Black & Gold Gala 2015 — Michelle Akers Award

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UCF President John Hitt presented the UCF Alumni Association’s 2015 Michelle Akers Award to Limbitless Solutions’ executive director, Albert Manero, and the rest of his team.
Limbitless Solutions

The UCF Alumni Association honored Limbitless Solutions with its 2015 Michelle Akers Award at the annual Black & Gold Gala on Oct. 22.

Limbitless Solutions, which manufactures personalized bionics and solutions for disabilities, is a nonprofit organization founded by UCF students, which is dedicated to building a generation of innovators who use their skills and passion to improve the world around them.

This is the first time the Michelle Akers Award has been presented to students, and to a group. It’s the university’s highest award given to alumni who have brought international, positive attention to UCF through their accomplishments.

Previous winners include:

  • Olympic gold-medalist volleyball player Phil Dalhausser, ’02 (2009)
  • “Curb Your Enthusiasm” actress Cheryl Hines, ’90 (2008)
  • Miss America 2004 Ericka Dunlap, ’05 (2004)
  • “Blair Witch Project” creators, Robin Cowie, ’93; Gregg Hale, ’95; Mike Monello, ’92; Dan Myrick, ’93; and Ed Sanchez, ’93 (1999)
  • 1991 & 1999 Women’s World Cup champion soccer player Michelle Akers, ’89 (1996)

The alumni association recognized the Limbitless Solutions team for its life-changing, innovative solutions it has provided to children.

With the help of actor Robert Downey Jr., they presented then 6-year-old Alex Pring with an “Iron Man”-themed bionic arm — a video (view in “Other Videos” below) that has more than 53 million views. And, the team’s work has brought about media opportunities in more than 150 countries, totaling more than three billion impressions on social and conventional media for Limbitless Solutions and UCF.

The team plans to bring 75 bionic limbs, and books, to displaced Syrian children this year, but that’s just the beginning of what they hope will be a broad-based, global, humanitarian effort.

Learn more about Limbitless Solutions:

Other Videos:



Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Aug. 17, 2015

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Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. Knights on the Mall tailgating spots are up for grabs, as the new reservation system went live today for UCF’s first home game against FIU on Sept. 3.
  2. And, speaking of football, the Knights’ former QB Blake Bortles made his sophomore debut in Friday’s preseason game against the Steelers, helping to lead the Jags to a 23-21 victory!
  3. Alumna Jennifer Hamilton, ’14, turned her capstone project into multi-million-dollar Sleep/EEG Center for Nemours Children’s Hospital.
  4. Central Florida’s king of hummus, UCF student Jesse Wolfe, landed a deal with Publix Super Markets, which will now carry his new line of salad dressings.
  5. U.S. veterans are sharing personal stories about their service experiences to be preserved for future generations.

Alumna’s Capstone Project Turns into Reality at Nemours

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Call it a case of excellent timing.

When executive health services administration student Jennifer Hamilton, ’14, was provided with the final assignment for her capstone course, she knew exactly what she was going to do.

The assignment was to create a research project that would build upon all of the prior concepts and coursework covered in the executive HSA program. As luck would have it, Hamilton, who is the director of clinical support for Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, had just been asked to evaluate the cost of a new epilepsy unit for the hospital.

“I said to my teammates, ‘Hey, I was just assigned this [evaluation],” she explains. “I have the info at my fingertips. And that was how we decided.”

What started off as a task for work ended up as the final capstone project for Hamilton and her classmates, Chau Duong and Lori Galanida. That capstone project, in turn, became the business proposal for Nemours’ newest unit — the Sleep/EEG Center — which officially opened on July 17.

“It was pride and joy — so exciting,” Hamilton says. “I’m not a clinician, so everyone was saying, ‘Why is she so interested?’ But, it was a really big deal.”

The Sleep/EEG Center is not only a big deal for Hamilton and her teammates, but it’s a big deal for Nemours as well as its patients. The initial scope of the project was to determine the strategy for building an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit. As the trio delved deeper into their research, they discovered that the hospital didn’t just need an epilepsy unit. Physicians were also conducting electroencephalogram tests as well as sleep studies, and they were doing their work in a small, tucked-away area within the hospital with limited growth potential. What they needed was a new unit, within the ambulatory side of the facility that would be more accessible to patients and provide increased capability to service patients with neurological and/or sleep disorders.

“It wasn’t just ease of access,” Hamilton explains. “Some of these kids — sometimes just by the nature of their medical condition — were at risk of coding, and, in a few situations, did code. Prior to the Sleep Lab moving to the downtown facility, you would have to call 911, stabilize them, then take them to the emergency room. This served as the impetus for moving that service to the hospital, but we encountered other ramifications resulting from this location change.”

They also found that the hospital was not being reimbursed as much because the procedures are typically intended to be performed in an outpatient setting, as opposed to what was now considered an inpatient setting.

The project team, having researched cost benefit, proposed that the hospital combine EEG and sleep services in a shared setting. With that idea in mind, the executive HSA students decided to pitch their idea to executives at Nemours.

Hamilton says it’s been rewarding to see their work turn into a world-class center that will serve the thousands of children in Central Florida who are in need of the services this unit can provide. She credits her teammates, as well as the executive HSA program, for helping her turn her class project into a reality.

“It was worth taking those courses and being a part of the program.”

This story was posted Aug. 4, 2015, on the UCF College of Health and Public Affairs website. It has been slightly edited in accordance with AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original article. 

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — June 1, 2015

GoBabyGo

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. Head Coach George O’Leary will speak about the upcoming football season during a Downtown Huddle from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3, at the Cheyenne Saloon on Church Street.
  2. UCF Athletics will also hold its annual Ladies Football Clinic on Thursday, June 4, from 7-9 p.m.
  3. To help children with mobility challenges, UCF faculty members retrofitted motorized toy cars during a GoBabyGo event on May 29 (see photo above).
  4. Twenty-two UCF Chamber Singers will share the stage with the Rolling Stones next week, when the band hits the Citrus Bowl as part of its Zip Code tour.
  5. The American Athletic Conference released two kickoff times for the UCF football season. The Knights take on Furman Saturday, Sept. 19, at 6 p.m. (also Family Weekend) and East Carolina Thursday, Nov. 19, at 7:30 p.m.

UCF Alumna Crowned First Miss Florida World America 2015

(Photo: Central Florida Future/Courtesy Barón DaParré)
Kailyn Perez, ’13, dancing during the talent portion of a pageant
(Photo: Central Florida Future/Courtesy Barón DaParré)

By Marina Guerges
Central Florida Future

Most shoppers enter a mall to window shop, try on clothing or purchase items. UCF alumna Kailyn Perez, however, received a little more than what she bargained for.

In February 2013, Perez, a UCF student at the time, and her sister entered a Bloomingdale’s with the intention of trying on sunglasses. They instead walked out with a career-changing recommendation for Perez.

Jewelry consultant Peter Morales spotted Perez in the store and immediately complimented her beauty, asking her if she had ever modeled. He then suggested she try out for a beauty pageant, and little did Perez know what she thought was a simple compliment could ultimately lead her to being crowned as the first-ever Miss Florida World America 2015 in April.

Morales, who has been working as a fashion designer for more than 20 years, said when he saw Perez, he knew that “this is a girl who is not going to be overseen.”

He suggested Perez attend a preliminary round for Miss Florida USA, which was being held in Kissimmee, and offered to design her pageant dress because he specializes mostly in beauty pageant gowns and couture dresses.

Although she never thought about entering a beauty pageant, Perez said she didn’t want to miss what could be a great opportunity.

“Kailyn has the ability to communicate through a way of talking and projecting herself that is very unique and very powerful,” Morales said. “Everything she does, she does with a big smile.”

When Perez decided to take part in the pageant, her ambitions, enthusiasm and personality shined through. She eventually won runner-up and gained a new perspective on how she could connect her personal goals to the pageant world.

“Through pageants, I realized I can reach people and have an influence in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise,” she said. “I have that drive to make a change in my community and be able to spread a message of positivity to young women and to people in general.”

Although she didn’t win Miss Florida USA, she realized how inspired she became while experiencing the pageant world.

Last March, with the help of Morales, Perez decided to apply to a newly formed pageant, Miss Florida World America 2015.

She used her innate flair in public speaking, her personal experiences and her dance background to showcase her talent and make her way to the top.

Growing up in a single-parent household, Perez gained a special appreciation for her family.

“I have the most amazing mom and family in the whole world,” Perez said. “I couldn’t imagine not having that kind of support in my life. I couldn’t imagine that for children.”

Working with organizations such as A Kid’s Place and the Faine House, Perez focuses her platform on foster youth and providing homes, education and life-long skills to children in need.

The Tampa native started at UCF in 2010, majoring in political science, while also working as a freelance model.

During her time at UCF, Perez was involved in the Student Government Association, taking on the roles of senate representative and chair of the Elections and Appointments Committee.

With the dedication toward different outlets in college, Perez was unsure about the path she would take after graduation.

After graduating in December 2013, Perez was accepted to law schools in and out of state, but decided she wanted to model full time and pursue a business endeavour. She will, however, go back to that dream as she pursues a corporate and Internet law degree at Stetson University this fall.

“If you have a goal or dream, and you’re not sure exactly the plan, take advantage of every opportunity, especially at UCF.”

In the intermin, Perez has launched a start-up company called Sociover, which focuses on teaching proper social media etiquette and offers services that can revamp social sites.

“Through pageants, I realized what a source social media is,” she said. “I use it to promote my platform and my personal brand.”

While continuing to work on her company and modeling, Perez plans on fulfilling more accomplishments in the pageant world. On July 3, she will compete against 50 other young women in Washington, D.C., for the chance to be crowned Miss World America 2015. The winner will represent the country at the esteemed Miss World 2015 pageant.

“I hope I can represent Florida well,” Perez said. “I hope I can represent our school in the best way possible.”

While some students go into college without the vision of what their career path will look like, Perez says it’s important to soak in every opportunity that is presented.

“If you have a goal or dream, and you’re not sure exactly the plan, take advantage of every opportunity, especially at UCF,” Perez said. “As long as there is some kind of good that can come from it, go for it because you never know where the opportunity can lead you to one day.”

This article appeared in the Central Florida Future online. It has been slightly edited for style. See original story.

Orlando REP and UCF Theatre Offer Summer Camps on Campus

CampWebBannerUCF

Orlando Repertory Theatre, in partnership with UCF, announces its popular summer camps held on the UCF campus.  Designed to foster self-confidence, creative thinking, collaboration and trust through the medium of performing arts, The REP’s UCF camps are held in the state of the art Performing Arts Center.

There are 25 camps for rising 1st through 10th  grade students, including creative dramatics and musical theatre camps. After Care is available. Advanced training camps in Acting or Musical Theatre are also available for rising 9th – to graduating 12th grade students. Weekly camps are June 15 to August 7.  All camps are taught by professional Teaching Artists.

More Info

Summer Camps
Orlando REP (Click on: Youth Academy -> Summer -> Summer Camps @ UCF)

Additional camps are available at The REP’s Loch Haven location and in downtown Celebration. For questions, please contact Ashley Bigge in The REP’s Youth Academy at [email protected] or 407.896.7365, ext. 219.

Knight-Thon Slays $500K Goal for Local Children’s Hospitals

(Photo: Paige Wilson, Central Florida Future)
(Photo: Paige Wilson, Central Florida Future)

Between noon on March 28 and 8 a.m. on March 29, 2015, more than 1,200 students from more than 70 organizations participated in UCF’s annual Knight-Thon, a 20-hour dance marathon that benefits Greater Orlando Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, at the CFE Arena. While this year’s goal was $500,000, Knights moved and grooved their way to more than $688,000 “For the Kids!”

Fun facts about Knight-Thon:

  • Students raise funds throughout the entire year leading up to each Knight-Thon.
  • This year’s theme was “Dare to Make a Difference.”
  • The purpose of standing/dancing for 20 hours is so students can gain a greater appreciation and understanding of the pain, suffering and struggles that the young hospital patients go through every day.
  • Every hour on the hour, students partake in a “Morale” dance, taking them out of their comfort zones and into the dance marathon spirit.
  • To inspire students to remain standing during the 20 hours, miracle children are welcomed on stage alongside their families, to share their courageous stories of diagnosis, defeat and new-found hope.

More Info

View videos and photos from this year’s event, as well as from previous years.

Little Legacy

First scholarship in memory of alumna’s daughter awarded to nursing student

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Marlie Dodson dreamed of someday being a UCF cheerleader and a nurse. But, sadly, those dreams would never be realized, as Marlie succumbed to a lifelong battle with brain cancer on Dec. 31, 2011. Because her generous spirit made such an impact on those who cared for her while she was in the hospital, Marlie’s mom, Sarah Dodson, ’01, knew that the UCF College of Nursing would be a perfect home for Marlie’s memory. The Marlie Kai Dodson Memorial Endowed Scholarship supports future caregivers, and was awarded for the first time this year to UCF nursing student Bryce Catarelli.

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