Young alum joins Pathway to Philanthropist program with gift to establish scholarship for first-generation students

Jose Maldonado is recognized as a Worlds Ahead Graduate at his commencement ceremony in 2017.

With a recent gift to establish the Ruth Andrade – Jose Alberto Maldonado Zavala Scholarship Endowment, computer science alumnus and first-generation college graduate Jose Maldonado ’17 has become one of the first members of FIU’s Pathway to Philanthropist program.

The scholarship will benefit first-generation students in the Honors College, of which Maldonado is a graduate, with preference given to freshman who plan to pursue a degree in computer science or engineering.

FIU’s Pathway to Philanthropist program offers donors a unique and flexible approach to the giving process, in which they can grow their personal philanthropy over time while making an immediate impact at FIU. Maldonado’s gift includes an annual cash gift to fund scholarship awards; an endowment on which he will build over time to ensure the perpetuity of the scholarship; and a planned gift to FIU in the form of a life insurance policy, which will maximize impact of the endowment fund.

“What I liked about the Pathway to Philanthropist program is that there are multiple levels of impact my gift can have. In the immediate term, the scholarship will help students with financial and mentorship support to do their best work for their communities. In the long term, building the endowment and building towards the life gift will solidify that support for generations to come,” Maldonado said.

Maldonado has long been inspired by the determination, work ethic and compassion of his Ecuadorian grandparents, for whom the scholarship endowment is named. Despite humble beginnings, his grandparents managed to build national companies in the beauty and beer distribution industries – and made sure to share their successes with the community.

“Both my grandparents faced insurmountable challenges in their lives in Ecuador – broken homes, political unrest, the endemic poverty found in Latin American countries, all while pushing themselves and their families forward,” Maldonado said. “They both had a core vision – that through hard work, perseverance, and above all, humility, anything is possible. Through that vision, they both reached their individual success, and they both made sure their communities benefited from it.”

At FIU’s College of Engineering & Computing, Maldonado found a driven community of budding engineers and tech professionals, as well as faculty and staff who encouraged his curiosity and challenged him to think critically. He was a founder and executive board member of Upsilon Pi Epsilon, FIU’s tech-focused professional development organization for student. Many UPE alumni have landed jobs at leading tech companies in the U.S. – Maldonado himself now works as a software engineer for Xbox Game Streaming at Microsoft, and he also serves as an alumni advisor for UPE.

The combination of extra-curricular enrichment opportunities and an engineering curriculum the emphasizes career readiness left a lasting impression on Maldonado. It’s what motivates him to stay engaged at FIU as an alumnus and why he decided to join the Pathway to Philanthropist program.

“At FIU, I met a community of hungry, like-minded individuals. We were steadfast at tackling hard problems and coming up with creative solutions with the people around us – and that’s exactly what [I] do at Microsoft,” Maldonado said. “FIU also had a wide range of growth opportunities in the areas of entrepreneurship with StartUP FIU, research with the FIU Discovery Lab, leadership with the Center for Leadership & Service, and technology with UPE that prepared me outside of the engineering classroom.”

As FIU’s momentum in the burgeoning Miami Tech movement continues to accelerate, more and more students are entering the tech field armed with FIU educations that have prepared them to excel in this ever-evolving industry.

“By investing in the people and university that will continue powering this movement forward,” Maldonado says he hopes to play a part in its success, as FIU played an integral role in his.

If you are interested in learning more about the Pathway to Philanthropist program, please visit