Philippe Kevin Lyberal, 23, was born and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. As an international student, Philippe faced unique challenges. He had no choice but to get creative. This month, Philippe’s ingenuity and sacrifice pays off when he receives an Associate of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Broward College. 

It Started with a Dream

After completing high school in Haiti, Philippe knew he wanted to study Engineering, Energy, and Manufacturing. Philippe’s parents wanted him to stay close to home. 

“My objectives just didn’t align with the schools in Haiti,” said Philippe. “I knew that if I wanted to get the kind of education I dreamed of, I needed to leave. I knew it was going to be hard, but if I wanted more. I couldn’t give up.”

Understanding the sacrifices that came with traveling abroad to obtain an education, Philippe’s parents couldn’t help but be a bit skeptical of his choices. They wanted the best for their son and didn’t want to see him struggle with the financial, social, and cultural barriers that can plague an international student. 

Ready to Make a Sacrifice

As his parents suspected, Philippe encountered challenges that made his journey difficult. As an international student, Phillippe had to navigate a lack of transportation, difficulties affording the costs associated with the international student status, and the overall culture shock from leaving his friends and family for an entirely unfamiliar place. 

Without a car and new to the country, Philippe initially found himself struggling to understand the public transportation system. Sometimes, spending two to three hours getting to and from school. With time, patience, and determination, Philippe found the most time and cost-efficient routes that got him where he needed to be. Noting that there were days where his commute was cut in half thanks to the kindness of friends that offered him rides from campus to campus.  

When it came to navigating financial obligations and making connections, Philippe found solutions to both. By getting involved in student activities and joining clubs and organizations offered at Broward College, Philippe identified a number of scholarships and funds that were available to him. He also used his Math knowledge to get a job tutoring other students at the Academic Success Center. Along the way, Philippe met many like-minded students that became his good friends. 

Hard Work That Pays Off

“Being involved in different clubs and organizations created the space for me to meet like-minded people who shared my interests and supported my personal growth,” said Philippe. “I am grateful for the unforgettable experiences I had with the clubs I joined.”

His dedication to being involved shows, holding titles such as Student Government Senator, Phi Theta Kappa Vice President of Fellowship, Vice President of the Seahawk Soccer Club, Phi Theta Kappa All Florida Team, Jack Kent Cook Semifinalist, Math tutor on Central and North campus, and a Peer Mentoring mentee.  

His advice for those thinking about how they could possibly do it– ask for help. 

“I’m here today because a lot of people helped me get here,” said Philippe. “I had to go through a lot to understand who I am, to get where I am today, and I didn’t do that by myself. Ask for help. Reach out. Don’t give up.”

What comes next?

When asked what he wanted to do with this degree, Philippe’s answer was simple, "I want to help people."

“I hate seeing people suffer. I want to use my engineering knowledge and passion for renewable energy and the environment to bring forward new power systems,” said Philippe. “If we can put more into renewable energy, that will help create jobs, that will help people live better lives. It can really change it all.” 

As far as Philippe’s parents, they have seen his drive and motivation firsthand and have fully come around to support his decision to study abroad. His mom is excited to join him at graduation. 

Philippe is undeniably excited to take his education even further. As of right now, he has been accepted into programs at Florida International University, University of Central Florida, University of South Florida, and Florida State University. 

Are you thinking about pursuing a degree in Engineering? Interested in a program that emphasizes time spent in state-of-the-are laboratories and hands-on training? Learn more about the College’s Associate of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree.