2019 Legacies

Page 1



The Annual Magazine of the

University of South Florida Office of National Scholarships

USF Office of National Scholarships


National Student Awards Display, pg. 5 2018-19 Recipients, pg. 6 Alumni Updates, pg. 26

TABLE OF CONTENTS Director’s Welcome......................................................................................................................................... 3 Office of National Scholarships Staff............................................................................................................... 4 National Student Awards Display...................................................................................................................... 5 Recipient Spotlights Kilian Kelly.................................................................................................................................................... 6 Mabel Proenza............................................................................................................................................... 7 Kevin Orner................................................................................................................................................ 8, 9 Kira Harding................................................................................................................................................ 10 Manuel Regalado.................................................................................................................................... 10, 11 Miriam Friedman.......................................................................................................................................... 12 Ivan Pineda.................................................................................................................................................. 13 Misha Fini............................................................................................................................................. 14, 15 Janine DeBlasi, Justin Doherty, Alejandro Navas, and Kayla Li.................................................................... 16, 17 Sophia Abraham..................................................................................................................................... 18, 19 Events and Recognition The U.S.-U.K. Special Relationship in a Post-Brexit Era: A Panel Discussion...................................................... 20 Legacy of the Marshall Scholarship: A Panel Discussion............................................................................. 20, 21 Prestigious Awards Selection Committee......................................................................................................... 22 USF Fulbright Day........................................................................................................................................ 23 2018 Group Award for Outstanding Global Engagement............................................................................. 24, 25 Alumni Spotlights Dalia Elmelige.............................................................................................................................................. 26 Hiram Ríos Hernández.................................................................................................................................. 27 Final Thoughts Visionaries................................................................................................................................................... 28 National Scholarship Recipients..................................................................................................................... 29



Go Bulls!

Sayandeb Basu, Ph.D. Director of the Office of National Scholarships University of South Florida


Envision. Engage. Excel.

ENVISION. ENGAGE. EXCEL. These are the goals of the USF Office of National Scholarships (ONS). Since joining ONS as its Director in 2016, I have been inspired by our team’s ability to foster a nurturing environment where students are shaping their future and the world around them. They do this under the guidance of ONS mentors by daring to envision, continuing to engage, and excelling in their calling. Two years ago I attended an event where I sat at a table of freshmen, all with a story to tell. Among them was a young woman named Amber Pirson who dreamt of changing the plight of human trafficking victims. There was also a young man named Willie McClinton who wanted to “make a brain” from inanimate parts, one that could learn, reason, and perhaps feel. Dreams. Some would say unattainable ones. Today, Amber has connected non-profit organizations working to alleviate human trafficking through an online app she co-created. She has also interned at a criminal law firm, diving into statutes that may lead to saving victims from unfounded incarceration and criminalization. As I write this, she is in Thailand as a Boren Scholarship recipient, learning Thai and building bridges to local social work non-profits. Amber was selected for the Fulbright U.K.-Summer Institute Program her freshman year, and is a Truman Scholarship Finalist for 2019. Willie is working on Brain Computer Interfaces, helping ALS patients to improve their quality of life through Brain Painting, a virtual reality platform. He was selected to be a summer research fellow at the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, received first prize at the Emerging Researcher Network conference, and is a Goldwater Scholarship nominee for 2019. National Scholarships are awarded to individuals, like Amber and Willie, who distinguish themselves in research, leadership, and community service, and who dare to put their dreams to work. At ONS, we work as mentors to create opportunities for them to collaborate with our campus partners and engage with faculty members. In the past few years we have surpassed multiple milestones. In 2017, we achieved an all-time high of 66 National Awards, including ten student Fulbright awards, the most in Florida. In 2018, we celebrated our ninth Goldwater Scholar in USF history. Also in 2018, we were proud to lead Florida and rank sixth in the nation for the number of Gilman awards, an education-abroad scholarship for Pell-eligible students. Much work remains as we focus on inspiring a new generation of citizen scholars at USF. Our newly minted student organization, “Visionaries,” complements our work with outreach to students through USF’s Living Learning Communities. I look forward to the future and invite you to learn more in this edition of Legacies about our office and the talented students we serve.




Dr. Sayandeb Basu joined the Office of

National Scholarships (ONS) as its director in 2016 from the University of the Pacific in California, where he was faculty in Physics and the Honors College. Dr. Basu is a theoretical physicist and has published on quantum physics and on the physics of black holes for more than a decade. He experienced a global education, including in India, at the University of Cambridge (in the United Kingdom), and at the University of California, Davis, where he obtained his Ph.D. Dr. Basu’s passion is nurturing students to become architects of their personal, academic, and professional goals. While teaching at the University of the Pacific, he served as the chief Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) liaison for the office of fellowships. He combined his love of culture, language, international study experience, and mentoring skills to help foster a campus culture where faculty, students, and staff joined forces to make student success a habit rather than a cliché.

At the University of South Florida (USF), he brings this enthusiasm and commitment to ONS. Dr. Basu has dedicated his efforts to creating campus partnerships and making scholar development a system initiative, with many participants working together for student success. With USF’s preeminent status, he considers his work at ONS a priority. Scholarship Portfolio: Goldwater Scholarship, Hollings Scholarship, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (GRFP), German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Research Internship in Science and Engineering (RISE), Fulbright U.K. Summer Institute Program (joint campus representation with Ms. Lauren Chambers), Rhodes Scholarship, Marshall Scholarship, Mitchell Scholarship and Gates-Cambridge Scholarship.

Ms. Lauren Chambers joined the Honors College in 2008, and ONS in 2011. She is currently the Associate Director of ONS and the Fulbright U.S. Student Program Advisor (FPA) for USF. She received her bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Florida. She is a member of the National Association of Fellowships Advisors (NAFA) and has presented at NAFA conferences on the connection between appreciative advising and fellowships advising.

Lauren has been part of the ONS office since its inception and has a unique perspective regarding how to positively support students through the entire application process. She helps students focus on their future goals and how they can be achieved through a national scholarship award. Lauren enjoys working with students on their applications and serving as their mentor, advisor, and cheerleader. Getting to know her students and having meaningful conversations which lead to national scholarship applications are the best parts of her job. As an undergraduate student, Lauren studied abroad twice in Italy. She continues to be a globe trotter, and her favorite way to travel is by cruise ship. She has taken almost a dozen cruises to the Caribbean, Mediterranean and most recently, to Alaska and Canada. When she is not traveling, Lauren enjoys reading mystery and historical fiction novels, and spending time with her husband, family, friends, and cats. Scholarship Portfolio: Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Fulbright U.K. Summer Institute Program (joint campus representation with Dr. Sayandeb Basu), and the Florida Gubernatorial Fellowship Program.

Ms. Lauren Bartshe-Hanlen joined

ONS as Assistant Director in 2017. She earned a bachelor’s degree in German from Hendrix College in Arkansas and a master’s degree in German Studies from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She

From left, Lauren Chambers, Lauren Roberts, Lauren Bartshe-Hanlen and Dr. Sayandeb Basu gather in the John and Grace Allen Building courtyard at USF. 4


received multiple study grants to Germany, Poland, and the Netherlands, including a 2010-2011 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Germany. At ONS, Lauren connects students to experiential learning opportunities that align with their academic, professional, and personal goals, and assists with the preparation of scholarships focused on public service and international affairs. She most enjoys working with students on developing an authentic voice in narrative writing. Outside of ONS, Lauren likes to explore Florida with her husband and two dogs. She is an avid reader, home chef, trivia enthusiast, language learner, traveler, and musician – she has played the viola for more than 20 years. Scholarship Portfolio: Truman Scholarship, Boren Scholarship and Fellowship, Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship, Rangel International Affairs Fellowship, DAAD Scholarship, Schwarzman Scholarship, Rangel Summer Enrichment Program, Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Institutes, College to Congress, as well as federal internships, and other experiential learning opportunities.

Ms. Lauren Roberts joined ONS in

2017 as a National Scholarship Advisor for both ONS and USF’s Education Abroad Office. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in both History and Biology from Denison University and a Master of Education degree with a concentration in College Student Affairs from the University of South Florida (USF). She studied abroad in Kenya and Tanzania as an undergraduate student, which fueled her desire to work in international education. Lauren loves to advise students who assume that study abroad is not possible for them. Her office may be tucked away in the corner of the Allen Building, but you can’t miss the huge Tanzanian painting of water buffalo covering the wall behind her when you walk in. It is her own version of the USF Bulls! Scholarship Portfolio: Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, Critical Language Scholarship (CLS), Freeman-ASIA, and Fund for Education Abroad.

About the Cover: Celebrating our National Scholars IN THE SUMMER OF 2018, the University of South Florida (USF) installed a national scholarship awards display in the Marshall Student Center. The distinguished commemorative panels include the names and awards of every USF national scholar since the university’s founding in 1956. All awardee names for each year thereafter are engraved on the panels and backlit to pay tribute to the gravity and prestige of each award. As new national scholars from USF are awarded, additional panels will be mounted and updated to celebrate their success. A large video monitor

showcases a series of national scholar stories. This feature adds a personal touch to the already stunning monument and provides contact information for students interested in meeting with national scholarship advisors. The display was created through a partnership with the Office of National Scholarships (ONS), the Provost’s Office, the USF Facilities department, and the Marshall Student Center. The goal of this celebratory custom design is to inspire the next generation of national scholarship recipients while honoring USF’s history of distinguished awardees.



Recipient Spotlights

Kilian Kelly Honors Student Interns and Conducts Research in the Dominican Republic

O Kilian Kelly

GILMAN SCHOLARSHIP The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is a grant program that enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, thereby gaining skills critical to national security and economic competitiveness.


N HIS FIRST TRIP to the Dominican Republic with the Honors College in December 2017, Kilian Kelly saw some of the most prevalent public health issues faced by the people in the communities he visited. “Of all the plights that I witnessed, the conditions that stood out to me the most were the widespread parasitic and fungal infections - especially in children,” says Kilian. “Due to the consumption of impure water, many people experienced consistent and repetitive infections of intestinal parasites and epidermal fungal infections on the face and cranium.” Seeing children suffering from preventable afflictions inspired him to begin research on social and structural barriers preventing people from accessing safe and clean water sources. “I am interested in the overlap between social determinants of health, water access, and infection control,” he says. Kilian is an Honors College junior and a native of Melbourne, Florida pursuing bachelor degrees at the University of South Florida (USF) in Biochemistry and Anthropology, as well as a minor in Public Health. He is a recipient of the Gilman International Scholarship, which provided funding assistance for a public health internship in the Dominican Republic during the summer of 2018. “I participated in various activities with the Kerolle Initiative, a community health organization dedicated to improving health quality of the most vulnerable communities in the Dominican Republic, led by Dr. Reginald Kerolle,” he says. “This initiative included working in mobile medical clinics in rural communities along the north coast, working on various sustainable projects in the communities that the initiative serves, and aiding in community mapping of the Bella Vista community in Sosua,” he explains. “I also had the opportunity to work on my own personal research on clean water accessibility in rural communities on the north coast of the Dominican Republic.” Kilian collaborated with the Office of National Scholarships (ONS) throughout the Gilman Scholarship application process. “Working with the ONS team really helped me to write a well thought-out and cohesive statement that was personable and evoked emotion to convey why my work in the Dominican Republic mattered,” he says. “A successful application for a national scholarship should be looked over


by multiple people throughout the writing process to ensure consistency and clarity.” He is grateful for the support he received from ONS, as well as Honors College faculty and a former national scholarship recipient. “I attribute my success to Lauren Roberts in the ONS office, Dr. Lindy Davidson in the Honors College, and former Gilman Scholarship recipient Rebecca Howell,” says Kilian. “Lauren Roberts was my main support system through the application process. She read every draft of my personal statements and encouraged me as I made my way through the application.” After graduation from USF in spring 2019, Kilian plans to return to the Dominican Republic to conduct an epidemiological review of Dr. Kerolle’s patient charts to quantify prevalence of waterborne infectious diseases. Kilian feels this award is pivotal to his success because it allows him to get a taste of the type of work he wants to do professionally. “I want to work in global health and infectious disease,” he says. “I want to identify how they intersect with environmental health and sustainability.” Kilian presented preliminary findings from his summer internship and field work with Dr. Reginald Kerolle at the 2018 American Anthropological Association annual meeting in San Jose, California – his third national conference presentation. He also plans to present his research at the 2019 Society for Applied Anthropology national conference in Portland, Oregon. Kilian plans to pursue a master’s degree in public health and a PhD in applied anthropology.

Gilman Scholars

Mabel Proenza First Year Student Receives Two National Scholarships to Study in China


ABEL PROENZA’S INVOLVEMENT in Chinese culture at the University of South Florida (USF) shaped her academic focus and strengthened her desire for life-changing study abroad opportunities. As a first year student double majoring in International Studies and Chinese, she knew she wanted a career that would integrate her desire to help people with her love of Chinese culture. Mabel is an Honors College student and the recipient of two national scholarships: the Gilman International Scholarship and the Freeman-ASIA Award. Both scholarships supplied the funding necessary to make her dream of studying in China a reality. “I went to China for two months and studied conversational Chinese language at Peking University in Beijing, China,” says Mabel. In addition to language classes, she took a course to learn about traditional and modern aspects of Chinese culture, Language and Culture Practicum. She was introduced to Chinese language and culture through a music class in high school that focused on Chinese opera, so she was eager to learn how to perform vocal music and traditional plays. While in the country, Mabel had the chance to explore historical aspects of civilization by hiking the Great Wall of China and visiting cities around Beijing. Mabel believes this opportunity to improve her Mandarin Chinese language skills and broaden her understanding of Chinese history and culture will advance her career goals. She plans to become a Public Diplomacy Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State, focusing on the East-Pacific region. This position manages cultural and information programs to promote U.S. initiatives abroad. After returning from China, Mabel was awarded a position with the U.S. Foreign Service Internship Program in November 2018. This will provide her with two paid internships – first at the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C. during summer 2019, then at an embassy abroad (location to be determined) in summer 2020. These internships will bring her one step closer to her dream of representing the United States as a diplomat abroad. Ms. Lauren Bartshe-Hanlen, Assistant Director

of the Office of National Scholarships (ONS), helped Mabel through the application process. “The best advice I received,” Mabel says, “was to tell my story while outlining the goals I wanted to accomplish with the scholarship – and the personal statement was a crucial piece of the application, so multiple revisions and edits should be expected.” Even though Mabel has lived in Tampa, Florida since childhood, she considers her native Cuba home. She advises prospective applicants to take a chance, however hesitant they might be. “I would advise potential national scholarship candidates to apply, even if they think it is too competitive,” she says. “There is no harm in applying, and the process teaches you how to create a competitive application.” “Receiving the Gilman International Scholarship, Freeman-ASIA Award, and a position with the U.S. Foreign Service Internship Program were important steps toward achieving my academic and professional goals,” Mabel continues. “I plan to return to China in the future and reach native fluency in Mandarin Chinese while gaining global affairs knowledge and understanding Chinese culture.”

Mabel Proenza sits atop the Great Wall of China.

FREEMAN-ASIA AWARDS Freeman-ASIA Awards provide need-based funding to assist recipients with the cost of a study abroad program that concentrates on language and/or culture study in Southeast Asia.



Recipient Spotlights

Kevin Orner PhD Candidate Makes a Global Impact as a Recipient of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program

K Kevin Orner

FULBRIGHT U.S. STUDENT PROGRAM The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs. During their grants, Fulbrighters meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country and share daily experiences.


EVIN ORNER’S DESIRE TO ENGAGE in research which contributes to the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be traced back to his involvement as an undergraduate student with Engineers Without Borders at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Through volunteering with this organization, I learned that engineers can use their skills to address the needs of society, both locally and globally,” he says. “I served as project manager for a team of thirteen undergraduate students on the expansion of a wastewater collection system in El Salvador.” Kevin later designed and implemented an upgrade to a water supply system for an indigenous rural community in Ecuador. “Through my undergraduate experiences, I developed a passion to use engineering to address worldwide needs, such as protecting the natural environment, achieving a sustainable food supply, and providing clean drinking water and safe sanitation,” he says. He previously served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Water and Sanitation in Panama. There he investigated how in-line chlorination can disinfect rural water supplies. “I facilitated several six-day water management seminars for rural Panamanian water committees,” says Kevin. “The high value placed by the Panamanian people on relationships, simplicity of life, and environmental knowledge, even while experiencing the harsh consequences of lack of access to water and sanitation, still motivates me today to pursue research that benefits those in rural contexts.” Kevin, a native of Eden Prairie, Minnesota and a PhD Candidate in Environmental Engineering at USF, was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Program Research Grant to Costa Rica. This award provided the opportunity for him to construct and analyze a reactor that precipitates struvite, a slow-release fertilizer. The reactor receives liquid waste from a tubular digester, which uses microorganisms to break down biodegradable material in livestock or human wastes. This process will allow farmers to have a local organic option for obtaining fertilizer, reducing the need for synthetic products. The objective of his Fulbright Research Grant to Costa Rica was to determine the effectiveness of tubular digesters and a struvite precipitation reactor


in treating livestock waste. “These wastes contain carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus, which, when discharged in excess, can negatively affect water quality and aquatic ecosystems,” Kevin explains. “Biogas from the digesters can be used to heat water or buildings, cook, or even produce electricity, limiting the need for fossil fuels or wood as fuel sources.” Costa Rica was the ideal location to carry out his research given its desire to protect the environment and its lack of wastewater treatment infrastructure. During the 10 months he spent in Costa Rica, Kevin and his team developed a treatment system for agricultural waste in a rural farming area. The system consisted of two small-scale tubular anaerobic digesters that were integrated with a low-cost, locally produced struvite precipitation reactor. The treatment system was researched to quantify nutrient recovery and to understand recovery mechanisms. This system offers multiple benefits to Costa Ricans: improved sanitation, nutrient removal to prevent excessive nutrients in water that may cause algae blooms, recovery of struvite as a potential fertilizer, and production of a final liquid stream that is suitable for irrigation. “These results are examples of how quantifying and understanding nutrient recovery from agricultural waste can facilitate progress toward multiple environmental development goals,” explains Kevin. “These measures improve sanitation and food security, promote sustainable management of wastes and natural resources, and support local ecosystems.” In addition to receiving the Fulbright Research Grant in 2017, Kevin was awarded the American Water Works Association Roy W. Likins Scholarship in 2016 for academic achievement and involvement in drinking water industry technical initiatives. During the application process for both national scholarship awards, he worked closely with the Office of National Scholarships (ONS). “The Office of National Scholarships provided clear directions to facilitate a complicated application process,” he says. “Particularly, Ms. Lauren Chambers provided great support and encouragement.” Lauren is USF’s student Fulbright Program Advisor (FPA) and works with students on their Fulbright application materials through a rigorous campus application and endorsement process. Kevin also attributes his success to the sup-

Fulbright Scholar

port of his PhD advisors. “I am thankful for my co-advisors, Dr. Jeffrey Cunningham and Dr. James Mihelcic, for their challenging guidance and warm encouragement to help me advance in my academic pursuits.” He looks forward to continuing his groundbreaking research in the classroom and beyond. “My long-term goal is to obtain a tenure-track

faculty position in Environmental Engineering,” says Kevin. “I intend to research resource recovery technologies, teach with integrated sustainability themes and international applications, and serve local and global communities through sustained mutually beneficial collaborations - the Fulbright award provided me with the experience and network to pursue that goal.”

Kevin and his team standing next to a reactor which precipitates struvite, a slow release fertilizer. From Left: Mario Perez, Kevin Orner, Francisco Castro, and Emmanuel Leiton. Kevin’s team are maintenance staff members at the University of Georgia-Costa Rica.



Recipient Spotlights

Kira Harding Kira advises potential applicants to be intentional about their application process, especially when selecting a host country. “A national scholarship like Fulbright not only impacts you as a potential recipient, but also the people you will work with while in your host country,” she says. “Making sure it’s a good match is really important for everyone involved.” LEFT: Kira Harding teaches English in India.

Sophomore Studies Technology, Innovation, and Creativity in Scotland through the Fulbright U.K. Summer Institute Program

Alumna Teaches English in India through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program


N 2016, KIRA HARDING studied abroad in India through an educational program organized by the University of South Florida (USF) School of Social Work. The study abroad experience gave Kira the opportunity to interact with Indian children and experience daily life in India. After two weeks in the country, she realized she was ready for a more immersive study abroad experience. Upon her return to USF, the cultural immersion she experienced while in India inspired her to learn more about the Fulbright U.S. Student Program English Teaching Assistantship (ETA). In 2018 she applied for, and was awarded, a Fulbright ETA to India. Kira, an Honors College senior majoring in cell and molecular biology from Miami, Florida, had a wealth of experiences that made her uniquely suited to teach English in India. She participated in a peer mentoring orchestra program, and was a founding member and president of the USF Da Bull Reed Consortium. Kira served as a camp counselor for the USF Double Reed Camp, a camp designed for students to improve their performance and reed-making skills. Teaching English abroad was a much 10

more expansive role than she imagined. “I’m realizing that I am more than just a foreigner from the U.S. or an English teacher in India. I’ve become a friend, sister and aunt,” she says. “It’s way more than I ever expected, and the most incredible and rewarding experience of my time here.” During the Fulbright application process, Kira worked closely with the Office of National Scholarships (ONS) and the USF Student Fulbright Program Advisor (FPA), Ms. Lauren Chambers. “ONS helped every step of the way with writing workshops and individualized feedback on countless essay rewrites,” she says. Attending USF’s first annual Fulbright Day was also immensely helpful in preparing her to go to India. “During the event, past Fulbright recipients shared personal stories of what it was like for them to live abroad and work on their different projects,” says Kira. “It made my own trip less of an unknown.” In addition to obtaining valuable advice from previous Fulbright awardees, she learned important lessons during the application process. “I did quite a bit of research on teaching English in India, including history, current practices, and educational policies,” Kira says. “It helped me work out the specifics of why I wanted to teach English in India, what I could add to the practice, and how it could benefit my students. The ONS process taught me how to integrate it all together and best present myself.”



ANUEL REGALADO, AN HONORS College sophomore from Miami, Florida double majoring in Chemistry and Environmental Biology with a minor in Physics, studied abroad in the United Kingdom (U.K.) and learned how companies conduct business while providing innovative global solutions. Manuel is a recipient of the Fulbright U.K. Summer Institute Program, which allows U.S. undergraduate students to explore the culture, heritage and history of the U.K., while experiencing higher education at a U.K. university. There are nine different institutes (with varied themes) at nine different U.K. institutions for students to choose from. Themes include: “Understanding Ireland: Northern perspectives at Queen’s University Belfast, to “Climate change and the environment” at the University of Exeter, to “Understanding “Britishness” and British culture” at the University of Sussex. As a participant in the Fulbright U.K. Summer Institute Program. students will have the opportunity to study alongside leading academics and professionals, develop knowledge in specific fields, and become an ambassador for studying in the U.K., for the Fulbright Commission, and their institutions. Manuel chose to apply for, and study in Scotland for three weeks at the Glasgow School of Art and the University of Strathclyde for its “Technology, Innovation, and Creativity” Summer Institute. At the Institute, students are led by faculty from

Fulbright Scholars both institutions as they explore Scotland’s culture, history, and creative and technological industries. “I wanted to seek out ways in which academia, art and industry can form interconnected relationships,” he says. The Glasgow School of Art is internationally recognized as one of Europe’s leading higher education institutions for education and research in the visual creative disciplines. The University of Strathclyde, Glasgow’s second university, was founded in 1796 and received its Royal Charter in 1964. It is the U.K.’s first technological university and has a powerful heritage of partnerships with business and industry. This theme was reinforced during the program. “We studied the development of areas where businesses and universities work with local government to create an

innovative environment and an atmosphere that promotes networking,” says Manuel. “These innovation districts are not complete without social and recreational atmospheres, and art is a big part of that – it is the glue that holds innovation districts together.” While in Scotland, Manuel conversed with individuals who influenced his professional interests. “I met Donalda MacKinnon, Director of BBC Scotland,” he says. “I also met two distinguished professors, one of which, Sir Harry Burns, professor of Global Public Health, was knighted by the Queen. Both professors emphasized the importance of mental health in epidemiology and economics.” He worked closely with the Office of National Scholarships (ONS) throughout the application process. “ONS showed me how

Be true to yourself – do not falter or be insecure in your goals and dreams no matter how eccentric they may be.” – Manuel Regalado

to apply and think critically for these types of applications,” he says. “They opened my mind to the connections I needed to make on campus and the steps to obtain a national scholarship.” Manuel feels the Fulbright U.K. Summer Institute Program to Scotland was an exploratory and multicultural experience. “Being open to various disciplines in a different cultural environment gives you the ability to think outside of the box,” he explains. “It was very eye opening and life-changing.” In addition to what Manuel learned about himself while in Scotland, he was also transformed through the process of applying for a national scholarship, like the Fulbright U.K. Summer Institute Program. National scholarship applications are challenging, but he advises students to go into the process with an open mind. “Learn to take criticism,” Manuel says. “No matter how hard the criticism is, never suppress it or take it with a grain of salt – take it with 100 percent sincerity – otherwise, you will not fix your mistakes.” Inspired by his time in the program, Manuel’s goal is to develop sustainable materials which mimic unique adaptations in organisms. “I want to create materials that are inspired by nature,” he says. “One example would be a material that mimics the strong intermolecular forces in gecko feet that enables them to cling to smooth surfaces.” Reflecting on his experience in Scotland, and the application process that brought him there, Manuel encourages prospective applicants to capitalize on their individuality. “Be true to yourself – do not falter or be insecure in your goals and dreams no matter how eccentric they may be, but use that to your advantage,” says Manuel. “Do not hide your weaknesses or try to outshine them in your application. Make your weaknesses part of your strength by adding a human touch.” LEFT: Manuel Regalado shows his Bull Pride in the Scottish Highlands.

Manuel Regalado U N I V E R S I T Y O F S O U T H F LO R I D A


Recipient Spotlights

Miriam Friedman Critical Language Scholarship Recipient Studies in Russia


IRIAM FRIEDMAN TURNED HER LOVE of the Russian language into a unique language learning experience. She was a 2018 Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) recipient, which afforded her the opportunity to study Russian language during the summer in Vladimir, Russia. CLS is an intensive language learning program and recipients are expected to use their target language in future academic studies and in their professional careers. Originally from Stockholm, Sweden and holding dual citizenship in the United States, Miriam is a junior double majoring in International Studies and World Languages and Cultures (Russian Concentration) with a minor in Anthropology. Miriam has worked as a Virtual Student Foreign Service e-Intern, discussing economics, politics and culture with Foreign Service Officers preparing for their service in Sweden. Her extensive global experiences have motivated her to become a U.S. Department of State Consular Officer after she attends graduate school, providing services to American citizens overseas including emergency and non-emergency assistance and issuance of visas and passports. Her love of Russian began with coursework at USF. “Before being awarded the scholarship, I had been studying Russian language at USF for two years, and I was eager to continue learning it and exploring the culture,” says Miriam, who is now the Communications Director of the USF GloBull Ambassadors. Members of the organization share their study abroad experiences and knowledge with students who are thinking about studying abroad. They also help students prepare to study abroad by encouraging them to work with the Office of National Scholarships (ONS) on national scholarship applications. “ONS helped me by reading through my personal statement and providing feedback, which added focus to what was important in the essay,” Miriam says. She credits ONS with helping her generate a competitive application and advises other students to focus on factors which make them unique, such as their personal background, cultural and academic interests, and why they are interested in learning a critical language. Miriam recalled the intensity of the program and the level of dedication needed to be successful. “My program was intensive with four hours of class and three to four hours of homework everyday,



a minimum of three hours with our language partners every week, and planned weekly excursions,” she says. “This year, the program focused on the role of religion in Russian culture and history.” Miriam encourages interested students to apply regardless of their academic standing or language learning background. “CLS wants a diverse cohort of various students at different language levels,” she explains. “If you can show that you are committed to the goals of the program, then you are deserving!” In addition to receiving the CLS award, she accepted an offer of employment with the U.S. Department of State at the Consular Office in Astana, Kazakhstan. “Ms. Lauren Bartshe-Hanlen, Assistant Director of ONS, reviewed my application and I was offered the position,” says Miriam. “I am in the process of obtaining my security clearance.” She plans to continue her relationship with CLS by applying to study Russian again during summer 2019. “As an intermediate language learner, I plan to apply for the program again,” Miriam says. “I believe CLS has challenged me greatly and improved my Russian skills more than I could imagine.”

Miriam Friedman visits Peterhof Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. The series of palaces and gardens are often referred to as “Russian Versailles.”

Critical Language Scholars USF Junior Receives Three National Scholarships for Study in Southeast Asia


VAN PINEDA HAS CREATED a unique trajectory for his future through globally impactful research. He has earned three national scholarships: the Freeman-ASIA Award, the Fund for Education Abroad Scholarship, and the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS). These awards enabled him to study Chinese language while exploring additional interests for research in China. Ivan, an Honors College junior double majoring in Quantitative Economics and International Studies, embarked on the 2018 CLS intensive language learning program at the Dalian University of Technology (DUT) in China. “I experienced rigorous study and practice of the Mandarin language and was involved with my host community in a way that few Americans get to experience,” he says. “I stayed with a host family in Dalian for two months and had a four-year-old host sister, who taught me songs and educated me on the different kinds of snacks in China.” His experience at DUT was memorable. “One of the professors in the mechanical engineering department taught me about Chinese culture and family life, as well as science and engineering initiatives at DUT,” he says. “I got to visit some of the labs and see research projects in progress.”

Ivan Pineda

As a result of his increased proficiency in the Chinese language, Ivan was also able to converse with local Chinese professionals about his career interests. “I’m exploring Chinese investments in green energies in Brazil and Italy and comparing the differences in China’s investment and economic policy strategy between developed and developing countries,” says Ivan, who is originally from Bogota, Colombia. “I believe the implementation and expansion of renewable energies is of paramount importance to the world.” Prior to his CLS travel, the Fund for Education Abroad and Freeman-ASIA Award afforded Ivan similar language study experiences in Taiwan. “They all gave me the flexibility of choosing the study abroad program I wanted,” he says. “I went to Taiwan with the Taiwan summer language program through American Councils, an international education institution that facilitates cultural exchange, language training, and professional development. I studied Mandarin Chinese in a very thorough curriculum,” he says. “I also took culture classes and was involved in local student clubs.” Inspired by his national scholarship experiences, Ivan hopes to obtain a Fulbright Study Grant for completion of a master’s degree, focusing on environmental finance and environmental policy. Ultimately, he dreams of becoming an entrepreneur with a focus on consulting projects in the green energy field. Ivan worked closely with the Office of National Scholarships (ONS) on each of his scholarship applications. “USF and ONS have truly been a blessing for me,” he says. “ONS supported me throughout the entire process, from finding out what programs I’m eligible to apply for to working with my recommenders to submit a competitive application.” Ivan believes his involvement in the USF community created an exceptional avenue for him to achieve his goal of entrepreneurship. “USF provided me with opportunities to get involved on campus and encouraged me to develop a scholarly mindset through classes and research opportunities,” he says.

CRITICAL LANGUAGE SCHOLARSHIP The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for American students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. Students spend eight to ten weeks abroad studying one of 15 languages designated critical by the U.S. government, such as Chinese, Russian, and Hindi. The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains.

FUND FOR EDUCATION ABROAD The Fund for Education Abroad subsidizes an education abroad experience for a student traveling internationally. Eligible students must demonstrate financial need.

Ivan Pineda U N I V E R S I T Y O F S O U T H F LO R I D A


Recipient Spotlights

Misha Fini Honors College Sophomore Earns Prestigious Undergraduate Research Award


N 2018, MISHA FINI, an Honors College sophomore majoring in microbiology, received the Goldwater Scholarship - one of the United States’ oldest and most prestigious national scholarships in the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics. The Goldwater Scholarship seeks to identify and support college sophomores and juniors who show exceptional promise of becoming the next generation of research leaders in these fields. Established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry M. Goldwater, the award provides $7,500 for educational expenses and research support. Misha became USF’s ninth Goldwater Scholarship recipient and was chosen out of almost 1,300 applicants across the country. She was one of only three Florida public university students to receive a Goldwater Scholarship last year. Misha is a native of St. Petersburg, Florida and began her research career in her freshman year at

This research has the potential to lead to new treatments and improve the quality of life for so many.” – Misha Fini

Misha Fini with Dr. Kenneth Wright, Principal Investigator of a project investigating the causes of a formation of a protein which contributes to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer which is estimated to take the lives of 20,000 people each year.



USF working with Dr. James Garey in his molecular biology lab. They worked together to understand the microbial ecology of Florida aquifers, including the relationship between microorganisms and their environment. The summer after her freshman year, she participated in an internship at Moffitt Cancer Center through their Summer Program for the Advancement of Research Knowledge (SPARK) Program, which provided ten weeks of intensive research study with one of the nation’s leading scientists at Moffitt. After the Program ended, Misha stayed at Moffitt to continue conducting research under her mentor and Principal Investigator (PI) of the project, Dr. Kenneth Wright. Their work investigates the causes of a formation of a protein that contributes to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer that is estimated to take the lives of 20,000 people each year. Misha began her studies at USF with an aim to become a medical doctor. However, after her participation in the SPARK program and research with Dr. Wright, she redirected her focus to conduct research that could lead to medical breakthroughs. The Goldwater Scholarship will help Misha continue her research and pursue a career goal of obtaining a PhD in Cancer Immunotherapy and becoming a university PI herself. “I’d like to work toward a better understanding of how the human body’s immune systems all work together to eradicate pathogens and how this can be used to defeat cancer,” she says. “This research has the potential to lead to new treatments and improve the quality of life for so many.” Although Misha has been successful in her research endeavors at USF, academic achievements have not come easily for her. She struggled to read and write when she was younger. “Due to constantly moving around in second grade I was unable to read,” says Misha, who currently maintains a 4.0 GPA. “I could barely read picture books that had three words per page, and I was placed in a special reading program for students who were behind.” She refused to let her circumstances dictate her path. “I was tired of being made fun of in class and put down by teachers who didn’t allow me to read books due to my poor reading level. I began borrowing books from the library and reading to my mother every day, asking about words or phrases I did not understand,” she says.

Goldwater Scholar Misha Fini working in the lab.

Misha’s determination led to academic success. “Eventually, I was able to keep up with my classmates,” she says. “Overcoming a personal challenge motivated me to push forward in higher education. I want to ensure no student is left behind, and serve as a mentor in my field.” Misha first learned about the Goldwater Scholarship through the university’s Office for Undergraduate Research and worked extensively with USF’s Office of National Scholarships (ONS) to create and refine her application. “The Office of National Scholarships gave me the guidance I needed when applying for the Goldwater Scholarship,” she says. “Dr. Basu worked tirelessly with me on the application and his guidance made a

tremendous difference.” “It is wonderful to see Misha’s success,” says Honors College Dean, Dr. Charles Adams. “Undergraduate research is both valued and promoted throughout our university and it is great to see how our faculty and staff have supported, and continue to support, Misha as she pursues her dreams.” In the future, Misha plans to help other students who are interested in learning and growing in their research fields. “I see value in encouraging alternative learning styles, such as those I utilized to improve my reading skills,” she says. “I want to foster an environment where students feel free to engage in collaborative and experimental thought.”

GOLDWATER SCHOLARSHIP The Barry Goldwater Scholarship was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years in the U.S. Senate. The scholarship is the most prestigious undergraduate award in the United States which recognizes excellence in undergraduate research. Applicants must be sophomores or juniors at the time of application, and a maximum of four students are nominated by each U.S. institution to participate in the national competition.



Recipient Spotlights

Kayla Li Janine DeBlasi Justin Doherty Alejandro Navas USF Prepares Students for Graduate Study at Oxford

I Kayla Li receives her academic attire at Oxford.


N FALL 2018, FOUR PRESTIGIOUS scholarship recipients embarked on fully funded graduate programs at the University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom. Among them were three Frost Scholars, Janine DeBlasi, Justin Doherty, and Alejandro Navas (all Honors College graduates), and the University of South Florida’s (USF) first Clarendon Scholar, Kayla Li. Kayla, who is from Clearwater, Florida graduated from USF with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences. She accomplished this in three years at the age of 20, and with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Her impressive academic credentials led Oxford to admit her to their Master of Science degree in Clinical Embryology, in the Department of Women’s and Repro-


ductive Health, and award her a Medical Sciences Graduate School Studentship. Soon after that, she was awarded the Clarendon Scholarship. Together, these prestigious awards subsidized her studies at Oxford. The Clarendon Scholarship is funded by Oxford University Press and aims to give the world’s most academically accomplished students the life-changing opportunity to study at Oxford, where they will form lasting social, academic and professional networks. As a Clarendon Scholar, she is among an elite group of students who currently represent more than 70 different countries. “I feel very honored and grateful for the opportunity to study at such a prestigious university alongside some of the brightest students in the world from so many diverse backgrounds,” says Kayla. “The intellectual stimulation and the cultural experience that Clarendon offers is exactly what I hope to gain during my time at Oxford.” “I would not have been able to network as easily without the program,” she says. “I am also excited for the different events hosted by the Clarendon Scholars’ Association, such as academic symposiums and cultural outings.” Her goal is to eventually become a Neonatologist and Director of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Kayla feels she was a strong contender for admittance to the University of Oxford and the Clarendon Scholarship thanks to the assistance she received from Ms. Lauren Chambers, Associate Director of the Office of National Scholarships (ONS). “I cannot thank Ms. Chambers enough for the patience and consideration she showed me throughout my work with ONS,” she says. “Her guidance truly helped me become a better professional.” Also working with ONS were USF’s three recipients of the Frost Scholarship. This generous award is sponsored by Governor Pat Frost of the Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida. Governor Frost and her husband Phillip provide funding for a limited number of students from Florida’s four-year public universities and the University of Miami to study for a full-time one year master’s degree in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields at Oxford. Among these Frost Scholars is Janine DeBlasi, an Honors College senior who majored in cell and molecular biology. Originally from Wesley Chapel, Florida, Janine was also a 2017 nominee for the Marshall Scholarship, one of America’s most prestigious national scholarship awards. She is grateful for the guidance and support she’s received from her research mentors, as well as her ONS advisors - Dr. Sayandeb Basu (Director), Ms. Lauren Bartshe-Hanlen (Assistant Director), and Ms. Lauren Chambers (Associate Director). For her Honors College thesis, Janine conducted innovative research at USF’s Morsani College of Med-

Oxford Scholars icine. She says, “I studied the effects of high-dose vitamin C and high-pressure oxygen on glioblastoma (brain cancer) cells, and also assisted with projects on cancer cachexia (a wasting syndrome sadly seen in many patients), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and central nervous system oxygen toxicity. I also was fortunate to assist on NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operations 22 - a mission that sends a small group of astronauts, engineers and scientists to live in Aquarius, an undersea research lab, for up to three weeks at a time.” At Oxford, Janine is pursuing a Master of Science degree in Radiation Biology in the Department of Oncology. Her career goal is to purse a PhD in cancer biology and become a Principal Investigator (PI) of a translational lab. Alejandro Navas, an Honors College senior majoring in physics, is a Frost Scholar from Tampa, Florida, who performed groundbreaking research at USF as a team member of Dr. Brian Space’s physical chemistry lab – also known as the Space Cadets. “We developed and used programs to simulate and investigate how fluids interact with certain materials - in particular, we focused on selective sorption processes, whereby the material traps some chemicals while others flow through relatively freely,” he explains. “These processes are especially interesting for efficient gas storage and separation technologies.” At Oxford, Alejandro is pursuing a Master of Science degree in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance in the Department of Geography and the Environment. After graduating from Oxford, he will attend law school at Stanford University. Alejandro plans to help develop and implement climate change mitigation policy in the U.S. “The work I intend to do will help look after geographically and economically vulnerable people in these regions,” he says. Justin Doherty, an Honors College graduate who majored in chemistry from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is the third Frost Scholar from USF. He completed his Honors College thesis project under the mentorship of Dr. Hua Pan at the USF Health Heart Institute, where he investigated therapies to attenuate the renal and cardiovascular toxicities that arise from chemotherapeutic regimens. Of his project, Justin says, “We sought to evaluate the therapeutic potential of a nontoxic nanoparticles pre-treatment, to mitigate cisplatin-induced acute kidney injury in pre-clinical models.” Cisplatin-based chemotherapy remains one of the most commonly used regimens for the treatment of carcinomas of the bladder, ovaries, head and neck, and esophagus. However, cisplatin-induced AKI is a dose-limiting side effect that occurs in up to 30% of patients receiving the drug. “This research has important translational value,” he explains. “This therapy could potentially allow patients to safely continue their cisplatin regimens longer and positively impact

their anti-cancer treatment outcomes.” Justin presented his research in a poster and an oral presentation at the Experimental Biology 2018 meeting in San Diego. He will now continue developing his research skills under the supervision of Dr. Joanna Hester with Oxford’s Transplant Research Immunology Group. “I learned about this spectacular program and the Frost Scholarship by working with Dr. Sayandeb Basu, Director of ONS,” he says. “This award is allowing me to pursue a Master of Science degree in Integrated Immunology from the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, which will add to my knowledge base and make me a more effective future transplant surgeon.” After completing his studies at Oxford, Justin plans to attend medical school with a special interest in transplantation, and will do so holding an advanced degree from the institution named the top university in the world for the second consecutive year by The Times Higher Education Global Rankings. Justin is hopeful for the future of cisplatin cancer treatment. “This research has important translational value,” he explains. “This therapy could potentially allow patients to safely continue their cisplatin regimens longer and positively impact their anti-cancer treatment outcomes.” These three Frost Scholarship recipients bring the total number of USF Frost Scholars to 12 out of 49 awarded in the program’s five-year history, the second highest number awarded in the state of Florida. Collectively, all four of these impressive USF graduates are creating a legacy of international impact and academic excellence. Oxford’s global focus, pursuit of new knowledge, and passion to improve the quality of life for others aligns perfectly with the undergraduate experience at USF.

From left, Alejandro Navas, Janine DeBlasi, Justin Doherty (all Honors College graduates), and USF’s first Clarendon Scholar, Kayla Li.

FROST SCHOLARSHIP The Frost Scholarship is a generous award sponsored by Governor Pat Frost of the Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida. Governor Frost and her husband Phillip provide funding for a limited number of students from Florida’s four-year public universities and the University of Miami to study for a full-time one year master’s degree in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields at the University of Oxford.

CLARENDON SCHOLARSHIP The Clarendon Scholarship is awarded on the basis of outstanding academic merit and potential to graduate students from around the world. Scholarships are accepted in all subject areas and are open to candidates who apply to a graduate program at the University of Oxford by the admission deadline.



Recipient Spotlights

Sophia Abraham USF Senior Receives Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship at a Prominent National Laboratory


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OPHIA ABRAHAM’S INTEREST IN RESEARCH became a catalyst for success on a national stage. She is a National Institute of Standards and Technology Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (NIST SURF) recipient and a research fellow in the Cryptographic Technology Group of the Computer Security Division at NIST. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) supports research and development for the smallest of technologies to the largest and most complex of human-made creations—from nanoscale devices so tiny that tens of thousands can fit on the end of a single human hair, to earthquake-resistant skyscrapers and global communication networks. Recipients of this award conduct research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology at one of two locations: Boulder, Colorado or at Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Dr. Basu encouraged me in ways I never imagined by believing in me as an individual and challenging me to push beyond my comfort zone and grow my understanding of self-worth and competency.”

– Sophia Abraham

Sophia’s research involved the implementation of lightweight cryptographic algorithms, which transform important pieces of data into random symbols, signs and characters so if they were accessed, they would be unreadable. Those pieces of data can then be decoded by using a “secret key” - a long random string of numbers and characters that, when used correctly, extract the original text in a readable form. This method protects important data during transmission. These algorithms establish secure communication in a system used to track objects, people or other items using small tags that respond to radio waves (radio frequency identification – or RFID) in a wireless communication technology that utilizes electromagnetic fields to identify and track tags. Tags are similar to those used to prevent theft on the inside covers of library books.


Sophia, a native of Tampa, Florida and a senior majoring in mechanical engineering at USF, was challenged to articulate her research goals as part of the NIST SURF application process. “Prior to applying, I had many interests and difficulty discerning the obscure nature of my future,” she says. “The application process required me to align my passions with past experiences and potential ambitions.” Her desire to continue learning led her to train herself in machine learning and artificial intelligence. In 2017, Sophia completed a six-month internship at SOFWERX, a technology firm in Tampa. During the internship, she worked on two defense-related projects. Her computer programming skills improved the fighting capabilities of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). In one of her internship projects, she used a brain-inspired system which replicates the way humans learn (artificial neural network) to enable a computer to detect the presence of an AK47 weapon. In 2018, Sophia was USF’s only nominee from the College of Engineering for NIST-SURF. During the application process, she worked closely with ONS and its director, Dr. Sayandeb Basu. “Dr. Basu assisted a great deal in the development of my personal statement and keeping track of deadlines and necessary documents for the application process’ limited time schedule,” Sophia says. “He encouraged me in ways I never imagined by believing in me as an individual and challenging me to push beyond my comfort zone and grow my understanding of self-worth and competency.” She advises potential applicants to never make the mistake of assuming they won’t have what it takes to win an award. “It is easy to erect an unrealistic concept of a national scholarship recipient in our minds and then perceive oneself as a diametrical opposite,” says Sophia. “I would advise applicants to bridge that mental gap and focus on the unique aspects of oneself, whether it be underlying motivations or an unconventional set of experiences, rather than try to present a false self.” In the future, she plans to attend graduate school and study computational science and engineering. She wants to become a professor and study real-time data regarding the neural systems and behavioral processes that underlie natural cognition. Sophia hopes her work will contribute to the advancement of doctor-supervised programs designed for people with diseases, injury, or


Sophia holding a wireless identification and sensing platform (WISP5), which uses radio frequency identification (RFID) in a wireless communication technology that utilizes electromagnetic fields to identify and track tags. Tags are similar to those used to prevent theft on the inside covers of library books.

The NIST-SURF Program is designed to inspire undergraduate students to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) through a unique research experience. This program supports the NIST mission of promoting U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement of science, standards, and technology in ways which enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. Over the course of 11 weeks, SURF students contribute to the ongoing research of one of the six NIST facilities, which are: Communications Technology Laboratory, Engineering Laboratory, Information Technology Laboratory, Material Measurement Laboratory, NIST Center for Neutron Research, and Physical Measurement Laboratory, which now includes projects in the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology.

disorders of the nervous system with an emphasis on secure infrastructures to protect them from external access. In her final semester at USF, Sophia utilized her expertise and talent as an intern at Custom Mobility in St. Petersburg, Florida. Custom Mobility is a unique organization that caters to the needs of people with severe ambulatory disabilities. During the internship, she learned about the human side of engineering. “I developed a deeper understanding of patient perspectives and interactive challenges with devices,” she says. “It was a great experience.” In addition to her unique experience at

Custom Mobility, she joined the Advancing Machine and Human Reasoning Lab with Dr. John Licato and the Neuro-Machine Interaction Lab with Dr. Marvin Andujar. “They took a chance on a mechanical engineering student,” she says. “I sincerely appreciate the opportunity and am grateful for their continual guidance and support. They are incredible mentors!” Sophia has also applied for the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP), which recognizes exceptional work in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. Her research goals include positive outcomes for humanity, and she looks forward to broadening the scope of her work in the coming years.

Since 1993, SURF students from across the country have had the opportunity to gain valuable, hands-on experience, working with cutting edge technology in one of the world’s leading research organizations and home to three Nobel Prize winners.



Events and

Recognition The U.S. – U.K. Special Relationship in a Post-Brexit Era: A Panel Discussion REACHING BEYOND BORDERS to improve educational opportunities and political relations shapes the historical “special relationship” between the United States and the United Kingdom. In the spirit of this relationship, the University of South Florida’s Office of National Scholarships (ONS) hosted a panel discussion on January 25, 2018 entitled, “The U.S.–U.K. Special Relationship in a Post-Brexit Era.” Distinguished guest panelists included the Right Honorable Henry McLeish, former First Minister of Scotland, and David Prodger, British Consul General in Miami. Dr. Mohsen Milani, Executive Director of the USF Center for Strategic & Diplomatic Studies, moderated an insightful discussion between Henry McLeish and David Prodger, who each offered candid perspectives on how the international relationship is nurtured and maintained. The heritage of this occasion dates back to 1948, when Winston Churchill gave a speech during the aftermath of the Second World War in Europe and coined the phrase, “a special relationship” to describe the partnership between the two countries. One example is evident in the legacy of the Marshall Scholarship program, created by an Act of Parliament in 1953 as a gesture of gratitude for the European Recovery Program, also known as the “Marshall Plan” after General George C. Marshall, who served as the United States Secretary of Defense from 1950-1951. This prestigious scholarship program promotes academic exchange and contributions to U.S.-U.K. relations. The event highlighted historical ties between the nations and sweeping political change amid both countries. Panelists discussed the 2016 presidential election as a pivotal point in U.S. history, and the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union (commonly known as Brexit). It was an appropriate global political backdrop to explore how the harmonious legacy between our two nations could strengthen and flourish. The panel discussion provided students and guests with enlightening perspectives on relations between the two nations. “We are grateful to our distinguished British guests for helping our students to see their nation in the broad framework of this enduring transatlantic partnership, and to think about our own domestic issues in an international context,” says Dr. Charles Adams, Dean of the Honors College at USF. “Their conversation provided a terrific illustration of the importance of a global perspective for truly understanding our own experience and our place in the world.”



Legacy of the Marshall Scholarship: A Panel Discussion PRESTIGE, TRADITION, LEGACY – these words best describe the Marshall Scholarship. The Marshall Scholarship was created to strengthen the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. In 1953, the Marshall Scholarship was formed by an Act of the British Parliament to provide an opportunity for America’s best and brightest students to study in the U.K. It was named for General George C. Marshall, the architect of the 1948 Marshall Plan, which helped rebuild a war-ravaged Europe in the wake of World War II. This prominent award has a high-profile history of recipients, including Secretaries of State, Supreme Court Chief Justices, Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners, and pioneers in science and arts. In 2016, Dr. Sayandeb Basu became the Director of the Office of National Scholarships (ONS) and saw the need for increased awareness of the Marshall Scholarship legacy on the University of South Florida (USF) campus. The Legacy of the Marshall Scholarship panel discussion was held on January 20, 2018 as an opportunity for Marshall hopefuls to learn how to prepare for the prestigious and fiercely competitive application process. Candidates require

From left: David Prodger, Former British Consul General to the Consulate of the United Kingdom, Miami; Dr. Jane M. Hawkins, Marshall Scholar, current chair of the Atlanta Region Marshall Selection Committee, and Professor of Mathematics at UNC-Chapel Hill; Paul Tash, Marshall Scholar, Chairman and CEO of the Tampa Bay Times; Dr. Sayandeb Basu, Director of ONS; Dr. Stephen Kuebler, Marshall Scholar, past chair of the Atlanta Region Marshall Selection Committee, and Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Central Florida.

endorsement by their university prior to moving forward with the application. “This event focused on how to prepare for Marshall Scholarships, opportunities in public affairs, and lifelong leadership activities,” Sayandeb Basu says. “The panelists represented past Marshall Scholars, including current or previous southeast regional selection committee members, as well as Former Consul General David Prodger from the U.K. Consulate in Miami.” The panel discussion addressed a number of important topics, including: advice on how to interview well, addressing strengths as well as weaknesses in the application process, and describing accomplishments boldly but without arrogance. In addition, the panel explained unexpected opportunities of becoming a Marshall Scholar, such as attending the Marshall Lecture Series with world leaders and gaining access to a vibrant network of scholars and alumni. Each panelist took time to acknowledge the

historic significance of this award and candidly offered their perspectives on competitive characteristics of Marshall Scholarship candidates. “The interviewers want to know your story,” says Dr. Jane M. Hawkins, Marshall Scholar, current chair of the Atlanta Region Marshall Selection Committee and Professor of Mathematics at the University of North Carolina (UNC) – Chapel Hill. “Be ready to talk about your strengths as well as your weaknesses.” Dr. Stephen Kuebler, a Marshall Scholar, past chair of the Atlanta Region Marshall Selection Committee and Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Central Florida, encourages students to become involved in their communities. “The candidates chosen to interview were not people who were involved in many organizations,” he says. “They were heavily involved with one or two groups, but did something really exciting, unique, or significant.” Paul Tash, Marshall Scholar and Chairman and CEO of the Tampa Bay Times, reflected on the long list of accomplishments typically seen on Marshall Scholarship applications. “For me, it’s not how long the list is, but what’s on it,” he says. “It’s not the number of items, it’s what they mean, or what I can discern that they mean – telling me who you are.” Paul Tash was awarded the Marshall Scholarship in 1976 while attending Indiana University, becoming one of the first recipients to break the Ivy League’s domination of the Marshall. “I studied journalism and political science,” he says. “I would

not have necessarily thought of myself as a candidate for a scholarship like this, but was encouraged to apply by a couple of professors in the journalism program who had some experience with these sorts of scholarships and thought I might make a good candidate.” Prospective applicants gained invaluable advice regarding how to develop a competitive application with the goal of crafting a multi-faceted narrative, including stories of strength, failure, struggle, and victory in the face of adversity. ONS plans to host future events that expand the conversation about the relationship between the U.S. and the U.K. USF’s only Marshall Scholarship recipient to date, Jean Weatherwax, was one of 36 American college students to receive the award in 2012. The Honors College alumna used her Marshall Scholarship to complete a Master of Science degree at Imperial College London in Analogue and Digital Integrated Circuit Design. In 2018, USF Outstanding Graduate Award winner Shawn Zamani came close to winning the award when he was selected as a Marshall finalist and interviewed with the Atlanta Region Marshall Selection Committee – an honor bestowed on few Marshall applicants. On average, 800-1000 candidates are endorsed annually by their respective universities to apply for the Marshall Scholarship. In 2018, a total of 160 applicants were granted the opportunity to interview and 48 were chosen as recipients. The Marshall Commission’s ongoing support of academic and career goals focused on strengthening the relationship between the U.S. and the U.K. made this panel discussion a beneficial and educational event for Marshall Scholarship hopefuls.

Did you know? In 2018, USF became a Preeminent research university in the state of Florida and also earned a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, affirming an upward trajectory of quality research and exceptional student achievements.



Events and Recognition LEFT: Prestigious Awards Selection Committee with student interviewees.

2018 Prestigious Awards Selection Committee Members: Ms. Lauren BartsheHanlen, Assistant Director, Office of National Scholarships (ONS), University of South Florida (USF), Fulbright U.S. Student Program English Teaching Assistant to Germany Dr. Sayandeb Basu, Director, ONS, USF, INLAKS Foundation Scholar to the University of Cambridge Ms. Lauren Chambers, Associate Director, ONS, USF, Fulbright U.S. Student Program Advisor

Prestigious Awards Selection Committee IN 2016, THE OFFICE of National Scholarships (ONS) brainstormed ways to increase campus engagement for the selection of prestigious scholarship award nominees. Their goal became an annual process which reflects the collaborative and preeminent culture on campus. The most competitive and prestigious national awards – such as the Rhodes, the Marshall, and the Truman Scholarships – require nominees to have a combination of strong academic excellence, diverse intellectual experience, and community involvement. They also require universities to endorse candidates prior to their application submission. In order to ensure that the students endorsed by University of South Florida’s (USF) leadership are the very best available, ONS Director, Dr. Sayandeb Basu formed a group to recruit and prepare the most competitive candidates. Since its inception in 2017, the Prestigious Awards Selection Committee has created a system for vetting students of exceptional ability for a chance at winning one of the most coveted national scholarships. Each of these prestigious awards require demonstrated academic accomplishments, credible leadership, civic engagements, and a vision for future work in academia or leadership in government, industry and entrepreneurship. Some have very specific requirements; the Marshall Scholarship, for example, requires that applicants show early signs of being a scholar and a statesperson. The selection committee includes past national scholarship recipients as well as university and community leaders, and has raised the standard



by which prestigious national award candidates are evaluated at USF. Rhodes, Marshall, Mitchell, Schwarzman and Gates-Cambridge Scholarships are aggressively competitive each year. In 2018, four candidates from a pool of nine nominees were chosen for interviews. There were two students chosen as finalists for the national competitions: Shawn Zamani for the Marshall Scholarship and Gates-Cambridge Scholarship, and Alexander Hayden for the Schwarzman Scholars Program. Soon after the Marshall Scholarship interview process, Shawn was selected as one of 34 recipients for the Gates-Cambridge Scholarship, which will provide him with the opportunity to pursue a PhD in cancer epidemiology at the University of Cambridge, in the United Kingdom. The Gates-Cambridge Scholarship program was established in October 2000 by a donation of $210 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Cambridge – the largest ever single donation to a British university. This prestigious scholarship is awarded to outstanding applicants from countries outside the United Kingdom to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree in any subject at the University of Cambridge. The selection committee is prepared to continue their mission of endorsing the next generation of national scholars. “As we begin planning for our third year, I am grateful for the participation of so many distinguished and accomplished members,” says Sayandeb Basu. “I also continue to be impressed by the level of academic excellence and leadership of USF’s scholarship nominees.”

Dr. James D’Emilio, Associate Professor of Humanities, USF, Marshall Scholar Dr. Darlene DeMarie, Associate Professor of Educational Psychology, USF, Fulbright Faculty Advisor, President of the Mid-Florida Chapter of the Fulbright Association, Faculty Fulbright Scholar to South Africa Judge Raymond Gross, Florida 6th Circuit Court (ret.), Board Member of the USF Foundation Dr. Elizabeth HordgeFreeman, Associate Professor of Sociology, USF, Faculty Fulbright Scholar to Brazil Mr. Daniel Ruth, Columnist, Tampa Bay Times, Visiting Professor of Practice, USF, Honors College, Pulitzer Prize Winner Ms. Lauren Shumate, Associate, Gunster Corporate Law Firm, Fulbright U.S. Student Program English Teaching Assistant to Serbia Mr. Paul Tash, Chairman and CEO of the Tampa Bay Times, Marshall Scholar

First Annual USF Fulbright Day 2018 ON APRIL 6, 2018, USF CELEBRATED ITS FIRST annual Fulbright Day! USF Fulbright Day recognized our university’s continued success and legacy with the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest exchange program in the world – sending U.S. students abroad for up to one year to engage in an independent research project, undertake a master’s degree, or teach English. The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program offers U.S. faculty, administrators, and professionals grants to lecture and/or conduct research in a variety of academic and professional fields. For 2017, USF was named the number one Producer of Fulbright Scholars (faculty) by the Chronicle of Higher Education. With an outstanding 12 faculty members named as scholars, USF doubled its number from the previous year. Also in 2017, USF received ten Fulbright student awards, the most in the state of Florida. Each year, our university hosts a number of foreign Fulbright students and faculty from across the globe to teach and study at USF. USF Fulbright Day was devoted to celebrating these and USF’s previous Fulbright successes, as well as discussing ways to increase awareness about Fulbright programs across campus. Students learned about the application process and listened to the experiences of past Fulbright scholars and students. USF Fulbright Day consisted of two events: a student panel discussion and a networking reception. The panel, titled “My Fulbright Experience,” included: •

Heather Theisen-Gandara, Manager of Outreach and Recruitment for the Institute for International Education (IIE), which manages the Fulbright U.S. Student Program

• • • •

Allyson Hoffman, 2018-2019 Alternate Candidate for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Norway Dr. Holly Donahue Singh, recipient of a 2000-2001 Fulbright Student Research Grant to India, and Honors College instructor at USF Elizabeth Brown, recipient of a 2013-2014 Fulbright Research Grant to Germany Aroushad Tahsini, recipient of a 2015-2016 Fulbright Study Grant to Spain

The panelists discussed their motivations for applying for Fulbright, what they did with their Fulbright award in their host country, and how Fulbright impacted them professionally and personally. After the panel concluded, Betty Castor, former USF President, spoke about the importance of Fulbright on the USF campus and why its focus on international education and exchange is critical to USF’s continued global engagement. She also spoke about her involvement in the Program itself. President Castor served as the Chair of the presidentially-appointed J. William Fulbright Scholarship Board, which oversees the worldwide Fulbright Program. The networking reception following the panel discussion brought together past student and faculty Fulbright recipients, foreign Fulbrighters currently on campus, and faculty and students interested in applying for the Fulbright US Student Program to engage in discussions about their Fulbright experiences or intentions. In all, USF Fulbright Day was a true celebration of the award’s values of international exchange and partnership. The second annual USF Fulbright Day is planned for April 10, 2019.

From left: Dr. Charles Adams, Dean of the Honors College at USF; Heather Theisen-Gandara, Manager of Outreach and Recruitment for International Education at the Institute of International Education (IIE); Allyson Hoffman, 2018-2019 Alternate Candidate for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Norway; Dr. Holly Donahue Singh, recipient of a 2000-2001 Fulbright Student Research Grant to India, and Honors College instructor at USF; Elizabeth Brown, recipient of a 2013-2014 Fulbright Research Grant to Germany; Aroushad Tahsini, recipient of a 2015-2016 Fulbright Study Grant to Spain.



Events and Recognition

ONS Receives 2018 Group Global Achievement Award

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THE OFFICE OF NATIONAL SCHOLARSHIPS (ONS) was awarded the 2018 USF World Group Global Achievement Award for directly impacting the success of University of South Florida (USF) students studying abroad. USF World Global Achievement Awards recognize the work of USF faculty, staff, administrators, and university organizations who are working to raise the global reputation of USF. At USF, an estimated 40 percent of students receive the Pell Grant (awarded to undergraduates who display exceptional financial need) and 60 percent

We are grateful to be recognized for our efforts and look forward to continued collaborations with USF World for the benefit of our students.”


– Dr. Sayandeb Basu

receive financial aid. ONS and Education Abroad Office, which is a department under the umbrella of USF World, have made it their collaborative mission to serve students who may see study abroad opportunities as out of reach due to financial concerns. In the 2017-2018 academic year, ONS worked closely with the Education Abroad Office to begin new outreach efforts, answer study abroad questions regarding scholarships, and connect students with ONS for advising. The overall goal was to increase participation in global experiences, especially for first-generation and low income students. This partnership was created through collaborative staff efforts. In 2017, Lauren Roberts joined ONS through a shared position with the Education Abroad Office. “I was able to assist students more holistically by being familiar with the USF World staff, along with their processes and resources,” she says. “It has been helpful to have allies on campus who advocate for our (ONS) participation in fairs, orientation, and discussions about international ed-

ucation. In return, ONS provides valuable support to students who are hoping to study abroad.” The new partnership between ONS and the Education Abroad Office provides exceptional resources which make a significant impact on students studying abroad. Among the resources offered were Gilman Workshops, during which former study abroad students, Gilman recipients, and Education Abroad representatives assisted attendees with scholarship applications. In addition, ONS worked with Education Abroad to reach students early by providing a joint presentation featuring group activities and answers to study abroad questions in Academic Foundations classes, specifically for first year students. ONS representatives held office hours at the Education Abroad Office and advised on scholarships while mentoring students interested in study abroad opportunities, resulting in 37 Gilman International Scholarship recipients for the 2017-2018 academic year – more than double the number of Gilman Scholars for 2016-2017. The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman Interna-

tional Scholarship is a grant program which enables students who are eligible for the Pell Grant to study or intern abroad. This achievement positioned USF as the top producer of Gilman Scholarship recipients in the state of Florida. Including Gilman recipients, ONS had a total of 64 national scholarship awardees in 2017-18. Many of these scholarships have a global focus and provide opportunities for international education. During the year, ONS advised four Critical Language Scholarship recipients, four Fulbright U.S. Student Program recipients, two Boren Scholarship recipients, three Frost Scholars, and one Clarendon Scholar. These achievements also contributed to the office’s Group Global Achievement Award. ONS will continue these initiatives and looks forward to furthering their partnership with Education Abroad in 2019. “Our office is delighted to be a part of USF’s global engagement initiatives,” says Dr. Sayandeb Basu, Director of ONS. “We are grateful to be recognized for our efforts and look forward to continued collaborations with USF World for the benefit of our students.”

From left: Dr. Roger Brindley, Vice President for USF World; Ms. Lauren Bartshe-Hanlen, Assistant Director for ONS; Ms. Lauren Chambers, Associate Director for ONS; Ms. Lauren Roberts, National Scholarship Advisor for ONS; Ms. Hiwot Zewdie, Founder and President of Visionaries student organization and Student Assistant for ONS; Dr. Sayandeb Basu, Director of ONS; Dr. Judy Genshaft, USF System President.



Alumni Spotlights Alumni Spotlight: Dalia Elmelige


ALIA ELMELIGE, A 2017 GRADUATE of the University of South Florida (USF), is a recipient of a Fulbright U.S. Student Program Study Grant to the United Kingdom. Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, Dalia earned her bachelor’s degrees in International Studies and Anthropology from USF. In addition to being a USF Provost’s Scholar, her many undergraduate accomplishments include an internship at the Carter Center (founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter), and spearheading a humanitarian effort during a study abroad experience in Copenhagen, Denmark. Her desire to help protect displaced and underserved populations strengthened when she was offered the opportunity to translate terrorism videos from Arabic to English as an intern assigned to the “Countering ISIS Propaganda” project at the Carter Center. “The project allowed me to recognize patterns and design a coding sheet which typifies ISIS’s various forms of propaganda,” she says. “This data helps community leaders understand ISIS’s media strategies.” Dalia’s assignment to this project was pivotal for her career decisions. “The videos were so graphic and violent to watch. I knew I needed to make a difference in the world and decided to pursue a career in international public service with a focus on human security,” she says. Her advising relationship with the Office of National Scholarships (ONS) began during her freshman year at USF. “I saw the ONS Open House listed in the Week of Welcome events,” says Dalia. “I met Hiram Ríos (a four-time national scholarship award recipient) at the open house, and he encouraged me to apply for national scholarships - I didn’t know about national scholarships prior to that event.” Dalia’s initial attempts at national scholarship applications were lessons in persistence. “I applied for the Critical Language Scholarship and Fulbright U.K. Summer Institute Program in 2014 – and didn’t win either award,” she says. “In 2015, Ms. Lauren Chambers (ONS Associate Director) worked with me on the application for the U.S. Department of State internship – it was my first national scholarship award.” Dalia also worked closely with ONS on the Fulbright U.S. Student Program application. “They helped me articulate my goals and taught me how to present myself as a professional and purposeful academic,” she says. “The application process was long and arduous at times, but they always provided the necessary support that pushed me to succeed. Ms. Chambers and Dr. Basu (ONS Director) helped me become the driven person I am today.” After graduating from USF, through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Dalia traveled to the United Kingdom to complete a graduate program in Devel26


opment and Security at the University of Bristol. As a Fulbrighter in the U.K., Dalia experienced a new education system and met an array of people from around the world, including others in the Fulbright to the U.K. cohort who are still her friends and colleagues today. She was invited to speak on a panel at the 2018 Fulbright Seminar in Berlin, Germany, and completed her graduate degree dissertation on refugee identity in Greece. In fall 2018, Dalia began serving as a Princeton in Africa Fellow based in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda. Princeton in Africa (PiAf) develops young leaders committed to Africa’s advancement by offering yearlong fellowship opportunities with a variety of organizations that work across the African continent. As a PiAf Fellow, Dalia works for an organization called Resonate - a social enterprise focused on the empowerment of women and girls in East Africa. This goal is achieved through a series of workshops and programs focused on storytelling, professional development, and action leadership. Dalia works with Resonate to ensure that Rwandan women and girls gain skills, resources, and self-confidence to turn opportunities into actionable strategies. “Living and working with women in Rwanda has been an incredibly enlightening experience. My colleagues and the women that participate in Resonate’s confidence building workshops have truly taught me so much about myself and my strength as a woman and a leader. I learn so much every day, and I know that I will emerge from this experience as a stronger person overall,” she says.

Dalia Elmelige smiles in her graduation attire at her commencement at the University of Bristol in 2019.

Alumni Spotlight: Hiram Ríos Hernández


HEN HIRAM RÍOS HERNÁNDEZ first began his classes at USF in 2011, he had no idea that his path would lead him to a career as a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) for the U.S. State Department at the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai, China. Hiram currently serves as a Consular Officer in Shanghai. As a Consular Officer, he advances U.S. Government objectives by protecting U.S. citizens and their interests abroad, strengthening national security, and facilitating legitimate travel. Hiram is a Public Diplomacy-coned FSO and aspires to one day serve as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the East Asia Pacific region. His career journey was shaped in part by the four prestigious national scholarship awards he received while at USF, which allowed him to study Mandarin Chinese and enter into public service as an FSO. Hiram received the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, Boren Scholarship and Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to fund study abroad programs in China to learn Chinese. In his junior year at USF, he received the Pickering Fellowship, which funded his final year of undergraduate study at USF, and his first year of graduate study at Harvard University. In addition to graduate school funding, as a Pickering Fellow, Hiram received professional training via two U.S. State Department internships and placement as an FSO, after graduating with his master’s degree from Harvard. Originally from Bayamón, Puerto Rico, Hiram double majored in Economics and International Studies while at USF. He worked closely with the Office of National Scholarships (ONS) during the application process for each scholarship. “The Office of National Scholarships acted as a hub of knowledge with information on all available scholarship programs, their respective requirements, and profiles of successful applicants,” he says. “Working with ONS advisors allowed me to sequence my courses and carefully select extracurricular activities in a way that fit my narrative and molded me into a stronger applicant. Additionally, their writing workshops helped me polish my personal statements and better understand both my story and my professional trajectory.” He is confident that his achievements were impacted by the wide range of support he received at USF. “I attribute my success in large part to the mentoring I received at the Office of National Scholarships and the Honors College,” says Hiram. “Although I always focused on academics, I never would have found out about the extraordinary opportunities that exist without the invaluable mentorship from the advisors at ONS.”

Another contributing factor to his success in international affairs was his consistent investment in foreign languages. “Being fluent in my native Spanish, as well as Mandarin Chinese, made me a model applicant for my graduate program at Harvard and for a career in diplomacy,” Hiram says. Following his time at USF, he completed a twoyear Master’s degree in Public Policy, International and Global Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. At Harvard, Hiram was a senior editor of the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy, the Chair of the Latinx Caucus at the Harvard Kennedy School, and received distinction for his thesis which explored innovative diplomacy initiatives at the Federal Foreign Office of Germany. In 2020, Hiram will embark on his next diplomatic assignment in Myanmar (Burma), where he will serve as a Public Diplomacy Officer at U.S. Embassy Rangoon.

Hiram Ríos Hernández, a Foreign Service Officer for the Consulate General of the United States, speaks at the Shanghai American Center for Hispanic Heritage month.




From left: Jeannette Myrick, Hiwot Zewdie, Yara Khalil, Kassidy Lee, and Richa Bisht.



MY JOURNEY WITH the Office of National Scholarships (ONS) began in January 2018 as a writing assistant reviewing essays for the Gilman International Scholarship. In the process of understanding the inner workings of the national scholarship process while simultaneously exploring my own personal and professional interests, I decided to apply for a Fulbright Study Grant to complete a master’s degree in the United Kingdom. This decision was met with unyielding support from the ONS advisors, who, from my initial appointment to when I submitted my completed application, were there at every step. Though outsiders only see the final products of months and months of diligent work, it is important to emphasize the process; more specifically, the fact that ONS advisors ensure that each student who walks through their doors becomes a better version of themselves from when they first began their journey with this office. This purposeful approach to fostering student success and achievement is what inspired me to found the student organization, Visionaries. Visionaries is a new student-led initiative that strives to holistically develop students into more competitive national scholarship applicants and civically-conscious human beings. This organization primarily functions as a network of highly-motivated and ambitious students who are in the process of applying or have applied for a national scholarship. These students are visionaries within their own disciplines, spearheading community-based initiatives and embarking on their own research projects. Mem-


bers of the organization learn about new initiatives from their peers while simultaneously getting involved with these projects by sharing relevant resources. One of our members, Yara Khalil, is a team leader in a nutrition education program in the Tampa area community. This program aims to empower elementary school children to make healthier food decisions. She expressed a need for volunteers for the upcoming launch of the program, and was able to rely on Visionaries as support to volunteer and help to promote the initiative. In addition to being a support system both within and outside of the scholarship application process, our organization offers an important space to discuss current issues and events. Visionaries had its first meeting in the Fall of 2018, and we were joined by Honors College professor, Dr. Ulluminair Salim, who facilitated stimulating discussions centered on current events and issues concerning social equity. Through conversations such as these, Visionaries aims to empower members with knowledge that can allow students to be more intentional with their contributions to the national and international community. Though this is our inaugural year as a student organization, we look forward to expanding our influence to the greater University of South Florida community and cultivating competent and competitive members who will thrive in a global environment. In Visionary Success, Hiwot Zewdie Founding President of Visionaries

Hiwot Zewdie, an Honors College senior originally from Bradenton, FL, is pursuing concurrent bachelor degrees in Cell and Molecular Biology.

National Scholarship Recipients

2017 - 2018 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Misha Fini ‘19 Microbiology Research – United States Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Fouad Albadrasawi ‘19 Biomedical Sciences Study – Italy Ronae Baker ‘19 Sociology Study – Costa Rica Jasmine Burnett ‘19 Biomedical Sciences, Public Health Internship – Thailand Daniel Chanelo ‘19 Biomedical Sciences, Public Health Study – Italy Wei Chen ‘20 Environmental Science and Policy, Political Science Study – United Kingdom Saad Chowdhury ‘19 Public Health Study – Vietnam Alexis Coiner ‘20 Cellular and Molecular Biology Study – Italy Maylin Cuello ‘19 Personal Financial Planning Study – Czech Republic Isaac Glener ‘21 Global Business Study – Italy Catherine Gomez ‘19 Studio Art Study – Chile Emily Goodheart ‘19 Biomedical Sciences Study – Italy Sebastian Hermida-Velasquez ‘19 Biomedical Sciences Study – United Kingdom

Jontae Hohn ‘20 Behavioral Healthcare, Studio Art Study – United Kingdom Teddy Horowitz ’19 (declined) Anthropology, Economics Study – Kazakhstan Medjine Jeanty ‘19 Cell and Molecular Biology, French Study – France Killian Kelly ‘19 Biochemistry, Anthropology Internship – Dominican Republic Berkley La Porte ‘18 History, Political Science Study – Ghana Huong Le ‘21 Accounting Study – Italy Paula Leon ‘21 Advertising Study – United Kingdom

Jon Whitman ‘19 Religious Studies, International Studies Study – Japan Marcia Williams ‘20 Biomedical Sciences Study – Italy Nia Williams ’19 (declined) Psychology, Anthropology Study – Greece Nia Williams ‘19 Cell and Molecular Biology Study – Italy Boren Scholarship Carrie Chugg ’19 International Studies Study – Morocco Amber Pirson ‘20 Anthropology, International Studies Study - Thailand CIEE Go Global Grant

Andrea Martin ‘19 Mass Communications, Spanish Study – Costa Rica Grace Mills ’19 (declined) Psychology Study – South Korea Yvonne Nguyen ‘20 Biomedical Sciences Study – Italy

Mabel Proenza ‘21 International Studies, Chinese Study – China Clarendon Scholarship Kayla Li ‘18 Biomedical Sciences Study – United Kingdom

Donald J. Weidner Summer for Undergraduates Program Dana Dammar ‘21 Political Science Law School Prep – Tallahassee, FL Robert Shillinger ‘21 History Law School Prep – Tallahassee, FL Barbora Skopalova ‘18 English, International Studies Law School Prep – Tallahassee, FL Florida Gubernatorial Fellowship Ella Biggins ‘19 Political Science Internship – Tallahassee, FL Ford Foundation Fellowship Program, Honorable Mention Edlin Veras Sociology, Graduate School Research – United States Freeman – ASIA Scholarship Mabel Proenza ‘21 International Studies, Chinese Study – China

Kira Harding ‘18 Cell and Molecular Biology, Teaching – India Lauren Madsen ‘18 Elementary Education Teaching – Malaysia Fund for Education Abroad Jimmy Luu ‘21 Advertising Study – United Kingdom National Institutes of Standards and Technology Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (NIST-SURF) Sophia Abraham ‘19 Mechanical Engineering Internship – Gaithersburg, MD National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP) Wayne Guy Dayhoff Chemistry, Graduate School Research – United States

Frost Scholarship Programme

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP), Honorable Mention

Janine DeBlasi ‘18 Cell and Molecular Biology Study – United Kingdom

Victoria Frazier Geosciences, Graduate School Research – United States

Justin Doherty ‘18 Chemistry Study – United Kingdom

Haley Hanson Ecology, Graduate School Research – United States

Alejandro Navas ’17 ’18 Chemistry, Philosophy, Physics Study – United Kingdom

Joanna Lawler Psychology, Graduate School Research – United States

Fulbright U.K. Summer Institute Program

Brent Summers Geosciences, Graduate School Research – United States

Critical Language Scholarship Mabel Proenza ‘21 International Studies, Chinese Study – China

Noor Aldelamy ‘19 Psychology Study – Jordan

Olivia Sciandra ‘21 (declined) Environmental Microbiology, Anthropology Study – Ecuador

Miriam Friedman ‘20 International Studies Study – Russia

Samuel Steck ‘21 Finance Study – United Kingdom

Teddy Horowitz ‘19 Anthropology, Economics Study – Russia

Zubiya Syed ’20 (declined) Biomedical Science, Psychology Study – Italy

Ivan Pineda ‘19 Quantitative Economics and Econometrics, International Studies Study – China

Manuel Regalado ‘20 Chemical Engineering Study – United Kingdom Fulbright U.S. Student Program

Marco Terron-Barreto ‘21 Biomedical Sciences Study – Ghana

DAAD Research Internship in Science and Engineering

Laura Collins Public Health, Graduate School Research – Mauritius

Olivia Velasco ‘19 Finance, Marketing Study – Italy

Enakshi Sunasee ‘19 Chemical Engineering Internship – Germany

Leslie Gibson ‘16 International Studies Teaching – Belarus

Sachaye Walker ‘19 Secondary Mathematics Education Study – Ghana U N I V E R S I T Y O F S O U T H F LO R I D A


Contact Us: Office of National Scholarships Campus address: ALN 271 Web: usf.edu/ons Phone: 813-974-3087