University sorority alumna blends teaching and politics in career

Joshua Ceballos/Assistant News Director

Photo courtesy of Michelle Palacio.

Michelle Palacio has worked for FIU for 13 years as the vice president of Governmental Relations, but her involvement here stretches long before her career.

Palacio attended FIU as a student and graduated in 2003, although she didn’t always want to stay in South Florida for schooling.

“I wanted to leave. I was admitted to multiple schools, but my mom encouraged me to stay in Miami. Now looking back, it was the best decision I ever made other than marrying my husband,” Palacio said in an email to Student Media.

When she arrived at FIU, Palacio said she did not know what she wanted to do. She had various interests in her studies, including political science, though she eventually settled on education.

Palacio said she had a drive toward leadership for a while, assuming leadership positions in her sorority Phi Sigma Sigma, and she aspired to one day be on the school board.

The change in career path came when she was exposed to local politics in 2002, according to Palacio.

“I always worked while attending FIU. I also started volunteering for political campaigns during my freshman year,” said Palacio. “The first job I had that changed my career path was as a legislative aide for U.S. Senator Marco Rubio when he was Majority Leader of the Florida House of Representatives in 2002.”

It was fortunate for her, she said, that when she began working for her alma mater in the governmental relations office, she was able to blend both of her passions: education and politics.

To students who, like her, are a bit lost as to what to do with their lives and could use some direction, Palacio had some advice.

“Be curious about what types of careers are out there. Do your research. Speak to people in multiple fields. Growing up, I only knew about the professions we see around us every day such as teachers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, police officers, business owners, etc,” said Palacio. “I didn’t realize there was a whole world full of great jobs that you normally don’t find out about until it’s too late. The sooner you do this, the better it is, so you don’t have to waste time and money changing majors.”

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