In between trying to find a ride, courting sponsors and moving out of his Indianapolis apartment, Victor Carbone decided to take the first step toward a long-time goal: earning a college degree.

Like many professional athletes, the demands of being a race car driver often put college on the back-burner. Carbone, 20, watched many of his friends start off on their post-high school adventures, and decided it was time to join in.  

“In 2011 when I was doing my first year of Firestone Indy Lights, I was a senior at Saint Brendan High School,” Carbone said. “I have taken one year off from school, and now I’m going back just so I don't stop completely. It is always productive to keep learning new things and have more knowledge.”

In looking at potential schools, the prestige of Florida International University caught his eye. Miami’s first public research university, FIU has been making an impact in its community and across the world since its founding in 1965 and now hosts a student body of about 46,000, slightly larger than the field of peers Carbone is used to mixing with on the racetrack.   

According to FIU’s website, 50 percent of teachers in the Miami-Dade Public School System have degrees from the university. It is ranked first in the country in awarding bachelor’s and master’s degrees to Hispanic students and fourth among one-year international MBA programs.

“Besides having really good programs and being one of the best universities in Florida, FIU has a great campus atmosphere, too,” Carbone said. “I didn’t know if I would be able to attend a college campus while pursuing my career as a race car driver, and FIU is everything I was hoping for.”

Carbone is currently taking two classes, Math and English, hoping to accomplish a degree. In the meantime, he is still working to sort out his 2013 racing plans. In two years with Sam Schmidt Motorsports, he has one win, two poles and 10 top-five finishes.

“I still don't know where I am going to end up in 2013,” he said. “I am analyzing my options, and trying to see what will work best.”