that something you really want to achieve in life can’t be done. I think that’s about the best advice I can give students. I believe that if you feel strongly about accomplishing something, and you are willing to make the sacrifices, you can succeed—no matter who tells you otherwise.

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