Meet Arman Aru ‘09 and Suzanna Aru ’10, MBA ‘16, two successful FIU business graduates who found more than just a great education at FIU – they found each other. A serendipitous classroom encounter brought the pair together during their freshman year, and soon after, they became inseparable. Together, Arman and Suzanna worked their way through school, accomplishing goals, overcoming challenges and paving the way for a bright future.
Arman and Suzanna found time to catch up with us to share their experiences at FIU and tell us more about the beautiful life they’ve built together. The following Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.
In what year did you graduate from FIU and what was your major/degree?
Arman: I graduated with a B.B.A. in Finance in 2009.
Suzanna: I graduated with a B.B.A. in Finance and International Business in 2010.
I graduated again in 2016 with an M.B.A.
Tell us about your years as an FIU student. What were your goals?
Arman: During my freshman year, I moved in with my sister down the street from campus so I could get a sense of independence. I wanted to graduate in exactly 4 years, come out of school with a solid career path in place and be independent of my parents.
Suzanna: I lived in Miami Lakes and commuted to FIU almost every day. I loved being on the main campus and joined activities between classes or went to the gym. My goals were to graduate with a double major and find a good-paying career.
Has FIU supported you in meeting your career goals? If so, how?
Suzanna: FIU shaped me into the successful businesswoman I am today. Four years as an undergraduate and a year and a half in graduate school were no joke! Over the years, I have been able to apply all my hard work – as well as the lessons and creative solutions shared by my professors – to achieve and maximize my company’s sales goals.
Tell us a little about your career journey and how you ended up where you are today.
Arman: After graduating, I began my career in operations. I was responsible for the day-to-day business and logistics of a freight and brokerage business in Doral. After a few years, I decided to pursue a different path within the insurance industry. I joined a family-owned insurance agency and learned much of what I know now during my years there. To begin 2017, I decided to join HUB International, one of the largest brokers in the world, as a Commercial Insurance Advisor.
Suzanna: As an undergrad, I joined Aalborg Industries, a global marine manufacturing company. I was a receptionist and office assistant. Working full-time and attending school full-time was extremely challenging, but I saw potential for growth and stuck it out. Then, a little less than a year in at Aalborg Industries (and overqualified for the receptionist position), I saw an opening in the Parts Department for a Sales Engineer. That same day, I walked into my boss’s office and asked for the opportunity. I told my boss that I would soon be graduating with a B.B.A. and felt I could succeed in the role. After interviewing a few other potential candidates, they offered me the position!
Soon after accepting that role, our Sales Manager left the department, putting us in a tough situation. My education and strong work ethic kicked in, and I began putting in longer hours and taking on the manager’s responsibilities in addition to my own. After nine months of tests and challenges, the company determined I was capable of taking on the role of manager at age 23, and offered me the opportunity. Seven years later, I am thriving as the Spare Parts Manager and have grown the department from $1 million to $3.9 million in sales.
How did you meet? I hear you two have quite the cute FIU love story!
Arman: We met our first semester of college in the summer of 2005, ENC 1101. Mrs. Alonso, our professor, put us in groups and said we may meet the person we will marry there. Well, she was right! Suzy had a cast on her leg and had just spilled coffee all over herself, so how could I resist? Even though we were both in relationships at the time, we stayed in touch and within a couple months, we ended up together.
Suzanna: We met during our first semester in Professor Alonso’s ENC 1101 class in summer 2005. I will never forget that the day I spilled coffee all over my shirt and pants was the same day the professor decided to put us into new writing groups. My introduction to Arman and the rest of the group was, “Hi, I’m Suzy and I just spilled my Starbucks coffee all over me.” Of course, everyone chuckled, including Arman. Little did I know that Professor Alonso’s comment to the class before she put us in groups – that we might meet the person we will marry in our group – was going to be our fate! The following semester, we were both newly single. We have been together for 12 years now.
So far, what accomplishments are you most proud of and why?
1. Graduating from FIU. My mother went to FIU and so did my sister. I wanted to keep that tradition going.
2. Purchasing multiple homes. We had to fight banks for the loans, but we would not accept no for an answer.
3. Marrying Suzy. I could not have picked a better partner to go through life with. She is there for the good and definitely there for the not so great.
4. Having children. Nothing makes me feel more accomplished than watching my son grow up.
1. My B.B.A and M.B.A from FIU, because my mom had me at 16 years old and always worked so hard to make sure I had better opportunities than she did. For me, walking across the stage for those two degrees showed my mom that her hard work to raise me right did not go unnoticed or unappreciated.
2. Purchasing our two homes. Arman and I stayed in a lot during our junior and senior years to save money to purchase our first home. Making that sacrifice made us stronger as a couple and the accomplishment was that much more special.
3. Marrying my college sweetheart! We have put in hard work together and he has been the best partner. I enjoy sharing life with him.
4. My children. Being a mom is an amazing journey, and I hope that one of our children will follow our lead and choose FIU when the time comes.
As alumni, how are you staying connected to FIU and why do you think this is a valuable connection to maintain?
Arman: I participated in my first Panther Alumni Week (PAW) events this year. I am on the Board for Broward Alumni Networking. I take pride in my community and in the successes of my FIU family. I would like to mentor recent and soon-to-be-graduates through events like PAW, and I prefer to do business with fellow Panthers.
Suzanna: I hold season tickets for FIU Football, I am a Forever Panther and I attend local FIU events. Being part of FIU over the past decade has been great; it feels like being part of a big extended family. Witnessing and contributing to the evolution of such a large university is a huge perk, and not many other university students can say they played a role in shaping their school.
Do you have family members who have been previously or are currently enrolled at FIU?
Arman: Both my mother and sister are alumnae and my brother-in-law currently attends. He is doing great.
Suzanna: My little brother currently attends FIU, and I am so proud of him!
Any advice for students looking to get the most out of their time at FIU, both professionally and personally?
Arman: Network with everyone because you never know where opportunities will arise! A diploma is only part of the equation. I say it constantly and will repeat it until I am blue in the face, “Your Network is Your Net Worth.”
Suzanna: As a student, I did not take advantage of networking opportunities or join groups on campus. I suggest meeting people and joining groups affiliated with the university. Networking builds a strong foundation for your future endeavors.
Arman’s final words to students and young alumni: “While college is challenging and can be stressful, I recommend you focus on this life lesson: Enjoy the Journey, Not Just the Destination!”