FIU Foundation News

Child's Dream to Become a Panther Comes True

“FIU to open law school.” In 2001, this headline sparked a dream in an 8-year-old girl growing up in the Dominican Republic. Dorysped Mancebo knew from that day on she would be a Panther.

As a child, Mancebo often traveled to South Florida to visit her aunt. It was at her aunt’s home that she heard the news about FIU Law.

The road to get to FIU wasn’t – and still isn’t – easy. Having been raised speaking Spanish until she was in her 20s, Mancebo first had to strengthen her English when she arrived in the United States. So, while living with her family in their new hometown of Pompano Beach, Fla., she attended Broward College before transferring to FIU as a junior.

“When I visited FIU, it felt like coming home,” Mancebo remembers of her first campus tour. “The kindness shown to me made me feel at home.”

Mancebo traveled by bus – two buses each way, in fact – to make it to class at FIU’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus from Pompano Beach.

But the arduous commute never withered her determination to succeed. And neither has the fact that she lost her sight at the age of 14 due to a condition called coloboma.

Mancebo graduated in May of 2019 with two bachelor’s degrees (international relations and French), a minor in Portuguese, and certificates in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Linguistics, and Translation and Interpretation.

Mancebo is the recipient of the Dr. Fareed Haj Scholarship, funded by an endowment created by Nadia Haj ’74, one of FIU’s first graduates, in honor of her late husband. Dr. Haj held a doctorate in rehabilitative counseling and was a respected teacher and counselor for students with disabilities in the Miami area. He himself was blind, and he was grateful for those that supported him on the path to success, says his son, George Haj.

Mancebo says the scholarship has made a great difference for her family.

“To pay for my education, both of my parents took on second jobs,” Mancebo says. “Due to the generosity of the Haj family, my parents have been able to cut back to one job each, and I am very grateful for that.”

“We’re very impressed with Dory and her commitment to her education and her drive,” Haj said.

After graduation, the next stop on Mancebo’s journey is law school to study immigration law. She hopes to one day help those who come to the United States searching for opportunity, as she once did. And her greatest ambition – to attend FIU Law – has been realized. She received her acceptance letter shortly after graduation.

Says Mancebo, “I believe that dreams come true, and FIU is the place where that happens for students like me.”