Student Spotlight: Arnel Garcesa

"I am truly grateful to the faculty and staff who spend time and energy helping students learn and succeed," says Arnel Garcesa.

Arnel Garcesa is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in statistics – his second undergraduate degree from FSU – within the Department of Statistics, part of the College of Arts and Sciences. In addition to his studies, Garcesa serves as an energy specialist for Cenergistic, LLC, a contractor working with FSU since 2017 to build a customized energy conservation program. 

Where are you from, and what year in school are you? What is your anticipated graduation date?

I was born and raised in Tampa, Fla. By credit, I am a senior, but this coming fall will be my sixth year of post-secondary schooling. I am a proud FSU alumnus, having earned my bachelor’s in mathematics in 2016. I anticipate graduating at the end of summer 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in statistics.

What brought you to FSU?

My first memory of FSU was watching the football team on television winning a game by a large margin and associating the school as a dominant force. The seed was planted then, and I kept that memory throughout my early life of wanting to join a group of individuals committed to excellence.

What inspired you to choose your majors and your specific areas of research?

My first major was biomathematics – there is boundless potential to apply mathematics to the practical world. My current major is statistics, which is also a discipline integrated into modern industry and policy. I seek to apply concepts I’ve learned in the classroom to make the world a better and more efficient place. I am currently researching the development of solar power as an energy source used by utilities across the state of Florida. I hope to conduct mathematical or statistical analysis of these findings to identify trends that may explain aspects of solar energy’s growth in the Sunshine State and be useful to policy-makers seeking its expansion.

What aspect of your area of study do you find most fascinating?

Statistics blends complex formulas with the human affinity for storytelling and understanding. Analyses of datasets lead to quantitative insights. People can then translate these insights into everyday language with a narrative impact that allows them to understand the result.

You currently serve as an energy specialist for Cenergistic: tell us about this role.  

Cenergistic partners with mostly public-education clients (e.g., school districts, higher-education organizations and municipalities) to reduce utility consumption. We leverage knowledge of occupant behavior within the confines of existing building infrastructure to optimize management of key resources including electricity, water and natural gas, among others.

How did you learn about the position, and how does statistics help you in your work?

A friend and former classmate remarked about the great work Cenergistic does within the Pinellas County, Fla., school district. I wanted to contribute to making the world a greener place and was fortunate to learn FSU partnered with Cenergistic to reduce energy consumption and expenditures. In addition, these efforts support one of FSU’s strategic plan goals to enhance campus commitment to sustainability.

Statistics has helped immensely in my current role. One of my responsibilities is to ensure that meter readings and cost savings are presented accurately and broken down by commodity. Since the university is a dynamic environment, I also ensure comparisons between current periods and our baseline are judged in a fair comparison. Applying statistics helps me identify those meters that require my attention and focus – whether it is an opportunity to further reduce consumption in support of the university’s strategic goals or identify mechanical issues inhibiting optimal performance.

Are there any faculty or staff that have helped or inspired you?

I am truly grateful to the faculty and staff who spend time and energy helping students learn and succeed. I am fortunate to have gained greater clarity in a variety of fields for personal and professional understanding, and I hope to return the favor to those who come after me.

In particular, I would like to thank Elizabeth Swiman, director of campus sustainability, who leads a team of passionate individuals improving the environment through action. As one of those students, I had my first structured experience aimed at making the world a greener place. This opportunity set me on the path for my current role.

What on-campus resources/departments or offices have helped prepare you for academic success?

FSU Campus Rec helped me balance my academic obligations. I am grateful for the athletic opportunities offered at the Leach Center, the Fitness and Movement Clinic and through countless semester seasons of intramural sports. Chasing the title of all-campus champion is similar to academic life as it is also difficult, humbling and rewarding.

What do you like to do when you’re not doing schoolwork or research?

You will likely find me cheering for the Seminoles in many places. You might find me working out at the Leach or improving my endurance running on paths across campus. I also play several sports casually such as with the FSU Club Field Hockey team and other intramural sports teams with friends.

After graduating, what are your plans? Although you might miss FSU, what are you looking forward to in your post-graduate life?

I hope to continue helping my alma matter reduce its utility consumption and put these savings toward the development of the best student body and university in the state.

What advice do you have for fellow students?

Improve – even if it is marginally –at something you love each day.

Sit in the front row of your life.

Life will undoubtedly test your resolve and mettle. Believe that you are capable of persevering and achieving your goals. Be grateful that the obstacles you face will make you a stronger and more fulfilled person.