Eleven Fla. high school graduates chosen for UF scholarships
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida has named eight Florida high school seniors to the Lombardi Scholars Program and three to the Stamps Scholars Program.
Each year, students who exemplify former UF President John V. Lombardi’s commitment to academic excellence, community service, leadership and public responsibility are selected as recipients of this prestigious award program. Lombardi Scholars receive a scholarship for four years of study at UF. They also receive support for overseas study and leadership experiences.
The Penelope W. And E. Roe Stamps IV Leadership Scholar Awards are made possible by generous funding from the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation. Stamps Scholars are chosen from the same applicant pool as the Lombardi Scholars, and receive the same financial package and participate in the same enrichment activities. The Stamps Foundation seeks to reward exceptional students who exemplify leadership, perseverance, scholarship, service, and innovation; therefore, this is a natural complement to the Lombardi Scholars Program.
Florida high schools were invited to nominate two students, and winners for both programs were selected from 279 nominees and 19 finalists. The Lombardi program is in its 13th year, and the eight additional students will maintain the program at 32 participants. This is the fifth year of the Stamps program.
Students spend five weeks participating in a study program in Merida, the capital of the Yucatan in Mexico, during the summer before they begin at UF. All students will participate in the Honors Program.
The 11 students who have accepted the Lombardi and Stamps scholarships beginning with the 2014-2015 academic year are:
Ariana Agrios is a graduate of Oak Hall School in Gainesville where she served as vice president of Chinese Club as well as her senior class, and was co-captain of the varsity track and field team. Profoundly interested in world affairs, Agrios has studied Spanish, French, Chinese and Ancient Greek, and traveled to Changzhou, China, in 2013 as part of a cultural exchange program. She also participated in a United Nations summer program and was a member of Young Democrats and Youth in Government. Outside of school, Agrios is an instructor and performer with Hogan School of Irish dance and competes at the regional, national and North American levels. Agrios plans to major in international studies with a focus on European politics.
Madison Behm is a graduate of Plantation High School in South Florida where she participated in the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism program and was heavily involved with the school’s chapter of DECA, a leadership program for students of business, finance and marketing. Behm served as Florida’s representative in the International DECA competition for three years, and as president of her high school chapter in senior year. Behm has dedicated many hours to community service, volunteering with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Broward Coalition for the Homeless, and the Mentoring Tomorrow’s Leaders program. She has competed as a varsity and all-star cheerleader and volunteers as a youth coach. During her senior year, Behm was one of two student representatives on the Broward County District Attendance Committee where she worked to increase student attendance throughout the district. She plans to major in public relations in preparation for a career in law.
Mihael Cudic graduated from the International Baccalaureate Program at Atlantic High School in Port Orange where he was debate club president and helped establish a SECME club with the goal of promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education in the community. Cudic also worked with middle school robotics teams in Volusia County and competed at the First Robotics’ South Florida Regional. Cudic completed internships at the United States Department of Agriculture and the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies and has presented his research findings at an international symposium. Cudic will major in electrical engineering and hopes to someday influence public policy in support of science education.
Eliana French earned the International Baccalaureate diploma at Vanguard High School in Ocala where she was also involved in the TV production program and served as captain of the soccer team. French earned national honors for a public service announcement she co-produced and has an interest in documentary filmmaking. Outside of school, French is the alto leader for her choir and head of the Operation Shoebox program in her community. French plans to double major in Spanish and telecommunications with an emphasis in production.
Megan Hirsh is a graduate of Cypress Bay High School where she was captain of the nationally ranked debate team and a four-year varsity cheerleader. Under her leadership, the debate team earned top honors at several national tournaments in Public Forum Debate, including the University of Florida Blue Key invitational round robin. She has been recognized as an AP Scholar with Distinction, a National Speech and Debate Association member of premier distinction, and was a South Florida Silver Knight Award nominee. Hirsh plans to double major in economics and sustainability studies and serve as a member of the Peace Corps before attending graduate school in development economics.
Nicholas Kaufman (Stamps scholar) is a graduate of Nova High School, where he served as captain of the debate team’s extemporaneous speaking squad and tutored students as an active member of the biology, chemistry and math clubs. Kaufman has played piano for 12 years, earning nine consecutive “Superior” rankings in the Piano Solo division of the Florida Federation of Music Clubs. Additionally, he has been recognized as a National AP Scholar and completed a medical internship at the Hahnemann University Hospital. Kaufman has completed university-level computer science and propositional logic courses at the Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science, where he also serves as a teaching assistant. Kaufman plans to major in biomedical engineering and eventually work as a cardiologist in a setting where he can perform research creating new medical technologies.
Rebecca Kiriazes (Stamps scholar) graduated from Trinity Preparatory School in Winter Park where she was recognized as outstanding student in both AP Environmental Science and painting and performed in three TPS musical productions. She relaxes while jamming on her ukulele, playing piano, or swimming laps on the varsity swimming team. An active Girl Scout for more than 10 years, Kiriazes earned the Presidential Volunteer Award and the Girl Scout Gold Award for her many hours of service to the community. During the summer of 2013, Kiriazes interned in the Office of Chief Engineering at NASA Kennedy Space Center testing tether systems for high altitude balloons and plans to major in civil engineering.
Amaleah Mirti graduated from the International Baccalaureate Program at Eastside High School in Gainesville where she grew up and works on an organic family farm, selling produce weekly at two farmers markets. In 2012 she was one of two Florida representatives to be selected to attend the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute in Des Moines, Iowa, where she met with foreign dignitaries and presented a research essay on water sustainability in Ethiopia. She returned to stage an Oxfam Hunger Banquet at her school to raise awareness about local and global food security. In recognition of these accomplishments, the World Food Prize Foundation has selected Mirti for participation in the Borlaug-Ruan Internship Program in China this summer. She has worked at an invasive ecology lab at UF, where she plans to complete a dual degree in chemistry and history.
David Paul Stanley is a graduate of Atlantic Coast High School in Jacksonville where he was a member of the varsity swim team and a participant in Youth Leadership Jacksonville. In 2010 he founded Paul Stanley Services, LLC, which offers commercial/residential landscaping and pressure washing services to the local community. In addition to his work, Stanley trains with a beach lifeguarding squad and has received First Responder and USLA Surf Rescue certification. He plans to double major in finance and information systems in the Heavener School of Business.
Schiley Vertusca grew up in Gonaives, Haiti, and moved to the United States at 14. He graduated from Coconut Creek High School where he served as secretary of the National Honors Society and was a Florida American Legion Boys State participant. Vertusca conducted scientific research at the University of Miami in his sophomore year, where he investigated the regeneration capabilities of the zebra fish. Vertusca plans to major in biomedical engineering in preparation for a career in medicine
Austin Young (Stamps scholar) earned the Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE Diploma) with Distinction from Estero High School, where he was president of the debate team, treasurer of the Student Council and played guitar for the varsity jazz band. Additionally, he served as president of Estero’s chapter of the National Honor Society and vice president for the district. Young co-founded the AICE Student Union at EHS and served as chairman, mentoring younger members of the program and providing opportunities for community service projects. He was elected Senate President at Florida American Legion Boys State and plans to major in political science in pursuit of a career in public policy.