Stories of Impact: how the UCF Burnett Honors College is cultivating talent and inspiring excellence.
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Issue 6 - August 2020
Dear BHC Community,

2020 has proved to be a year of resilience, adaptability, creativity, and innovation. In an ever-changing world where time, space, and distance have been redefined, we are wishing our spring and summer graduating classes well and are now preparing to welcome a new incoming class. Many of you may be wondering, “how are the graduates of the BHC faring in this new world?” In May, Marty and I had the pleasure of congratulating our scholars and handing them their honors medallions in the parking lot of the BHC. While not ideal, this proved to have a huge silver lining: we had the opportunity to talk to each graduate who came and find out about their future plans. What did we learn from this? We have students moving across the country—and the world—to start graduate programs and new jobs. For example, we met more than a dozen graduates headed to the Northwest to work at Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook. Luckily, we gave them BHC alumni license plate holders so they can find each other!

Graduates are also headed to graduate programs, law schools, and medical schools, from DC to Michigan and from New York to California. We also met graduates who are taking a gap year to prepare for medical and other health-related programs. As a result, we will offer a Zoom series on how to maximize your gap year and develop a competitive application. A handful of graduates are looking for employment and were optimistic that they would find the right fit. Over six days, we connected with about 50% of our graduates. It was uplifting and we enjoyed engaging with the graduates (even if it was with masks, gloves, and through the passenger side window).

BHC Scholars are fortunate because, unlike many other institutions, UCF has been a leader in digital learning environments since the 1990s. In this changing environment, at both UCF and BHC, we are creating and innovating, while others are learning and adapting. UCF and BHC are committed to your education and progression to graduation. As you enjoy reading about this year’s graduates, you will see why we want nothing to stand in the way of your progress to your dreams.

On a personal note, this past spring I had the privilege of teaching an honors class. We, like most everyone else in the world, had to pivot quickly to a virtual environment. While this was not what I ever expected or imagined, it was a powerful learning experience. It made me more sensitive to students who may get ill, work, or have other challenges that could prevent them from coming to a class. I wondered about the workshops we have and speakers we bring to campus and how accessible those opportunities are for all our students. We are now recording our workshops, so all scholars have an opportunity to see them—when it works for their schedules and lives. We are confident that whether you are virtual or on campus for the fall, your experience as a BHC Scholar will be filled with engagement and community—the hallmarks of BHC.

This has been a time of reflection and an opportunity to utilize technology to increase access and focus on inclusion when time, space, and distance are a challenge. We are all growing to live in this new world, and we can’t wait to have you grow with us.

Sheila Amin Gutiérrez de Piñeres, Ph.D.
Dean, UCF Burnett Honors College
Cultivating Talent
Isaac Valdiviezo '20, a biology graduate, BHC Scholar, and NSF Graduate Research Fellow, will be entering UCF's conservation and integrative biology Ph.D. program, and plans to become a university researcher.
Maria Bower '20, an environmental engineering grad, BHC Scholar, and Order of Pegasus recipient, will be working to address the opioid epidemic in New York over the next year as part of the National Health Corps.
Suzanne Chaar '20, health sciences alumna and BHC Scholar, is a native of Aleppo, Syria. She's currently applying to medical school, with goals of going on medical mission trips to the Middle East and serving uninsured patients in need of quality healthcare.
Samuel Mikhail '20, biomedical sciences grad, BHC Scholar, and Order of Pegasus recipient, plans to pursue a career in academic medicine, teaching the next generation of healthcare leaders.
Giorgi Beruashvili '20, BHC Scholar, political science grad, and Order of Pegasus recipient, served in student government and on UCF's President's Leadership Council, and conducted research on the Russo-Georgian War and global terrorism. He plans to eventually work in HR or in university administration.
Brenna Maginness '20, theatre design and technology alumna and BHC Scholar, wrote an Honors Undergraduate Thesis on lesbian representation in theatre. She will be attending the University of the Arts in London to earn a master's degree in fashion culture and histories, with the goal of becoming a museum curator.
Want To Know More?
Get involved. Contact Renzo Martorella for more information.
UCF Burnett Honors College
12778 Aquarius Agora Dr.
Orlando, FL 32816

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