Growing up in The Villages, Florida, Benjamin Dinal found himself straddling two worlds. Before he was born, his parents had immigrated to the United States from the Philippines in search of better opportunities for their family.
“My family has always focused on preserving our culture through the food I grew up eating and the language we spoke. They also wanted me to be involved with the local community to help me become part of American society and learn more about American culture,” said Dinal, now a junior majoring in computer science at Florida Polytechnic University. “It was interesting growing up and seeing their perspective on a lot of things.”
Dinal internalized many of his parents’ values, including being a hardworking person for himself and for others. This was one of the driving reasons behind his decision to pursue a position with the University’s Presidential Ambassadors, a highly selective group of students who serve as official ambassadors for Florida Poly events and activities.
“Giving tours and hosting events is a great way of giving back to my University and it’s also a great way to hone my social skills,” Dinal said. “It has given me a chance to be a leader.”
May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and as Dinal succeeds on campus and in his studies, he is mindful of setting a good example for those who come after him.
“I want someone else who looks like me to say, ‘They’re successful and they look like me, so I can be successful like them,’” he said.
With physical therapist parents and an older sister who is a civil engineer, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) was ever-present in Dinal’s life. He built his own computers while he was in high school and participated in coding challenges. Florida Poly seemed like the perfect place for him to pursue his own STEM goals.
“I really liked the tight-knit community Florida Poly has – I’ve made a lot of friends and we see ourselves almost like a second family,” Dinal said. “The staff really gets to know you and it feels really personal, which I find really endearing.”
To make the most of his time at the University, Dinal has thrown himself into student organizations like the Student Government Association, the Music Association, and the Diversity Club.
“Diversity is one of the things I’m passionate about,” he said. “I love representing others who can’t represent themselves or who feel underrepresented. In the Diversity Club we try to include everyone and promote their ideas and promote mental health.”
As he heads into his upper-division courses, Dinal is dedicated to accomplishing his goal of becoming a UX/UI designer and UX researcher. A UX designer focuses on user experience while a UI designer focuses on user interface. UX researchers provide answers to challenging questions about a product’s design.
“My parents really love the idea that I’m involved here and pursuing my goals,” Dinal said. “They’re really proud of me, especially as a first-generation American.”
Director of Communications