September 28, 2022

FIU training program for health care workers is yielding results

Diamond Lind knows what it’s like to care for someone in need. She was her grandmother’s primary caretaker before she passed away. A certified nursing assistant, her grandmother taught her all the basics of caretaking.

It was then that Lind realized her dream career.

For several years, Lind worked as a preschool teacher and cared for her father, who is mentally disabled. Her family of Puerto Rican and Salvadoran heritage lived in poverty.

Lind realized something needed to change. In 2016, she enrolled in Miami Dade College to earn her associate's degree, and in 2019, she applied to FIU’s Urban Potential Laboratories (UP Labs)

Now in its eighth cohort, UP Labs, housed in the FIU Office of Engagement, is a 14-week program that engages the underemployed or unemployed and prepares them for high-demand jobs in the health care industry. Through hands-on learning, training, and career skills with FIU faculty and community partners/professionals, students prepare to land jobs as nursing assistants, medical technology specialists, patient associates, supply chain managers, administrative assistants, and most recently, medical assistants and phlebotomists.  

Through a recent partnership with Miami Dade College, UP Labs students can also transfer classes they took in the program to college credits, helping students graduate with an associate's or bachelor’s degree even faster. 

“I wanted to join UP Labs to start a career in health care,” said Lind, who graduated in Cohort II. “I learned health care administration, basic bedside care, and I even learned personal skills. I got a little bit of everything, and I loved it.”

After receiving her certificate from UP Labs, Lind landed a volunteer opportunity at Niklaus Children’s Hospital and a scholarship through the Baptist Health South Florida’s Baptist Health Nurse Scholars Program. 

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Recently, she graduated with an associate degree from Miami-Dade College, became a registered nurse and is now looking at multiple full-time job offers from Kendall Regional Hospital and Baptist Health South Florida.

“Both FIU UP Labs and Miami Dade College helped me by giving me the opportunity to learn,” says Lind, who received the inaugural UP Labs Alumni Award at Cohort VII's graduation this month. “UP Labs and Miami Dade College will help you with everything – from applying to college to finding the right program for you.”

Lind is looking to specialize in surgery and/or pediatrics. Her dream is to take the skills she learned as a preschool teacher and help kids as a pediatric nurse.

“Don’t be scared to fail,” says Lind when asked if she had any advice for students or individuals that may be struggling with poverty, unemployment or personal challenges. “Without failure, there’s no success.”


Applications for UP Labs Cohort VIII are currently open. If you are ready for a new career in healthcare and are interested in participating in UP Labs’ FREE 14-week certification program, please apply by July 15, 2022.

To learn more about eligibility requirements and submit your application, visit the UP Labs website at uplabs.fiu.edu.  

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