UCF students from across the campus were honored for their commitment to excellence in academics, leadership and community service during the annual Founders’ Day ceremony Wednesday.
Jessica Booth is a Theatre major whose high GPA ranks her in the top 1 percent of UCF’s Musical Theatre program. A “triple-threat” performer, she is a talented actress, singer and dancer. She serves as the Theatre Department’s student liaison, volunteering her time to help attract talented students to UCF. Additionally, she is the statewide coordinator for the Florida Thespians/Broadway Cares Fight AIDS Campaign, and she also organizes internship opportunities through Broadway Cares’ national office in New York.
Lee Noto is a Management Entrepreneurship major and Spanish minor. A LEAD Scholar and member of the President’s Leadership Council, she works as a resident assistant for UCF Housing and as a management intern for the Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She has consecutively earned Dean’s list honors for academic achievement, and she will move to Hawaii following commencement to pursue her passion for travel and culture as a Teach for America fellow.
Jesica Shearhod, an Elementary Education major, has balanced academics, research, international study and community service during her four years at UCF. She is an Order of Pegasus inductee, and she has taught in Sierra Leone and Spain through study-abroad programs. A member of the Burnett Honors College, Shearhod is a participant in the Honors in the Major program who wrote her undergraduate thesis about English literacy education for orphans in Sierra Leone.
Tyler Maddox, an Aerospace Engineering major, has already launched rockets into space. A member of the Burnett Honors College, he has interned with Lockheed Martin and United Launch Alliance. He previously served as president for UCF’s chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, and was also a member of Sigma Gamma Tau National Aerospace Engineering Honor Society and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Amanda Puttrich is a Criminal Justice major. A dedicated community servant at Habitat for Humanity in Seminole County for the past four years, she has also volunteered at UCF through the Student Conduct Board, Victim Services and Center for Multilingual and Multicultural Studies. She has studied abroad in Russia to learn about criminal justice in contemporary Russian society. She is working toward a career in social work that focuses on children and families in the criminal justice system.
Jennifer Black, a Hospitality Management major, is also pursuing a minor in Dance and an undergraduate certificate in Leadership Studies. In addition to her academic success, the Harris Rosen Scholarship recipient and resident assistant has dedicated countless hours to serving fellow students through the Student Government Association and O-Team. She will pursue a Master’s degree in Higher Education at the University of South Carolina, fulfilling her passion for helping students become more involved with their university.
Camila Diaz, a Molecular and Microbiology major, is a dedicated student-researcher who spends nearly 20 extra hours a week working in one of UCF’s biomedical labs while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. She is researching infectious diseases as part of her Honors in the Major undergraduate thesis. Camila will pursue medical school upon graduation this spring, and she hopes for a long-term career as a physician-scientist.
William Crosby, a Nursing major, is a 13-year veteran of the Air Force who is assigned to UCF’s ROTC program as part of the Air Force Nurse Enlisted Commissioning Program. He has collaborated with the MD Anderson Cancer Center on his undergraduate Honors in the Major thesis, which focuses on tracheostomy education for caretakers of patients with head and neck cancer. Upon graduation this spring he will go on to serve as a commissioned officer in the Air Force.
Christopher Frye is a double-major in Physics and Math. He has taken graduate courses in both fields and maintained a 4.0 GPA during his academic career while also working twice-weekly at Lockheed Martin. Currently serving as president of the Society of Physics Students, he has been a member of the Math Club and the Math and Physics honor societies. He leads an outreach program that teaches area high schoolers about physics and also serves as a teaching assistant for some of UCF’s math and physics classes.
Linh Anh Cat is a double major in biology and environmental and urban systems. She also is a Burnett Honors College student, LEAD Scholar and has completed extensive research at UCF’s Urban Landscape and Natural Resources Lab. Despite a challenging course load, and her dedication to community service, she’s maintained a 4.0 GPA. She’s interested in sustainable agriculture and after graduation will be completing a resident scholar program in St. Kitts. She also plans to continue her research into how invasive species impact native species and their survival. In her spare time she volunteers to teach fourth-graders about the environment and she has built habitats for the endangered Key Largo woodrat.
Outstanding Thesis Awards
Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
First Place: David T. Ackerman for “International Contracts: A Quantitative Analysis of Transnational Contract Formation,” directed by Cynthia Brown in Legal Studies.
Runner-up: María Elvira Vera Tatá for “The Maze,” directed by Cecilia Rodrígues Milanés in English.
Sciences, Engineering, and Technology
First Place: Perry L. Johnson for “Toward Increasing Performance and Efficiency in Gas Turbines for Power Generation and Aero-Propulsion: Unsteady Simulation of Angled Discrete-Injection Coolant in a Hot Gas Pathway,” directed by Jay Kapat in Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering.
Runner-up: Camha Nguyen for “A Tripartile Biosensor for Real-Time SNPs Detection in DNA Hairpin Motif,” directed by Dmitry M. Kolpashchikov in Chemistry.