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Stories of Impact: how the UCF Burnett Honors College is cultivating talent and inspiring excellence.
UCF Burnett Honors College logo
The Acclaimed Knights Wall in the Student Union.
Issue 5 - June 2020
Dean Sheila Pineres with graduates.

Dear BHC Community,

While our world has been significantly altered in the past few months, we still find recognition and celebration of achievement to be the hallmark of this season. With a Burnett Honors College incoming class that ranks among the top 5% of all high school graduates nationally, our students are poised to capitalize on existing talent to reach even higher heights.

Our responsibility to each BHC Scholar begins the day they join us. Their goals are our goals. Their aspirations are our aspirations. Their success is our success. We support our scholars as they explore, grow, and develop into their very best selves. One measure of our joint success is the national and international recognition that BHC Scholars receive through awards, scholarships, and fellowships. With the support of the BHC, the Office of Prestigious Awards, and the UCF community, our scholars are able to aim high, meet their goals, and realize their potential.

Last year, UCF inaugurated its Acclaimed Knights Wall, a showcase for students whose academic achievement and excellence have earned national and international recognition. The Acclaimed Knights Wall is located outside of the Pegasus Ballroom in the Student Union, and it features the names of students who have earned prestigious honors and fellowships. These include Rhodes Scholars, Fulbright Scholars, Truman Scholars, Boren Award winners, NSF Graduate Research Fellowships, Astronaut Scholars and Goldwater Scholars. Winners of prestigious fellowships can receive more than $100,000 in scholarships for life-changing opportunities in research, study abroad, or graduate studies.

Why is it important to recognize these accomplishments? Recognition celebrates what can be accomplished at UCF with the support and resources from the internal and external community, ultimately helping to build our reputation and brand. The Acclaimed Knights Wall is also a testament to the faculty members who energize students and inspire them to dream big and achieve.

On a more personal note, as a Jacob K. Javits Fellow and Fulbright Research Scholar, I can attest to the impact of prestigious awards. The Jacob K. Javits Fellowship allowed me to attend the very best doctoral program in economics and graduate debt-free. It gave me the freedom to research and study topics that fed my intellectual curiosity. Through the Fulbright Research Scholar program I was able to spend three months in Colombia building my research agenda and developing a network of contacts on which I have built my academic research portfolio.

The Acclaimed Knights Wall is both a tribute to past accomplishments and an inspiration for future Knights. The next time you are in the Student Union, stop by the Acclaimed Knights Wall and learn more about our amazing student achievements. We look forward to standing with our students as they dream about their name on the wall and applauding them as their name is etched into it. Their future is our future, and we are honored to be on this wonderful journey with our BHC Scholars.

Sheila Amin Gutiérrez de Piñeres, Ph.D.
Dean, UCF Burnett Honors College

Feature Spotlight
Caroline Schumacher, president and CEO of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, discusses the foundation's work and the lessons she's learned throughout her career.

"This mission is very energizing because the Astronaut Scholars are game changers. Just think about what they can bring our society as they press forward in their research and careers!"

Read more.
Cultivating Talent
Nicholas Grandchamps '15, recipient of the prestigious Rangel Graduate Fellowship.

Astronaut Scholars

Zoe Barbeau '20 is continuing her summer research on Rayleigh-Taylor instability at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and will be attending Stanford to pursue a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering.
Minh-Chau Le '19 is currently attending the University of Florida's M.S./Ph.D. mechanical engineering program. She hopes to one day start a company that develops affordable microfluidic medical devices for point-of-care diagnostics.
Latifah Maasarani '19 is pursuing her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at Duke University, and hopes to start up a biotech company that will work to develop wearable diagnostic devices.

National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellows

Adam Searles '19 hopes to become a professor of marine ecology at a top research institution, conducting ecological research that can inform better conservation and management strategies.
Irene Tanner '20 will be pursuing her computer engineering Ph.D. at UCF this fall, and hopes to work in healthcare informatics or data science.
Elizabeth Wait '19 is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Texas at Austin Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, and hopes to do research at a national laboratory.

Goldwater Scholar

Gary Hoppenworth plans to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science, and hopes to conduct both theoretical and applied research at a national laboratory.

Fulbright Grantee

After teaching English in South Korea, Haley Lehew '19 plans to attend graduate school, pursuing a career at the intersection of education, technology and international relations.

Boren/Critical Language Scholar

Thomas Huang '17 currently works at an HR and media startup in Hong Kong, and is pursuing a career in business and politics.
Want To Know More?
Get involved. Contact Renzo Martorella for more information.