Congratulations to the 2018 30 Under 30!

Last Friday, May 19, UCF Alumni hosted an award ceremony to recognize the 30 Under 30 alumni who have made an impact within their professions, communities and the university in the early stages of their careers. Eleven of the honored students are from the College of Sciences. Congratulations, alumni!


Yazen Abdin ’12


Yazen Abdin is an immigration attorney at NeJame Law where he handles complex immigration cases and publicly advocates for them. He is recognized among the American Institute of Legal Council’s 10 Best Immigration Attorneys and was voted by his peers as a Florida Legal Elite Up and Comer in 2018. His work has been published in legal journals, and he has appeared on local news broadcasts to advise the public about the latest developments in immigration law. Abdin maintains a relationship with UCF by working with the Department of Political Science to connect students with internship opportunities in the legal field. He also devotes time to various community service organizations, such as Project Downtown Orlando and Runway to Hope. Majored in psychology.

Arielle Bardzell ’13

Political Science

Arielle Bardzell is a corporate attorney practicing at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, a prestigious law firm in New York City. While at Georgetown Law, she represented and advised victims of family violence as a student attorney in Georgetown Law’s Domestic Violence Clinic. She has also been published multiple times in the Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law. While she was a student at UCF, Bardzell was actively involved in campus life as a member of the Homecoming and Knight-Thon Executive Boards, Student Government Association Executive Boards and President’s Leadership Council. She has continued to stay connected to her alma mater as a proud member of the New York Alumni Chapter and generously supports the Black & Gold Impact Scholarship, which provides financial aid to student leaders. Majored in criminal justice and political science.

Jamison Gavin ’11


Jamison Gavin is a former member of the UCF men’s soccer team and went on to build Premium Trash Services, a seven-figure enterprise employing more than 150 people nationwide. He focused on developing and providing jobs for the underserved homeless. Now, he is a partner at WellKept, an organization that provides valet trash and recycling services for multifamily communities. Over the years, his work has been acclaimed by the Black Business Investment Fund, the National Apartment Association and the South Florida Apartment Association. In addition, Gavin maintains a lifelong commitment to UCF as a member of the Atlanta UCF Alumni Chapter and invests in Atlanta-based startups run by UCF alumni. Majored in psychology.

Shaquem Griffin ’16

Human Communication

After graduating in December 2016, Shaquem Griffin suited up for his final year as a Knight and was the heart of the 2017 UCF football team, leading the Knights to their unforgettable, perfect 13-0 championship season. His inspirational journey has been well documented by Sports Illustrated, ESPN’s College GameDay, the NFL, the Orlando Sentinel and other national publications. He has been praised as the 2016 American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year and the 2018 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Defensive MVP. He has used his platform to show that anything is possible “against all odds” by getting involved in several nonprofit organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club of America and Mothers Against Drunk Driving and started a track club with his twin brother Shaquill for children in their hometown, St. Petersburg, Florida. The two will be teammates again in Seattle after Shaquem was selected by the Seahawks in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Majored in human communication.

Brittany Howell ’10, PSYD


As a clinical psychologist for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Brittany Howell helps veterans coping with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions. Her passion and career path were inspired by a veterans support group she facilitated during an internship at UCF. In addition to her involvement with the Tampa Bay UCF Alumni Chapter, she has recently become a mentor in the Nicholson School of Communication’s mentorship program, finding true joy in sharing her professional experiences and providing fresh perspectives and insight into the dynamic field of psychology. Majored in psychology.

Michelle (Mixon) Jones ’11 ’14MPA

Interpersonal Organization

Michele Jones serves as the emergency management director for Martin County and leads the county’s efforts to mitigate against, prepare for, respond to and recover from large-scale emergencies and disasters. During Hurricanes Matthew and Irma, she served as the senior emergency management coordinator at Brevard County Emergency Management and played a significant role in ensuring the safety of the public. She also dedicates her personal time to serving on numerous statewide committees and to UCF as a member of the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Advisory Board and committee chair of the Space Coast UCF Alumni Chapter’s Starry Knights annual scholarship fundraiser. Majored in interpersonal organization (bachelor’s) and public administration (bachelor’s and master’s).

Amber Mariano ’17

Political Science

Amber Mariano made history in 2016 when she became the youngest person elected to the Florida House of Representatives at the age of 21. As an advocate for higher education in the Legislature, she has worked on expanding Bright Futures Scholarship funding, renewing the Florida Prepaid College Savings Plan, and refunding the excess credit hour surcharge for students who graduate on time. Before starting her professional political career, Mariano was a UCF LEAD Scholar, legislative scholar and actively involved in UCF’s Student Government Association as the Senate President Pro Tempore. She still returns to UCF often to speak to student organizations to encourage them that it is never too early to become politically engaged. Majored in political science.

Kristi Ray ’13, DO


Kristi Ray is a family medicine resident physician at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Despite her busy schedule, she serves as chair of the Strategic Communications/International Health Committee for the American Public Health Association. She also works for NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab and completed research that will help future space missions and benefit recreational divers, too. Her career has taken her around the world to Morocco, Indonesia and the Philippines, and on the weekends, she is a shark tank SCUBA Diver for Adventure Aquarium in Camden, New Jersey. Majored in biology.

Sara Singer ’10

Political Science

After obtaining her bachelor’s degree from UCF, Sara Singer attended the University of Miami Law School and became an assistant public defender. She practiced criminal defense at both the misdemeanor and felony level and obtained significant trial experience. Currently, she is an associate attorney and practices family law at Brydger & Porras. She continues to represent UCF by serving on the Southeast Florida UCF Alumni Chapter board as the events chair and chapter chair. Majored in political science.

Lindsey Turnbull ’10 ’12MA


Lindsey Turnbull is the founder and CEO of MissHeard Media, which works to empower teen girls through story sharing and skills-building events. MissHeard Media connects girls to the world, one story at a time. At UCF, Turnbull was a founding member of the Young Women Leaders Program, where she developed an appreciation for the power and passion of teen girls, and a LEAD Scholar. Today, she uses all of her research and presentation skills to help girls embrace their most competent, confident selves. Majored in anthropology (bachelor’s) and history (bachelor’s and master’s).

Demitria Vasilatis ’11, DVM


Demitria Vasilatis, who earned her doctoral degree in veterinary medicine at the University of Florida, is a current resident in clinical pathology at the William Pritchard Veterinary Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis. Her vocal advocacy for feline medicine and research was nationally recognized by the Winn Feline Foundation in 2014, and she was also awarded a scholarship upon graduation from the American Association for Feline Practitioners in 2016. A first-generation graduate, Vasilatis has offered guidance to students who wish to pursue careers as veterinarians through the Burnett Honors College Alumni e-Mentor program. Majored in biology.


See the rest of UCF’s 30 Under 30 alumni here.

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