Alum earns Harvard master’s degree and thanks PBSC
Growing up in humble beginnings in Brazil, Palm Beach State College alumnus Fabio DeMoura learned early the value of hard work and education, but he never imagined that he would earn a master’s degree from Harvard Extension School, one of 12 degree-granting institutions at Harvard University.
He credits PBSC and its faculty for supporting him and helping prepare him to achieve his goal this year. Now a West Palm Beach resident with dual citizenship in Brazil and the U.S., DeMoura pursued his master’s degree mostly online while working full time as a national support specialist for Philips Healthcare, a multinational technology company, where he has been employed since 2008. He donned a cap and gown in May and participated in the commencement ceremony in Cambridge, Mass.
“I thought if I could do this coming from a foreign country, having to learn English and overcome all of those barriers, it would be a good inspiration for other students,” he said. “This isn’t the type of thing you do without the support of a lot of people. I had the support of my wife, the support of my supervisors at work and the support of my professors at Palm Beach State, which is very important.”
DeMoura, 40, enrolled in PBSC in fall 2011 after relocating to West Palm Beach from Boston, where he previously worked as a field service engineer for Philips Healthcare. With academic credentials already from an electronics school in Brazil, he began taking courses toward an associate degree at Bunker Hill Community College. However, to secure the promotion to his current role at Philips Healthcare, he had to relocate to the Southeast. He chose West Palm Beach, and then enrolled at PBSC to continue his education. He earned an Associate in Applied Science degree in Business Management in December 2012 and a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Supervision and Management with a general management concentration in December 2014. He then pursued his Master of Liberal of Arts in Extension Studies degree with a management focus at Harvard. His company paid his tuition at both PBSC and Harvard. He says PBSC’s bachelor’s program prepared him for the rigors of graduate school while working full time.
“All of the professors for the bachelor’s program are really good, especially Dr. Caroll Capers. He would say ‘learn this well because if you apply for a master’s degree, you’re going to need it,’ ” he said. “They were always there for you.”
DeMoura, who moved to the U.S. in 2000, worked at High Technology for about seven years before landing the job at Philips Healthcare. He also said he credits much of his success to his mom, who raised him and his two siblings alone after his parents separated. “She is an amazing woman, and she always inspired me to go after what I want in life. She worked as hard as she could to make sure we could go to school because she knew an education was the only thing that could set us free. I didn’t want to disappoint her so I gave my best, but we didn’t have the resources to pay for a college degree in Brazil,’’ he said in a note to Capers and some of his other former PBSC professors. When he later met his wife, whom he married in 2013, she encouraged him to learn English and move to the U.S. to pursue an education.
Capers said students’ stories of success is why he enjoys his work. “When students are successful in any graduate program and they come back and credit you with having contributed to that success, that’s why I teach,’’ he said.
He said the Capstone Experience aims to help them prepare for graduate school with writing, research and critical thinking skills. “A lot of what they do in the Capstone Experience course requires them to identify an organization , identify a problem within the organization, conduct research and make recommendations for addressing that specific problem. The research paper is really based on the dissertation that you would do in graduate school or a thesis. We try to focus them on being able to write and cite sources appropriately,” he said.
To learn more about PBSC bachelor’s programs, visit www.palmbeachstate.edu/bachelors.