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Each year, FIU welcomes hundreds of alumni back to campus for Panther Alumni Week, during the first week of February. In 2018, we will celebrate the fifth anniversary of this important program. In celebration of this anniversary, we have featured Tiffany Arango, an alumna who has truly made an impact on this program.

FIU Alumni Association: Tell us a little about yourself.

Tiffany Arango: My name is Tiffany Arango. I graduated from FIU (as Tiffany Kilby) with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, specifically focusing on applied behavior analysis. After graduating from Florida State University with a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis, I then became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). I primarily work with people with Autism and related diagnoses, due to being inspired by a family member on the Autism spectrum. Outside of work, I am obsessed with my four-legged children, Gizmo and Ginger. When I am not taking pictures of Gizmo or Ginger, I can be found crafting or binge-watching TV shows with my husband.

FAA: What is the top reason you participate in Panther Alumni Week?

TA: The main reason I participate in Panther Alumni Week (PAW) is to partake in the unique mentoring opportunities available to FIU alumni annually at PAW. Since I was in 1st grade, I’ve wanted to be a teacher. My current position as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) allows me to teach people in a one-on-one setting, while participating in PAW allows me to teach (and learn) different things than I do on a daily basis in a classroom audience of FIU freshmen.

FAA: What is the greatest personal or professional benefit of participating in Panther Alumni Week?

TA: I think the greatest benefit of participating in PAW, as cliché as it sounds, is giving back to the FIU community. I loved being an undergraduate student at FIU, and I love to see others enjoying that experience now. Participating in PAW allows me to meet other members of the FIU family, who I probably would not have met otherwise.

Each year, my PAW experiences have been different. Something I enjoy the most is participating in two ways: as a regular FIU alum and also as an alum of the FIU Honors College. This gives me the honor and privilege of meeting with at least two classes each PAW. I enjoy exploring the campus, finding things that were not there when I was a student (like traffic lights!), and of course taking pictures. If you ever see someone posing around campus with a teddy bear…that’s me! I created a platform for behavior analysis dissemination (The Behavior Station® platform), and I have some really great shots all over campus of the mascot, Trainmaster Barry.

FAA: What would you say to a fellow alumnus to encourage him/her to participate in Panther Alumni Week?

TA: I guess I would say: Why wouldn’t you?

FAA: How would you describe your years as an FIU student?

TA: I consider those years valuable, fun, and formative; I would not have been the person I am today without those years.

FAA: What is your favorite memory of being an FIU student? 

TA: I think my favorite memory of being an FIU student was being a part of the FIU Honors College. Many of my best FIU stories stem from being a part of that tiny community within the larger FIU family — like the time I had to walk through a real gator hole to get to the tree branch I sat on to eat lunch. One of the FIU Honors classes I took was off-campus; we met in the Everglades twice per month. It was definitely the craziest class I have ever taken.

FAA: What activities or experiences would you say helped you the most to get you where you are today?

TA: Besides my formal education, I think that what helped me the most was my support system. My mom, dad, brother, husband, and all the other family members that have taken every worried or excited call really helped make it possible.

FAA: Why is it important for you to stay engaged/connected with FIU?

TA: FIU is part of the reason I am who I am today. I like to stay engaged and connected, because I feel that FIU will always be part of my life. It’s impossible for me to drive by FIU on the highway without glancing over to see what looks new, or just quickly reminisce. That sounds corny, but I guess it’s just loyalty; I am loyal to FIU.

FAA: What advice would you give to current students and/or young alumni?

TA: Get involved as much as possible on campus. I remember being told that, but thinking it was dumb or too time-consuming. I know that most FIU students are commuters, and that most of them have off-campus jobs, too. I lived it; there was a semester where I had three off-campus jobs, plus I worked in a lab on campus and took classes. To the young alumni, I would tell them to stay involved and in-touch with FIU. Regardless of where you are or what you are doing, I think the most important thing is just to keep growing and learning. When you find your passion, it’s almost like you can’t help it — you want to just keep learning.

FAA: What is your favorite career-related quote or mantra?

TA: “Say what you mean; mean what you say.” I think this is my favorite quote, because it’s all about behavior. What you say is behavior, and what you do is behavior. When we start to think this way and think about how our behavior impacts others, we give ourselves the opportunity to be better people. This quote is relevant in all aspects of life. If you give your word, stick to it; it doesn’t matter where you are. Just by keeping your word, you can get so far in life, because most people do not do that.

Want to get involved with Panther Alumni Week? Learn more and register at paw.fiu.edu.