The Jorge and Darlene Pérez Excellence Award is given to graduating seniors enrolled in the Honors College each semester, providing them with monetary support for post-graduate studies and other goals. The recipient of the award is chosen based not only on academic excellence but their willingness to give back to the community during their time at FIU and beyond.
For Roxana Martinez Bermejo, the $10,000 award will allow her to continue her education at the Columbia College of Dental Medicine with hopes of becoming a doctor of dental surgery.
“I aspire to become an asset in the field of dentistry and make an impact on South Florida residents, becoming a reliable health care source to each one of them,” Bermejo says, “This scholarship will help me initiate my dental education, providing me with funds to cover expenses in this new journey that I am choosing, to grow as a person and as a professional.”
While her ambitions to help others led her to dentistry, Bermejo’s initial career goals started in the realm of art. Inspired by her artistically inclined family, she began her undergraduate career as one of the few students chosen to join the art history program at Havana University. Her trajectory changed after being diagnosed with periodontitis, a gum infection that can lead to severe complications.
“At that point in my life, I started to learn how dentists work and how important it is to have an oral education from an early age. These professionals’ interest in finding solutions was more than extraordinary: an inspiration. Here was when my curiosity for this field started to grow. In school, I even began looking for painters that had depicted dental scenes.”
Bermejo was selected to participate in a conference about art history in The United States in 2016. With the help of funds awarded to her after winning an international poetry competition, she decided to settle down in South Florida and begin working towards her new passion.
“Life’s journey has prepared me with skills that allow me to adapt quickly to a changing world and has taught me to be resilient. I took on the challenge of learning a new language, and over the past five years, I studied and worked full time, including this last period when I have been serving my community from the front lines against Coronavirus.”
Since emigrating from Cuba, Bermejo has established roots in the region. She began working as a certified pharmacy technician, currently employed by Jackson Memorial Hospital, and participated in panels about opioid consumption and COVID-19 vaccine outreach. She stays connected with her artistic side, helping establish The Juan Ramon Jimenez Foundation of Coral Gables with the goal of celebrating Hispanic poetry in the city.
“I want to dedicate the following four years to creating the best version of myself because I know that my opportunities to give back to my community will be uncountable as a dentist,” Bermejo says. “In the end, my dream is to turn a person’s smile into my finished canvas to be appreciated and enjoyed.”
To learn more about the Jorge and Darlene Pérez Excellence Award, visit: https://fiu.academicworks.com/opportunities/10543