Richard Brilliant MS ’93: Helping Students Chart a Course for Success

–By Clara-Meretan Kiah for FIU News

As part of the Next Horizon “crew,” Richard Brilliant MS ’93 plays an integral role in the university’s comprehensive fundraising campaign. He and his employer, Carnival Corporation, have for years helped pilot the ship at the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, where they have contributed expertise and funding to ensure smooth sailing for motivated students.

Brilliant knows firsthand the challenges many FIU students face. A first-generation college graduate, he’d been raised to join the family business. But in a perfect storm, a tragic death forced the company under just as the newly married Brilliant, with a baby on the way, was ready to start. He then turned to FIU for an advanced degree that would help him navigate the turbulent waters.

A master’s program in hospitality and tourism that included industry experience through an internship, coupled with the support of mentor Elisa Moncarz, a professor emerita with whom he remains close, eventually led to his first full-time job in the cruise industry. That would launch his long and successful career, which today includes two decades with Carnival, where he is senior vice president and chief audit officer. During that time, he has hired and worked with a number of FIU graduates and been impressed with their preparedness to excel in an ever-evolving industry.

“They have a true roll-up-your-sleeves, get-it-done kind of attitude,” Brilliant says. Over a decade serving on the Foundation board, of which he is currently the skipper, he has also watched the university grow in size and reputation as it meets the educational needs of South Florida’s citizens and the workforce needs of the region’s industry.

It’s why he and his family have created scholarships to support hospitality students as well as donated to relief funds for students affected by recent hurricanes—and why he encourages the Carnival Foundation, which has donated millions to support FIU scholarships and learning facilities, to keep FIU in mind.

“Why invest in FIU? Because here, perhaps more so than at other universities, I can see the direct impact of my giving.” Well said, Captain.