UCF Alumni Honors 30 under 30

Alumni association recognizes 30 young, successful Knights during inaugural awards dinner

30-under-30-awards

By Angie Lewis, ’03

The UCF Alumni Association was proud to host its inaugural 30 under 30 awards dinner Friday, Nov. 20, honoring the outstanding achievements of 30 successful Knights.

Young alumni currently make up one-third of UCF’s alumni population, making them the university’s largest constituent base. The 30 under 30 awards program allows the UCF community to celebrate the achievements of these young alumni and the impact they’ve made in the areas of business, research, leadership, arts, community, education or philanthropy.

Awardees were chosen based on nominations submitted by fellow Knights, friends, families and co-workers.

Many of this year’s recipients — most of whom traveled back to campus from locations across the country — were also recognized on the field during the UCF vs. ECU football game Thursday night, alongside the UCF Alumni Association’s 2015 Distinguished Student Award winner, Yudeysis Cores, and 2015 Michelle Akers Award winner, UCF’s Limbitless Solutions.

The following evening, alumni, families and friends, as well as members of university administration, advancement staff, and academic and volunteer leadership, and the evening’s host, UCF alumnus Todd Woodard, ’95, gathered for the awards celebration, held in the Grand Ballroom of the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.

This year’s 30 under 30 inaugural class included:

Joshua A. Andone, Esq., ’11

Attorney, Hale, Hale & Jacobson
College of Business Administration

Stephanie C. Bolyard, MSENVE12

Graduate Research/Teaching Assistant, UCF
College of Engineering and Computer Science

Keith Brawner, ’08, MSCPE10, PhD13

Adaptive Tutoring Scientist, United States Army Research Laboratory
College of Engineering and Computer Science

Naomi Brownstein, ’08

Assistant Professor, Florida State University College of Medicine
The Burnett Honors College & College of Sciences

Janelle N. Burrowes, ’13

Service Director, Boys & Girls Club
College of Arts and Humanities

Shelby J. Campbell, ’08

Doctor of Audiology, My Family ENT
College of Health and Public Affairs

Amanda N. Castro, ’12

Anchor/Reporter, 41NBC/WMGT
College of Sciences

Chris Castro, ’10

Program Manager, Office of Sustainability & Energy/Senior Energy Advisor to Mayor Buddy Dyer, City of Orlando
College of Undergraduate Studies

Brett R. Chiavari, ’07

Owner & President, BC Restaurant Group
College of Business Administration

Aaron Dietz, MA13, PhD14

Research Associate, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
College of Sciences

Reshad D. Favors, Esq., ’10

Attorney & Fellow, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation/United States Congress
College of Business Administration

Julie Frost, ’12

Performer, Comfort Crew for Military Kids
The Burnett Honors College & College of Arts and Humanities & College of Sciences

Christopher R. Frye, ’13

Physics Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard University
The Burnett Honors College & College of Sciences

Andre Garcia, ’08

Human Factors Engineer, Northrop Grumman Corporation
College of Sciences

Lindsay C. Gartrell, ’10

Corporate Training Manager, The Kessler Collection Inaugural Class
Rosen College of Hospitality Management

Adam J. Giery, ’08, MA11

Principal, Strategos Group
College of Education and Human Performance

Jen Glantz, ’10

Founder and CEO, Bridesmaid for Hire
College of Arts and Humanities & College of Sciences

Kristin Harris, ’11

Associate Celebrity Editor & Talent Relations, Buzzfeed
College of Sciences

Jake Junot, MBA11

Vice President of Global Accounts, C3Research
College of Business Administration

Bridget D. Keefe, ’09, MPA11

Executive Director, Downtown Orlando Partnership
Rosen College of Hospitality Management & College of Health and Public Affairs

Jamile M. Kitnurse, ’08, MBA10, MSBM11

Regional Marketing Manager, Diamond Resorts International
College of Business Administration

Stephanie Ann Koszalka, MSW12

Director of Human Trafficking Victim Services, Florida Abolitionist Inc.
College of Health and Public Affairs

Albert C. Manero, ’12, MSAE14

Lab Director, The Limbitless Project
The Burnett Honors College & College of Engineering and Computer Science

Lauren Niederhiser, ’12

Assistant Project Manager, Walt Disney Imagineering
The Burnett Honors College & College of Engineering and Computer Science

Gregory A. Pearlman Jr., ’08

Financial Advisor, Northwestern Mutual
College of Business Administration

Leigha Audrey Proctor, ’10

Director of Business Development, Transperfect Translations
College of Sciences

Aubree A. Rider, ’10

Co-founder & Owner, The Heroes Group
College of Business Administration

Danny A. Rivera, ’12, MPA14

Special Assistant to Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Orange County Government
College of Health and Public Affairs

Colton J. Tapoler, ’12

Instructional Lead, Florida Virtual School
College of Arts and Humanities & College of Education and Human Performance

Victoria Vighetto, ’10, MNM13

Executive Director, March of Dimes Central Florida Division
College of Health and Public Affairs

Congratulations to all! Go Knights! Charge On!

Black & Gold Gala 2015 — Distinguished Student Award

B+G-Student-Cores
Vanessa Bowman Bershad, ’05 (left), the 2005 recipient of the Distinguished Student Award,
presented this year’s award to Yudeysis Cores.
Yudeysis Cores

The UCF Alumni Association honored Yudeysis Cores with the 2015 Distinguished Student Award at its annual Black & Gold Gala on Oct. 22.

Yudeysis has distinguished herself as an outstanding student and member of the UCF community through diligence, compassion and dedication. Her outstanding credentials reflect superior achievement in academics, co-curricular activities, community involvement and upholding the tenants of the UCF Creed.

Currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in mathematics education in the College of Education and Human Performance, Yudeysis is a Gates Millennium Scholar, and has served on the Education Student College Council and as a judge for the Choices Learning Science Fair. She also was recently selected to serve on the UCF President’s Leadership Council, for which she is excited to serve as a student ambassador and continue to grow as a young professional.

In spring 2013, she conducted an independent research project on how society has created a negative image of the teaching profession, and subsequently presented her work at the Knights Wrights Showcase, before being published in the 2014 Stylus Journal.

After graduation, she would like to teach abroad for a semester to develop her craft as a future teacher and learn about different educational systems across the world. Her dream is to attend Columbia or Vanderbilt University to complete a degree in education policy, and work for a state department of education. She also would like to teach mathematics in a Title I middle school, where she hopes to create positive change with her passion and dedication for teaching.

Yudeysis is motivated and enjoys being able to provide the best experience possible for students in her college who are preparing for what she calls “the most beautiful profession.”

One day, she hopes to create a nonprofit organization to help build schools in underprivileged countries. Her plans are ambitious, but, as she always says, “Just one step at at time, Yudy.”

Learn more about Yudeysis:

Distinguished Student 2014

Donna Perez, '83, '88 (left), the 1982 winner of the Distinguished Student Award, presented this year's award to Cynthia Florentino, '14. (PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
Donna Perez, ’83, ’88 (left), the 1982 winner of the Distinguished Student Award, presented this year’s award to Cynthia Florentino, ’14.
(PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
Cynthia Florentino, ’14 | Google Policy Fellow, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Cynthia Florentino graduated from UCF with a political science degree after dedicating the majority of her time to professional development and extracurricular involvement. Florentino served in a cabinet position for the UCF Student Government Association and enrolled in a federal college program, where she became chair of the President’s Leadership Council her senior year. She currently attends graduate school in Washington, D.C., and continues to pursue her dream of transforming lives with the use of the Internet as a tool for empowerment.

Learn more about Cynthia:

A Knight of Honor

The UCF Alumni Association will present its annual awards during Homecoming week

(PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
(PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)

For the past 34 years, the UCF Alumni Association has been honoring Knights who “Reach for the Stars.” Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing the stories of this year’s recipients, who will be presented with their Knighty statues (as seen above) at the 2014 Black & Gold Gala on Thursday, Oct. 23.

The Distinguished Alumnus/a award is the association’s top award, given to someone who has risen in his/her profession to a national level. The Distinguished Student award is given to a current undergraduate student who is active on campus and in the community, and has displayed leadership and academic success. The Service to UCF award is given to an alumnus/a who has served UCF over a number of years either as a volunteer or lifetime employee. The Professional Achievement award winners are selected by each individual college and are given to alumni who are standouts in their respective fields.

Check out this year’s awardees:

Top Awards

Distinguished Alumna

Lesa Roe, ’91 | Deputy Associate Administrator, NASA

Distinguished Student

Cynthia Florentino, ’14 | Google Policy Fellow, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Service to UCF

Melanie Fernandez, ’86, ’91 | Partner, Cross, Fernandez & Riley LLP

Professional Achievement Awards

The Burnett Honors College

David Huffaker, ’97 | Senior Researcher, Google Inc.

College of Arts and Humanities

Rob Schaer, Ph.D., ’02 | Musician, self-employed

College of Business Administration

Mary Merrell Bailey, J.D., ’85, ’89, ’01, ’07 | Managing Partner, Your Caring Law Firm

College of Education and Human Performance

Pam Stewart, ’85 | Commissioner of Education, Florida Department of Education

College of Engineering and Computer Science

Vinod Philip, ’00 | CEO (Generators Business Segment), Siemens Energy Inc.

College of Health and Public Affairs

Lt. Jean-Marc Chanoine, J.D., ’07 | Navy Judge Advocate Corps, U.S. Navy

College of Medicine

James Norman, M.D., ’82 | Senior Surgeon, Norman Parathyroid Center

College of Nursing

Patricia Celano, ’10 | CNO/Vice President, Florida Hospital Orlando

College of Optics and Photonics (CREOL)

Michael Mielke, Ph.D., ’00, ’03 | Chief Scientist, Raydiance

College of Sciences

Gwen Griffin, ’85 | CEO, Griffin Communications Group

Rosen College of Hospitality Management

Stuart Newmark, ’08 | Executive Vice President/COO, Yedla Management Company


Stay tuned for more about these ambitious Knights:

  • Week of Oct. 27 — Lesa, Cynthia and Melanie
  • Week of Nov. 3 — David, Rob, Mary, Pam, Vinod and Jean-Marc
  • Week of Nov. 10 — James, Patricia, Michael, Gwen and Stuart