Alumni News

Check the FIU News article: FIU Torch Awards


The Florida International University Alumni Association recognized notable alumni and influential members of the university community during the 13th Annual Torch Awards Gala that took place on March 8, 2014 at the JW Marriott Marquis. The Torch Awards represent the highest honor conferred by FIU to a graduate. The recipients serve as “torchbearers” or leaders who exemplify the best of the university and serve as an inspiration to all. This year’s awardee for the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work was Timothy E.D. McLaughlin-Munroe, who graduated in 2002 with an MPH in Epidemiology. Mr. McLaughlin-Munroe is a Public Health Surveillance Officer and Deputy National Epidemiologist for the Public Health Department-Health Services Authority in the Cayman Islands.

Timothy McLaughlin-Munroe has dedicated his adult working life to the people of the Cayman Islands, serving as an emergency medical technician for 10 years and as the Public Health Surveillance Officer/Deputy National Epidemiologist for the past 13 ½ years at the Public Health Department. Timothy’s primary responsibility is to monitor all communicable diseases circulating in the Cayman Islands and make recommendations as to how best to prevent, eradicate or control these diseases. In 2006, he was recognized as a top epidemiologist with the “Caribbean Award for Excellence in Disease Surveillance.” He also serves in the district of North Side as an ordained elder at the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and enjoys teaching young people life skills such as CPR, first aid, basic rescue, and camping skills. Of all his accomplishments, his most favorite is his family. He is married to Dayra Triana-Munroe. They have two children, 16-year-old Timothy Jr. and 10-year-old Darya.


Amy Kennedy successfully defended her dissertation and finished the requirements for Ph.D. degree in public health with a concentration in EOH.

amykennedyFor her doctoral dissertation, titled “Genetic Markers, Birth Characteristics and Childhood Leukemia Risk,” Dr. Kennedy investigated correlations among genetic polymorphisms, birth characteristics, and the risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. During her doctoral studies, she presented her work at the University of Alabama of Birmingham Postdoctoral Prep conference and was the recipient of the Doctoral Evidence Acquisition Fellowship at Florida International University (FIU). Prior to her Ph.D., Dr. Kennedy received her M.P.H. from FIU’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health. She completed her Master’s Supervised Field Experience at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, where her project focused on the effects of the built environment on children’s health and safety. This project included a program proposal to decrease pedestrian injuries and childhood obesity by promoting walking to and from school.

Dr. Kennedy is currently a Cancer Research Training Award (CRTA) Fellow working with the Cohort and Consortia Team in the Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program’s (EGRP) Office of the Associate Director. Her responsibilities include assisting in managing national and international cancer epidemiology cohorts and consortia, supporting the Genetic Associations and Mechanisms in Oncology (GAME-ON) initiative, as well as analyzing data and preparing manuscripts.


Kennedy AE, Singh S, Dorak MT.Re: Genome-Wide Association Study of Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma and Epstein–Barr Virus Status–Defined Subgroups. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2012 Jun 6; 104(11): 884-885.

Felty Q, Yoo C, Kennedy A.Gene expression profile of endothelial cells exposed to estrogenic environmental compounds: implications to pulmonary vascular lesions. Life Sci. 2010 Jun 19; 86(25-26): 919-927.

Hotz G, Kennedy A, Lutfi K, Cohn SM.Preventing pediatric pedestrian injuries. J Trauma. 2009 May; 66(5): 1492-1499.


Elena Cyrus defended her dissertation entitled “Social Capital, HIV Risk Behavior and Substance Use among Recent Latino Immigrants in South Florida” successfully and finished the requirements for Ph.D. degree in public health with a concentration in Epidemiology.

elenacyrusElena graduated in Fall 2013 and was one of a few graduate students recognized during Commencement as a “Worlds Ahead Graduate” by FIU President Rosenberg. Five years ago, after a divorce, Elena found herself having to adjust to life as an unemployed single parent struggling to provide for her daughter. She returned to school after a seven-year absence to pursue a doctorate in epidemiology and restart her career in public health. Despite many obstacles, including juggling her personal life with the demands of the Ph.D. program and financial hardship, Elena graduated and, under the mentorship of Professor Mary Jo Trepka, she co-authored and published three articles; presented at scientific conferences; and was accepted at the NIH-funded Center for Research on U.S. Latino HIV/AIDS and Drug Abuse (CRUSADA) at FIU as a student trainee. After graduation Elena joined Yale University’s Global Health Equity Scholars program for a two-year Fogarty/NIH-funded post-doctoral training program in Global Health in Lima, Peru. Read her full story, under Ceremony 4.


Nana Aisha Garba, EOH Ph.D. graduate was hired by the FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine as an Assistant Professor and the Assistant Community Director.


Praveena Harnarine, summer 2012 graduate, was selected as the October 2013 Employee of the Month for the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County.

Praveena was in the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) area and conducted her practicum with the Office of HIV/AIDS for the Health Dept. After staying on as a volunteer after completing her practicum, she was hired a few months later as the Take Control Coordinator. Praveena was a recipient of a stipend during Summer 2012 from the Puerto Rico-Florida Public Health Training Center for conducting her practicum at a County Health Department. Her practicum project involved the planning and execution of HIV/AIDS awareness, testing, and education through Take Control community events and the CDC’s Enhanced Comprehensive HIV Prevention Plan (ECHPP).


This year, FIU inaugurated a Panther Alumni Week (PAW).

PAW is an alumni week of service during which alumni are invited to return as guest speakers to inspire our students at the start of their academic career. Guest speakers will have the chance to visit our vibrant campuses, experience today’s FIU and reinvigorate their Panther spirit. This is also the perfect opportunity to visit a former professor or inspirational mentor. During that week, the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work hold a panel, “Beyond the Degree – Network Matters,” gathering the following alums:

  • Kesia Vazquez (MSW’11), Director of ACCESS Services at Miami Dade College, North Campus
  • Jennifer Hinners (MPH-EPI’11), Consultant
  • Rebecca Karousatos, MS, RD, LDN (MS’89), Medical Nutrition Therapist
  • Beth Davalos (MSW’94), Coordinator of the Families in Transition Program, Seminole County Public Schools
  • Trevor Coke (MPH-EOH’01), Environmental Supervisor II, State of Florida Department of Health, Miami Dade County Health Department, Health and Engineering Division
  • Williams G. Brookman, CEHP, HHS (MPH-EOH’02), Environmental Specialist III / Facilities Program Manager / EH Supervisor, Florida Department of Health




Author: Cecile Houry

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