More Students Winning Prestigious Scholarships at the University of Florida

Published: May 2nd, 2003

Category: Memos

Sheila K. Dickison, Associate Provost

The University of Florida’s efforts towards increasing the number of student winners of national prestigious scholarships and awards have been particularly successful this year, as a record number of students have been selected for national recognition at UF.

Provost David Colburn cites undergraduate research conducted individually and through the University Scholars Program as one of the reasons for such success. “By partnering students one-on-one with a faculty member to conduct research, the University Scholars Program provides a great opportunity for challenging the student to excel,” Colburn said. Other UF efforts include a one-credit course entitled Professional Development Strategies to assist students in preparing their portfolios and applications, individual meetings with awards advisors, and information sessions given to students about the scholarships.

For several of the awards, there are various levels of competition including earning the nomination from the University of Florida. The 2003 Truman, Goldwater, and Udall scholarship winners had to compete at the university level and were then forwarded on to regional or national levels of competition. For example, Teresa Porter, the sole winner of a Truman Scholarship awarded in Florida, traveled to Atlanta for a round of regional interviews. A junior political science and sociology double-major from St. Augustine, Porter will receive $30,000 in scholarship funds for her senior year and for graduate school for her work towards ending juvenile delinquency.

Goldwater winners Robert Abel and Anup Patel competed with more than 1,000 other mathematics, science, and engineering sophomores and juniors nationally who intend to pursue graduate work in those fields to earn the $7500 scholarship. A native of Davie, Abel is a junior mathematics major who intends to pursue a Ph.D. in theoretical or computational chemistry who has been conducting research with the Quantum Theory Project. Patel is junior double-majoring in biochemistry and molecular genetics and economics from Altamonte Springs, and he hopes to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. specializing in molecular genetics. Udall winner James Argento will receive $5000 for the environmental scholarship, and he is a junior environmental science major in the College of Natural Resources and Environment from Hollywood.

Other prestigious scholarships require direct application to the foundations, and the University of Florida had two alumni win these awards. The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans honored Alex Hooper as one of its 30 national winners of a $20,000 maintenance scholarship plus 50% of tuition at a graduate program. Hooper, who graduated with three undergraduate degrees from UF: economics with highest honors, mathematics with high honors, and statistics with honors in 2000, will be attending Harvard Law School in the fall. The Gates Cambridge Foundation provides full coverage of costs to attend the University of Cambridge, and Jason Kliewer earned degrees in finance and management with highest honors in 1998 from UF before winning the Gates Cambridge Scholarship this year.

The National Science Foundation provides a stipend of $27,500 and three years of support for advanced study to approximately 900 outstanding graduate students in the mathematical, physical, biological, engineering, and behavioral and social sciences. UF had nine winners who have earned or will have earned a bachelor’s degree from UF by May 2003: Kate Dollen, John Dominy, Fabian Fernandez, Benjamin Griffin, Jeannette Jacques, Mobolaji Olurinde, Christopher Osovitz, Jamie Padgett, and Michael Wasserman. In addition, 11 other students from UF earned an Honorable Mention from the NSF.

UF has also been particularly successful with the Fulbright Scholarship, which provides funding for graduating seniors and graduate students to spend an academic year in any of 140 countries. A record 59 students applied from UF this year for the 2003-2004 academic year, and 19 of those students were forwarded from the national committee to the respective countries with a positive recommendation. Students are in the process of learning if they will be offered the Fulbright award from the various countries this spring.

Leadership experience has played a significant part in some of the awards as well, such as making up significant portions of the criteria for the Udall and Truman Scholarships. The 2003 Truman Scholarship winner, Teresa Porter, has served as president of UF’s Panhellenic Council and as Florida director for the Southeastern Panhellenic Conference, and the Udall Scholarship winner James Argento has an extensive record of involvement with political and environmental issues. Other recognitions include the USA Today national newspaper’s All- USA College Academic Team; Michael Gale and Steven Cohen earned recognition on the Third Team in 2003. In addition, Florida Leader magazine honors students state-wide, and Michael Gale (a 2002 Truman and 2002 Udall Scholarships winner) was selected as first runner-up for Florida College Student of the Year, and Steven Cohen and Yasmine Taeb were named finalists for that honor. Gale, Cohen, and Taeb are all heavily involved in a variety of leadership roles on campus.

For more information, contact Sheila Dickison or Jeanna Mastrodicasa at 392-1519.

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