Class of 2021
Maya Barrett: Barrett, a National Hispanic Scholar and AP Scholar, is a senior in the International Baccalaureate Program at T.R. Robinson High School in Tampa, Florida where she serves as president of the school orchestra and mentors young women as president of the Ophelia Club. Barrett is active in her community, playing cello in the Tampa Metropolitan Youth Orchestra and serving as the youngest member on the board of directors for Community Tampa Bay, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting discrimination.
Phebe Brocke: Brocke is an AP Scholar with Honor and a senior at Paul J. Hagerty High School in Oviedo, Florida where she is an officer in several honor societies, the Key Club, and the school yearbook. She volunteers at Winter Park Memorial Hospital and plans to major in Health Sciences and earn a certificate in Medical Anthropology at UF in preparation for a career as Chief Medical Officer at a nonprofit health organization.
Rachel Cathey: Cathey is a senior at Niceville High School where she has served as class vice president since her freshman year and is the captain of the track & field team. Cathey is a leader in her school’s chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award for her commitment to community service. She plans to follow a pre-medical track in order to become a procedural dermatologist.
Chase Cleveland: Cleveland is a senior at Fort Walton Beach High School where he has been recognized as a scholar-athlete. He is captain of the football and wrestling teams and is a two-time All American cheerleader. Off the field, Cleveland has competed in science fairs at the state, regional, and national level for the past seven years and was named a finalist in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. He plans to major in chemical engineering with a goal of improving water purification for people around the world.
Belle LaMontagne: LaMontagne, a National Hispanic Scholar, is a senior at J.P. Taravella High School in Coral Springs, Florida. A servant-leader in her community, she has earned over 800 service hours, served on the city’s steering committee as a member of Teen Political Forum, and interned with a city commissioner. At Taravella, LaMontagne is captain of the Public Forum Debate Squad and vice president of the nationally ranked Debate Team. LaMontagne plans on majoring in political science and minoring in nonprofit organizational leadership before earning a law degree and becoming a local government official.
Logan Locascio: A National Merit Finalist and AP Scholar, Locascio is a senior in the Cambridge program at Gainesville High School where he leads the March of Dimes Club and serves as captain of the cross country and track teams. A four-time state qualifier in cross country, he was named 2016 Alachua County Runner of the Year. A research assistant at the Florida Museum of Natural History, Locascio published an article in Florida Entomologist and presented a poster at the Lepidopterists’ Society’s international conference. He plans to pursue a pre-medical track at UF where he will continue research in biology, nutrition, and genetics.
Zach Savitsky: Savitsky is a senior at Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg, Florida where he is International Student Ambassador and a member of the Honor Council. He leads social media communications for his school’s Relay for Life team, helping to raise thousands of dollars in support of the American Cancer Society. Savitsky is interested in science and communications and plans an interdisciplinary approach to his studies at UF.
Kate Welz: Welz is a senior in the International Baccalaureate program at Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach, Florida where she is active in several honor societies and is captain of the varsity lacrosse team. As a member of the Model United Nations club, Welz has competed in conferences at UF and the University of Central Florida where she was awarded ‘Best Position Paper’ in 2016. She plans to plans to major in biology before earning a law degree in order to practice international environmental law.
Nathan Barkdull: Barkdull is a senior and International Baccalaureate diploma candidate at Winter Park High School. He is an active member of the FIRST Robotics Competition team and his school and county Quiz Bowl teams, winning first place at Lockheed Martin’s STEM Bowl. Barkdull has completed laser induced breakdown spectroscopy research at the University of Central Florida, applying the technique to
environmental monitoring efforts in order to detect heavy metal contamination in soil samples. He plans on majoring in materials science engineering to pursue research in biomaterials.
Stephen Chapman: Chapman is a high school senior at Paul J. Hagerty High school in Oviedo, Florida where he served as captain of the Debate Team and president of the National Honor Society. Active in his community, Chapman served as a student volunteer on the Seminole County Public School District Board and has volunteered hundreds of hours in the audio-visual department of his church. He developed an interest in technology and business as an intern with the University of Central Florida’s Business Incubator Program, and plans to major in computer engineering.
Gabriela Sullivan: Sullivan is a senior in the International Baccalaureate Program at Vanguard High School in Ocala, Florida where she is captain of the varsity tennis team and co-founder of the Art Club. She has been active with the Florida 4-H State Council since middle school and serves as the state president this year. She is frequent science fair competitor, earning second place at the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair and qualifying for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and the UF JSEHS STEM Research Speaker Competition. Sullivan plans to major in environmental science.
Class of 2020 Scholar Bios
Thomas Carbone: Carbone is a senior at Key West High School where he has been recognized for his academic achievements as an AP Scholar and officer of the National Honor Society. Carbone is captain of his school swim team, a record-holder in numerous events, and a competitor at the state level. His diving ventures on local reefs sparked his research to improve coral tolerance to negatively changing water conditions. He also serves Marching Band Captain, and as the principle tenor saxophone player in the Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band. Carbone plans to pursue education in foreign affairs, with a concentration in international environmental law.
Samuel Goldstein: Goldstein will graduate as valedictorian of Oviedo High School in May 2016. He has been recognized as an Eagle Scout, National AP scholar, Business Professionals of America Global Marketing National Finalist, and SECME regional math competition winner. Goldstein participated in the UF Student Science Training Program in summer 2015 where he conducted pharmaceutical research and attended science seminars. He also conducted condensed matter physics and artificial intelligence research at UCF as a member of UCF Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. Goldstein plans to double major in Physics and Electrical Engineering in preparation for a career in academia or industry.
Gabriela Gonzalez: Gonzalez is a senior at Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines where she serves as captain of the swim and water polo teams and president and founder of the PAWS Animal Club. She has been recognized as “A Voice for Animals” by the Humane Education Network for her many hours of service with PAWS, at the Humane Society of Broward County, and at ZooMiami’s Conservation Teen Scientist Program. Gonzalez plans to dedicate her life to the preservation of endangered species and will follow a pre-veterinary track at the University of Florida.
Sarah Janetzke: Janetzke is a senior in the visual and performing arts magnet program at Dr. Philips High School in Orlando where she serves as president of the National Art Honor Society and secretary of the marching band. An AP Scholar with Distinction, Janetzke is also a member of the National Honor Society and the ACE (architecture, construction, and engineering) program at her school. She teaches children’s art classes in her community and plans to minor in studio art at UF while majoring in biomedical engineering.
Jessica Kian: A National Merit Finalist, Kian is a senior at A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach. Deeply committed to sustainability and hunger relief, Kian is president of her school’s Environmental Club and volunteers at the Urban Growers Community Farm where she works to help bring fresh fruits and vegetables to a neighborhood designated as a food desert. She was also awarded a Sustainable Summer photography fellowship to travel to Costa Rica to document her experiences at a sustainable rancho. Kian plans to double major in horticulture and sustainability before serving in the Peace Corps and pursuing a career in non-profit hunger relief with an emphasis in sustainable agricultural practices.
Aaron Rosenfeld: Rosenfeld, a National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar and AP Scholar with Distinction, is a senior at School for Advanced Studies (SAS) in Miami and a full-time dual enrollment student at Miami Dade College. He conducted research in genetics in UF’s Student Science Training Program during the summer of 2015 and currently conducts research on allogeneic stem cell therapies as a volunteer at the University of Miami’s Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute. Rosenfeld is passionate about advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality, having co-founded the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) chapter in Miami Beach to provide a safe place for people to learn from the collective experiences of the community. Rosenfeld plans to continue his involvement in advocating for LGBT equality through UF’s Pride Student Union. He intends to major in biochemistry, and plans on becoming a medical professional working with underserved and at risk populations.
Bridget Sullivan: Sullivan is an AP Scholar with Distinction and the salutatorian of East River High School in Orlando. She has diverse interests in medical science, agriculture, and entrepreneurship and completed a month-long internship at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute during the summer of 2015. Sullivan serves as vice-president of her school’s FFA (Future Farmers of America) and was named state champion in the youth speech contest for her speech about antibiotic resistance at the Florida FFA State Convention. Sullivan has been named the three-time “Grand Champion Rabbit Exhibitor” at the Central Florida Fair with two consecutive “Best in Show” awards. She plans to study Food and Nutritional Sciences at UF.
Tomasz Wiercioch: Wiercioch is a member of the International Baccalaureate program at Palm Harbor University High School where he is president of the Robotics Club. He is actively involved in multiple honor societies including Mu Alpha Theta, National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society, and National Science Honor Society and has been a member of the cross country and track and field teams throughout high school. As captain of the First Tech Challenge Team 516 (building, designing, programming, and operating robots), Wiercoich led the team to the state championship in each of the past four years. A dual citizen of the United States and Poland, Wiercioch plans to major in electrical engineering.Stamps Scholars
Molly Brennan: Brennan is a senior at F. W. Buchholz High School in Gainesville, Florida where she has served as class president for all four years of high school. This year she and her student government committee raised $5,000 for Honor Flight, a non-profit organization that sends veterans to the WWII Memorial in Washington, DC. In addition to student government, Brennan plays on the junior varsity soccer team and is an active member of the National Honor Society, National Math Honor Society, and National Spanish Honor Society. In November 2015, Molly participated in the Buddy Davis Essay Competition, and in February 2016, her essay on sexism and rape culture was published in The Gainesville Sun. Brennan plans to major in political science.
Lucas James: James is National Merit Finalist and a National Hispanic Merit winner at The North Broward Preparatory School in Coconut Creek, FL. He serves as Vice-President of the National Honor Society, Treasurer of the Spanish National Honor Society, and Treasurer of the Sparkle Effect, an organization centered on teaching dance and cheerleading classes to mentally and physically handicapped youth. Highly involved in the performing arts, James is an All-State and All-County bassoonist as well as the Principal Bassoon in the Florida Youth Orchestra, Lead Alto Saxophone in his school's jazz band, and Woodwind Captain of his school's Marching Band. James plans on completing a dual degree in biomedical engineering and bassoon performance with the long-term goal of conducting research in medical technology to improve the design of cochlear implants.
Julia Paoli: Paoli is a senior at Trinity Preparatory School in Winter Park where she is Student Body Vice President, president of the National French Honor Society, and member of the varsity diving team. Paoli has written a blog on virology for the journal Nature since her freshman year on virology and as a result has been invited to attend and speak at science conferences featured in several articles. In addition to virology, Paoli is captivated by learning languages and the study and enjoyment of classical music. She is a violinist in her school orchestra and a community youth orchestra and gives private lessons. Paoli plans to earn dual degrees in microbiology and French with the aspiration to become a virologist.
Class of 2019 Scholar Bios
Miranda Craghead was named valedictorian of her senior class at Jupiter Senior High School, where she was founder and president of the Future Scientists of JHS. A servant leader in her school and community, Craghead initiated an annual donation drive in support of local animal shelters, serves as a group leader at her church, and volunteers as a tutor. An AP Scholar, she completed a summer internship at the Max Planck Institute as well as an environmental fellowship at Florida Atlantic University. She plans to major in chemical engineering with the ultimate goal of earning a PhD.
Xavier Edwards is a graduate of Westland John Glenn High School in suburban Detroit where he founded Bullying Ends with Me, a school-wide bullying prevention program. He was also an active member of the TED-Ed Club, and produced his own TED talk on reptiles featured on the TED blog. Edwards runs a business rescuing unwanted or neglected exotic animals and will major in zoology in preparation for a career as a herpetologist.
Giovana Giraldo is a graduate of The Benjamin School in Palm Beach Gardens where she served as captain of the varsity soccer team for the past two years. She is looking forward to playing soccer at UF as a member of the women’s soccer team. Giraldo enjoys sharing her love of sport as a volunteer at a children’s camp where she serves as a coach and mentor. She plans to major in health science tracking toward a career in physical therapy specializing in sports-related injuries.
Gillian Mangan of Ocala was diagnosed with epilepsy at age fifteen. She has documented her story as well as those of other epileptics through The Faces Project, an award-winning epilepsy awareness blog she created and manages. Mangan is a graduate Forest High School in Ocala where she was president of Government Club, a National Honor Society executive board member, and four-year varsity volleyball player. She was elected Speaker of the House from the 300 participants at Florida’s Girls State in 2014, and as Speaker facilitated completion of House legislation, a first in eight years of Girl’s State. She plans to major in English.
Matthew Shinego of Jacksonville, FL is a National Merit Finalist and International Baccalaureate diploma recipient of Stanton College Preparatory School. He was captain of the Stanton varsity lacrosse team, a founding member of the Stanton Cricket Club, and a frequent volunteer with Habitat for Humanity Jacksonville. Shinego has conducted research on sharks, rays, and skates through the Jacksonville Zoo and plans to continue studying marine life and environments at UF as an environmental engineering or marine science major.
Bailey Underill was named valedictorian of the senior class at Cocoa Beach Jr/Sr High School. Active in her school and community, Underill was president of the Calculus Tutoring Club, served on the International Baccalaureate Student Advisory Board, and as a senator in the Brevard County Model Student Senate. She is also a professional photographer and has displayed her work at the Maxwell C. King Center in Melbourne, FL. Underill enjoys reading and travel and plans to major in philosophy and women’s studies.
Madison Wolk graduated from Melbourne High School, where she was president of Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT), co-captain of the varsity tennis team, and vice-president of the National Honor Society. As president of SWAT, Wolk led the group in a series of presentations to the commission that helped to pass resolutions banning the sale of candy-flavored tobacco products in Brevard County. An aspiring filmmaker, Wolk will major in telecommunication with an emphasis in production.
Alexander Duran is an International Baccalaureate diploma recipient from Coral Gables Senior High School in Miami, where he served as president of the National Honor Society, secretary of student council, and head videographer of his school news site, CavsConnect. An AP Scholar with Distinction and Miami Herald Silver Knight Nominee, Duran has authored a self-published collaborative cookbook that aims to raise money for survivor care for victims of human trafficking. In addition to his community involvement, Duran was on the varsity tennis team for four years and the varsity cross country team for two years. He plans to major in advertising and continue his awareness campaign on human trafficking while in college.
Trey LaNasa graduated from Fort Walton Beach High School where he was student body president and captain of the cross country, track, and quiz bowl academic teams. LaNasa was one of twelve national finalists for the Wendy’s High School Heisman award, and was named the Florida High School Athletic Association’s male Scholar-Athlete of the year for 2015. Outside of school, LaNasa accumulated over 700 community service hours and has earned the rank of Eagle Scout. He will compete on UF’s cross country and track teams, and intends to major in industrial systems engineering.
Ziqi Wang, an AP Scholar with Distinction, graduated from at the School for Advanced Studies Wolfson in downtown Miami where she is dual-enrolled at Miami Dade College. She participated in the 2014 HHMI High School Scholars Research Program during which she investigated the effect of chemotherapeutic drugs on ovarian and breast cancer cell lines. Wang is actively involved in her school and community, serving as an officer in the Student Government Association, the Asian Culture Club, and the Math Club and volunteering as a teacher through Breakthrough Miami. She will major in biochemistry with the intent to pursue a career in medicine and medical research.
Class of 2018 Scholar Bios
Ariana Agrios is a graduate of Oak Hall School in Gainesville, Florida 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, Florida in June, 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. Megan 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 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 twelve 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 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 over ten 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 at UF.
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 farmer’s 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 age fourteen. 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 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 cofounded 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.