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Missing home doesn’t slow down UNF international graduate student

Moyra Pinard HeadshotAfter receiving her bachelor's in accounting and business administration from Flagler College, Moyra Pinard, a resident of Trinidad, knew she wanted to stay in Northeast Florida to continue her education. Though she loved accounting, analytics appealed to her sense of organization and she wanted to find a strong business analytics program to pursue her master’s degree.  When some of her friends who attended the University of North Florida shared their positive experiences, she decided to enroll in the Coggin College of Business. 

While earning her degree, Pinard spent much of the past year as a research assistant for the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UNF. In her position at the SBDC, which provides management assistance and training to prospective or existing small-business owners in North Florida, Pinard conducted research to help create industry and financial reports for small business clients to benchmark industry trends and stand out against competitors. 

“One company that Moyra helped wanted to open a laundromat in a smaller town,” SBDC assistant director Nancy Boyle explained. “Moyra successfully performed demographic research of the area and helped review business and financial plans to analyze the company and determine best potential revenue means.” 

During her time at the SBDC, Pinard was given the freedom to apply the skills she learned in classes and use problem-solving techniques to get research requests and other projects done. 

“Moyra has been a great addition to our research team,” said Boyle. “She is very good at being able to take the raw information and translate the numbers into a narrative for the clients to understand.” 

Away from home to pursue an education  

Moyra working on analytics on a computer in the SBDCWhen Pinard excitedly packed her bags for a journey from the sunny beaches of her home in Trinidad to the sunny, albeit colder, beaches of Northeast Florida to pursue her bachelor’s degree, she had no idea that her academic pursuit would keep her in the state for the next six years.  

“I was originally drawn to Florida because I believed it was going to be warm,” Pinard explained. “Even though I wasn’t ready for the frigid winter days, I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve been able to learn academically and being able to experience what it means to represent a foreign country abroad.”  

Despite longing for the warmer climate of Trinidad during the colder months, Pinard has appreciated many of the other experiences that came with living in the state, such as the diversity of people she met and the connections she made throughout the years.  

“I really found myself in great communities here in Florida, whether it was through school, church or work,” said Pinard.  

When the pandemic took over in 2020, like many other international students, Pinard was unable to return home. While finishing her undergraduate degree, she lived on campus and with a friend who offered her a place to stay, before eventually renting a place to live. It was not until the Fall of 2023 that she was able to finally visit her family and friends in Trinidad.  

“I’m not going to lie, it was really hard not being able to go home for such a long time, and being an international student doubles the stress because I was also jumping through hoops at times to make sure my status in the U.S. stayed active amidst the COVID craziness,” Pinard said. “However, it was also a very beautiful time in my life in that, despite the really bad days, I always had friends – who are basically family at this point – who were willing to help me with even the smallest things.”  

Life after graduation  

Moyra Pinard explaining analytics to a clientOn Friday, Dec. 15, Pinard will graduate from UNF with a Master of Science in Business Analytics.  

In the upcoming years, Pinard plans to either work in people analytics at a start-up or non-profit, or at a medium-sized company doing more financial-related analytics, where she can engage and continue learning, and eventually earn a Ph.D.  

While she can see herself officially calling Florida home one day, she is also open to the chance of returning to Trinidad in pursuit of a successful career.  

“During my time at UNF, I have become so much more independent, taken ownership of my life and set goals for what I truly want, rather than settling for current circumstances,” said Pinard. “Everyone has really encouraged me and provided invaluable advice, which I will always be grateful for.”