Inspired by their daughter, Panther parents’ scholarship supports dietetics students completing unpaid internship requirement

Left to right: Cipora Auslander '79, David Auslander, Joey Moreno, Jaco Moreno, Monica Auslander Moreno MS '13, Aviva Auslander and Jonathan Schonfeld, with dogs Madeleine and Betsy

A proud Panther family is helping ease dietetics and nutrition master’s students’ financial burden as they complete their unpaid internship requirement for graduation.

The path to a dietetics and nutrition master’s in the state of Florida is a formidable undertaking. Not only is the program itself highly competitive, but a state requirement for licensure can add extra stress for students who may already face financial hardship: Students must match with and complete an unpaid internship in the field to earn their license.

Upon learning this, David and alumna Cipora Auslander ’79, parents of FIU Dietetics & Nutrition alumna Monica Auslander Moreno MS ’13, knew their daughter’s peers might be struggling.

Having been surprised to find FIU’s tuition lower than many other graduate schools Monica may have attended, David and Cipora decided to use the extra money they’d saved for her tuition to establish a scholarship endowment at FIU’s Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work (Stempel College) during Monica’s first year of graduate school.

“Somehow, this working-class kid from Levittown, New York, ended up pretty successful as a lawyer in Miami, and between Bright Futures and Florida Prepaid, the cost of our girls’ [undergraduate] education was a lot less than we’d planned for. So, I wanted to make sure someone who didn’t have the resources we have could attend the program, too,” said David, who is an attorney and founding partner at Nemiroff & Auslander. He and Cipora contribute to the scholarship endowment annually.

Now an FIU alumna, Monica Auslander Moreno owns her own business, Essence Nutrition, and serves as a dietician for the Miami Marlins. Monica also remains active on campus – she has participated in the scholarship’s selection committee and has hired several other FIU alumni as consultants at Essence.

“I have nothing but wonderful things to say about my FIU education. And because I chose my internship sites strategically, it opened up career opportunities for me after graduation. But I remember the stress of completing the internship requirement – the program is so competitive, and I was working so many hours,” Monica recalled of her internship at University of Miami Hospital, which led to her first job at Holtz Children’s Hospital at Jackson Memorial Hospital. “I’m proud to be able to say my family is helping take that financial burden off other students so they can follow their dreams, too.”

The selection committee is how she met one of her recent hires, Christy Gardner. Remembering the impression Gardner made on her when she was selected for the scholarship, Monica brought her on as a consultant at Essence.

“The scholarship really made a difference for me while I was finishing my internship,” Gardner said. “And I’m so thankful it led a job after graduation, too.”

Though Monica and Cipora are proud FIU alumnae, the Auslanders are, of course, equally proud of their younger daughter Aviva’s accomplishments as a recent graduate of the University of Florida and David’s experience as a two-time alumnus of the University of Miami. Monica also received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.

When David and Cipora were first considering where they might direct their philanthropy, the couple felt they could make the most impact at FIU, where thousands of students are the first in their families to attend college, as David and Cipora once were.

Their decision was affirmed at Monica’s commencement ceremony, where they were overwhelmed with Panther spirit. David said the sense of accomplishment and pride among the audience was palpable, and he was especially inspired by a family they sat next to who were from Haiti, their child the first in their family to earn a college degree.

Ten students have been awarded the Auslander Family Scholarship so far – an impact that will continue in perpetuity due to the nature of an endowed scholarship.

“We are grateful to Monica and the Auslander family for recognizing the need of our students and for their generous contribution to this important endeavor,” said Tomás R. Guilarte, dean of Stempel College.