In the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department of Florida International University, we’re well accustomed to seeing our graduates pursue successful careers in the governmental and private sectors, making contributions in areas such as transportation, structural engineering, water resources, environmental engineering, research and development, or academia, among a wealth of other sectors. But it’s unique for us to see an alum achieve success in the arts – and incredibly special to see one be recognized on a national stage.
Richard Blanco, the inaugural poet for President Obama’s second inauguration on January 21, 2013, earned his Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from FIU in 1991. Though that was over twenty years ago, Blanco remains fresh in the memories of the FIU CEE faculty; Drs. Ton-Lo Wang and L. David Shen remember Blanco as a very good student. Blanco also went on to receive a second degree from FIU years later: a master’s in creative writing.
Blanco’s selection as inaugural poet is remarkable for many reasons. He is only the third individual to ever be selected as an inaugural poet, joining the ranks of American masters Robert Frost and Maya Angelou on a very short list. Blanco is also the first Hispanic and gay inaugural poet and, of course, the first FIU alumnus.
Watch Blanco recite One Today, the original poem he wrote for President Obama’s second inauguration, here:
Congratulations, Richard Blanco, on a momentous accomplishment from your colleagues in FIU CEE! We are very proud of you.