Cesar Villa-Garcia, #FIUSCIS Student, Named FIU Worlds Ahead Graduate


Worlds Ahead graduates are nominated by faculty members to be personally honored during their commencement ceremony. These graduates exhibit outstanding perseverance, intelligence, personal strength, and fully demonstrate and embrace what it means to be Worlds Ahead. This sets them apart from their graduating class and marks them down in FIU history. This year, Cesar received ten nominations – more than any nominee from the university – for his accomplishments as a student and a leader.

Cesar Villa-Garcia, who is currently an undergraduate student majoring in Computer Science, was recently named an FIU Worlds Ahead graduate for his outstanding academic, professional, and personal achievements. Cesar was recognized by President Rosenberg at this semester’s commencement ceremony as he graduate alongside thousands of students.

Cesar began pursuing his career in Computer Science at FIU in 2014, through a Presidential Scholarship from the Honors College. He has since excelled academically in the many courses he’s taken, gaining lots of technical and leadership skills. Cesar has also performed research, investigating ways of improving User Experience for software applications. Outside of FIU, Cesar has had the opportunity to intern as a software engineer for both JP Morgan Chase, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and is currently working for Spotify. This has led Cesar to receive a number of recognitions during his time at FIU, including the Outstanding CS Student and Outstanding Service awards.

Cesar’s most proud accomplishment, however, is his work as President of Upsilon Pi Epsilon (UPE) – the largest student organization for technology at FIU. “Coming to FIU, I noticed there wasn’t an active student community in SCIS and I wanted to change that,” says Cesar. This is when he chose to run for President of UPE during his first semester at FIU. He was then elected to lead the organization, building what is now a vibrant community of tech students at FIU. UPE, which started with 25 active members in Cesar’s first year as President, is now made up of 500 active members this 2018 school year.

UPE’s mission is to promote the learning and use of technology through its eight programs, which include activities such as technical workshops, professional development, community outreach, technical projects, mentorship, and hackathons. ShellHacks – UPE’s hackathon and the largest one in the state of Florida – brought together 700 attendees from around the world to learn how to code, build innovative projects, and present their solutions. All of these programs, established under Cesar’s leadership, have been instrumental in engaging students and growing the tech community at FIU. “What’s most rewarding is when students tell me that, through UPE’s programs and activities, they’ve been able to find their true passion for technology,” says Cesar. “That means more to me than any award I could ever receive.”

UPE has also obtained major sponsorships from over 50 employers who have taken notice of the organization and believe in its mission. This includes top companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook, who have donated funds to help grow UPE’s programs and activities. This has amounted to about $150,000 in sponsorship donations in the last two years, the largest raised by any student organization on campus. This achievement, along with UPE’s membership and programs, have resulted in the organization receiving top awards both locally and nationally. Under Cesar’s watch, UPE at FIU has been named “Outstanding Chapter” by the UPE National Council and “Outstanding Engineering Organization” by FIU’s Council for Student Organizations.

“It’s been amazing to see the tremendous growth and support that UPE has experienced in the last few years,” says Cesar. “Not only has UPE become the community for tech students at FIU, it has also become a pipeline for employers looking to recruit great talent from our school.” Indeed, this past year, over 60 UPE members have obtained internships and full-time jobs at top companies. “It’s been very rewarding to see so many of our members succeed, and the impact that the organization is having on their professional lives.”

Moving forward, Cesar’s mission is to bring all of his experiences together to help solve major challenges facing the tech industry. He’s also looking to continue supporting UPE in any way he can and contribute to the growth of the tech community in South Florida. “I’m honored to have worked with such an amazing faculty, staff, and students throughout my time at FIU,” says Cesar. “This is an experience I will never forget, and one that has shaped me both as a person and a professional for the rest of my life.”