Meet the 2017 COS Order of Pegasus Recipients
UCF has named 21 students as recipients of the Order of Pegasus, the university’s most prestigious student award. Eleven of these recipients are students of the UCF College of Sciences. Get to know them below.
CHRISTOPHER CLEMENTE: Tampa, FL
- About: Christopher Clemente, College of Arts and Humanities and College of Sciences, is majoring in history and political science with a minor in philosophy. Throughout his college career, he dedicated his time to the Student Government Association and currently serves the student body as SGA president. Clemente also is a member of the UCF Board of Trustees and the advisory board for the UCF Creative School for Children. Among his accomplishments, he served on the President’s Leadership Council, volunteered as a Knight-Thon staff captain, and advocated successfully for a prayer room in the Student Union.
- UCF Experience: I never could have dreamed of the opportunities I would have at UCF. With every passing year, I grew in my academic pursuits and leadership roles. A love of learning and service was instilled by the education and mentorship I received from professors and administrators. I will always be reaching for the stars — to do more and be more. As a Knight, I will always advocate for my peers and serve them in any way that I can while embracing diversity. UCF has given me the margin of excellence needed to become the best version of myself by allowing me to develop my skills as a leader and by challenging me to excel as a scholar.
- Future Plans: After graduation, I plan to attend law school to study constitutional law. After practicing law, I would like to become a history teacher and then a professor.
EMILY DOVYDAITIS Orlando, FL
- About: Emily Dovydaitis, College of Sciences, is majoring in anthropology and biology. She is a member of The Burnett Honors College, where she was a team leader for Honors Symposium and participated in a service-learning trip to St. Kitts and Nevis. Dovydaitis served on the President’s Leadership Council and as an ambassador for the 90.7 WMFE Dare to Listen campaign. When not in class, she may be found presenting at Nerd Nite or testing her green thumb at the Arboretum. She also participated in the Student Government Association for four years, acting as both the health and sustainability coordinator and the director of campus life.
- UCF Experience: Attending UCF imparted upon me the significance of passionate, altruistic individuals on both a local and global scale. My tenure as health and sustainability coordinator and my experiences through Volunteer UCF exposed me to a multitude of compassionate, dedicated people working collectively to improve the world. Through my professors and insightful classmates, I have gained the necessary background knowledge and critical thinking skills to inform my decisions as a global citizen. I am incredibly grateful for my Honors in the Major research experience and for travels to Nepal, which demonstrated to me the importance of humility in research and further steered me to be a defender of climate and social justice.
- Future Plans: Looking to the future, I plan to serve as an environmental educator with the Peace Corps in South America. I intend to pursue a M.S./J.D. program with a focus in environmental studies or climate policy. I want to advocate for social justice, build resilient communities, and defend populations jeopardized by anthropogenic climate change.
LAUREN GANDY Bellevue, WA
- About: Lauren Gandy, College of Sciences and College of Arts and Humanities, is majoring in forensic science and French, with minors in chemistry and biomedical sciences. During her time at UCF, she served as the president of the Forensic Science Association and as vice president of the American Chemical Society. Gandy also is a member of The Burnett Honors College, LEAD Scholars Academy and President’s Leadership Council. She completed her Honors in the Major thesis on French science fiction while also conducting research on gunshot residue. Additionally, Gandy was the global health intern and the Sibille H. Pritchard Global Peace Fellow at UCF Global Perspectives.
- UCF Experience: Diversity is the word I would use to define my undergraduate career. Never would I have imagined in my freshman year that I would experience such extraordinary things, from exploring international relations and analyzing French literature to investigating gunshot residue and working at an Army crime lab. The myriad of ways that UCF empowers its students allowed me to make my own decisions within a strong and vast framework of support. These experiences were available to me because of the wonderful UCF faculty. The professors and staff exemplify the excellence that UCF seeks to impart in its students. I know that I would not be where I am today without the support of my research faculty and my organization faculty advisor. Their passion for their research, dedication to their students and tireless efforts to improve themselves are things I aspire to embody in my future path. Forever will black and gold run through my veins, and I am proud to have spent time contributing to the undergraduate experience at this wonderful institution.
- Future Plans: I will attend a chemistry Ph.D. program after graduation. After obtaining my doctorate, I plan to enter the U.S. Department of Defense chemical and biological defense sector, working to improve protections for soldiers and civilians against chemical and biological warfare agents.
SABRINA JÉRÔME Orlando, FL
- About: Sabrina Jérôme, College of Arts and Humanities and College of Sciences, is double majoring in religion and cultural studies and political science. She is a LEAD Scholar and a B.L.A.C.K Institute peer mentor, as well as a member of Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity and President’s Leadership Council. Her passion for multicultural affairs and social advocacy inspired her to lead many educational forums and advocacy demonstrations, such as serving on the Black History Month Committee for the Multicultural Student Center. As Soirée Director for Club Kreyòl, Jérôme helped showcase the richness of the creole culture to the Greater Orlando community. Her interest in politics led her to serve as an intern for United States Senator Marco Rubio and as Assistant Chief Justice for the judicial branch of the UCF Student Government Association.
- UCF Experience: UCF’s impact on my personal, professional and intellectual development has catapulted me to become an impactful mentor, scholar and social change agent in my community. The growth that I have undergone since first embarking on my undergraduate career allowed me to realize my potential as a dynamic leader and motivated me to uphold an unyielding thirst for knowledge. Throughout my experiences, I have been able to exercise my passion for culture and social advocacy and encountered the most incredible mentors and friends along the way. I learned critical life lessons and have been challenged to excel no matter the circumstances. I am thankful for having chosen the best university to foster my passions and to live the college experience of a lifetime. Now empowered to unleash my own legacy of service and advocacy, it is with profound honor that I attest to the promised, “UCF Stands for Opportunity.”
- Future Plans: I am excited to incorporate multicultural appreciation into my professional career. After graduation, I plan to attend law school and eventually practice diplomacy at the international level.
DANIEL KLEIMAN Miami, FL
- About: Daniel Kleiman, College of Sciences, is majoring in psychology and minoring in marketing. He is a member of the President’s Leadership Council, Student Development and Enrollment Services Vice President’s Student Advisory Council, and conducts research as a member of The Burnett Honors College. Kleiman held multiple leadership roles with UCF Homecoming, most recently serving as executive director. He was also a member of Greek Life and the 4EVER KNIGHTS ambassador program. His favorite service experiences include the Volunteer UCF executive board, in which he served as director for animal awareness, the Day & Knight of Service committee, and the spring break service trip to Cumberland Island, Georgia, where he led student volunteers.
- UCF Experience: My UCF experience has been a transformative period of growth in my life. UCF afforded me the needed education and opportunities to discover my passion for community engagement and service. Over the years, I developed a strong belief in the importance of higher education, not only in the life of the individual student, but also in the strength of communities. I owe a large portion of this development to my programming experience in the Office of Student Involvement. My most gratifying experiences have been taking part in coordinating two new UCF traditions: Volunteer UCF’s 24-hour Day & Knight of Service and UCF Homecoming’s Knights Got Talent. These, along with my academics and other campus involvement, led to special connections with others, as well as a much better sense of myself. I am grateful to be a UCF Knight, and will continue to proudly represent my alma mater throughout my endeavors.
- Future Plans: After graduation, I will devote a year to service as a City Year AmeriCorps member in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Subsequently, I plan to attend graduate school to further my career in the field of higher education and community relations.
ANGEL E. SANCHEZ Miami, FL
- About: Angel E. Sanchez, College of Health and Public Affairs and College of Sciences, is a student in The Burnett Honors College majoring in legal studies and political science. A proud DirectConnect to UCF student, he was Valencia College’s 2014 Distinguished Graduate and a commencement speaker. Sanchez is the recipient of the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship. He served as president of the nationally-ranked UCF Moot Court Team, member of the Research and Mentoring Program and researched on political redistricting commissions and felony disenfranchisement. Under the mentorship of his political science professor, Sanchez co-authored a published law review article and won first place at UCF’s Showcase of Undergraduate Research Excellence. He served as a UCF Legislative Scholars intern and is currently a social justice advocate partnering with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, Southern Poverty Law Center and Campaign for Youth Justice.
- UCF Experience: My UCF experience has been one of opportunity. I was a troubled teenager who earned a GED in prison and attended a local community college from a homeless shelter. Now, I am an Honors student conducting research and winning awards at UCF. Thanks to the DirectConnect to UCF program, I was encouraged to believe that I could someday attend The Burnett Honors College. On the Moot Court Team, I developed my constitutional debate skills, won tournaments, and ranked fifth in the country. Through the Honors in the Major and RAMP programs, I developed my research, writing and presentation skills, culminating in awardwinning published research. As a legislative scholar, I learned how to lobby and advocate in the Florida capitol. I now say with confidence that I can research, debate, lobby and advocate thanks to my UCF experience.
- Future Plans: I was recently named a 2017 graduate scholar by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, which will allow me to attend law school this fall. I plan to work as a public interest lawyer fighting to protect civil liberties and to promote social justice.
ELIZABETH SANTIAGO Cape Coral, FL
- About: Elizabeth Santiago, College of Sciences, is majoring in psychology, with a minor in legal studies. As a first-generation college student, she seized a variety of opportunities through the LEAD Scholars Academy, President’s Leadership Council, LEGACY Scholars and Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Santiago was president of the Alpha Xi Chapter of Chi Upsilon Sigma, as well as the Diversified Greek Council. She also wrote as a columnist for the UCF Forum opinion series. As current president of the Latin American Student Association, Santiago oversees the planning of the university’s month-long celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month. Passionate about Latino student success, she serves as a mentor for the CREAR Futuros program, which is dedicated to guiding first-time college students.
- UCF Experience: To understand my UCF experience, one must first understand the personal growth I have undergone. Entering through SOAR’s summer access program, my expectations of what I could accomplish were low. Instead, I was uplifted by the components of the UCF Creed and motivated to personify them throughout my college experience. With each class attended, organizations joined and community serviced, I grew closer to the person I wanted to be. I found myself appreciating the art of learning, taking initiative in leadership roles and transforming goals into accomplishments. UCF ensured that I had every tool I needed to achieve success. My experience has been shaped by a type of learning that transcends the academic realm. Through this amazing university, I have developed into a person capable of eliciting change and succeeding in my future endeavors.
- Future Plans: After graduation, I plan to attend law school with a focus in family law. I want to become an attorney who specializes in helping domestic violence victims who cannot afford private representation.
TAYLOR SCIMECA Oviedo, FL
- About: Taylor Scimeca, College of Sciences and College of Undergraduate Studies, is majoring in political science and interdisciplinary studies with a minor in terrorism studies. As a member of The Burnett Honors College, she served as an orientation peer ambassador, freshman team leader, and the president of Honors Congress. She currently divides her time as the chair of the President’s Leadership Council and the chief justice of the Student Government Association Judicial Council. These roles have allowed her to advocate for student rights through participation in the University Fee, Golden Rule Review, and Parking and Transportation Advisory Committees.
- UCF Experience: UCF opened doors for me that I never knew existed as a first-generation college student. I was encouraged to discover my passions and fully realize my potential. My faculty mentors pushed me to challenge myself through research opportunities such as Honors in the Major. The program allowed me to analyze the effects of terror attacks on refugee populations in Western Europe. UCF prepared me for my personal and career aspirations through the knowledge I gained in and out of the classroom. Each peer, professor and mentor that I met over the past four years taught me how to be a better member of this community. Long before my first undergraduate course, I witnessed the potential of a UCF education. I lived up to that potential, distinguishing myself as a leader, scholar and community advocate. As an alumna, I will forever take pride in my Central Florida roots and continually reach for the stars.
- Future Plans: After graduation, I will attend graduate school to earn a master’s degree in international security with a focus on terrorism and homeland security policy. Following this, I plan to seek a career as a counterterrorism analyst for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
RIMA SULEIMAN Port Orange, FL
- About: Rima Suleiman, College of Sciences, is majoring in psychology with minors in English (creative writing) and political science. She is co-founder of Advocates for World Health and a justice in the judicial branch of the Student Government Association. Suleiman is a global fellow for the Office of the Special Assistant to the President for Global Perspectives and works as a writing consultant at the University Writing Center. When she is not working to improve campus experiences, she is volunteering to improve educational opportunities for others, either locally at Journeys Academy for expelled students or abroad for refugees and impoverished children.
- UCF Experience: UCF, with its mission of preparing students to embrace their passion to the fullest, transcended all of my expectations. The diverse abundance of educational programs, student activities and leadership opportunities assisted in my self-discovery. Impassioned to share my experiences of living in Syria, I found a creative means of self-expression in my English minor. I interned with Journeys Academy, a school for expelled students, where I applied my field knowledge by designing creative writing lessons and leading workshops focused on developing students’ language skills as an expressive construct. Through learning about political governing foundations, I discovered a desire to identify and prevent surrounding inefficiencies. Consequently, I served on the judicial branch of the SGA. As a UCF student, I intend to overcome inequality on a global level.
- Future Plans: After graduation, I plan to attend law school in the pursuit of actualizing a new cooperative international model capable of addressing the acute issues of violent conflict, refugee crises and extreme poverty. Ultimately, I plan to enact positive change through galvanizing effective international action to tackle these risks.
EMILY HERRINGTON Orlando, FL
- About: Emily Herrington, College of Sciences, is pursuing her master’s degree in anthropology with a focus in food studies. She began her UCF journey as a LEAD Scholar, where she adopted the servicelearning model of leadership. Herrington contributed her time as a member of Volunteer UCF, as a manager in the UCF Student Union and as a graduate teaching assistant. As the current president of both the Graduate Anthropology Association and the Graduate Student Association, she is dedicating her graduate career to connecting UCF students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines. Similarly, her ethnographic research focuses on gathering student perspectives from within public school cafeterias to help inform and improve food and health policies. Herrington has presented her research on the national and international level and participated in health science research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School.
- UCF Experience: As a first-generation scholar, I have found UCF to be an edifying place to experience and appreciate cross-cultural understandings and develop the tools of scholarship required to enact social change and build strong communities. Surpassing my expectations for academic rigor, this university provided me with a strong appreciation for diversity, inclusion and social justice that has reinforced my purpose as an anthropologist. I learned how people connect with their food by growing up in a family of restauranteurs. UCF instilled in me unparalleled lessons that gave new depth to these connections, enabling me to learn about our diverse yet connected food culture. Thanks to my UCF education, I feel propelled towards a scholastic journey to understand food, both as a basic, nutritional need, as well as a cultural medium.
- Future Plans: I plan to apply to Ph.D. programs while practicing public anthropology and advocating for the inclusion of children’s perspectives in food policy. In the future, I hope to become an international food researcher, working on revising food policies that affect children and families in the United States and abroad.
MADELINE R. MARKS Fairfield, CT
- About: Madeline R. Marks, College of Sciences, is a Ph.D. student in clinical psychology. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sports psychology with a minor in psychology from the University of Connecticut where she was recognized as a Babbidge Scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Her research and clinical mentors support her focus on the prevention and treatment of anxiety disorders and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in high-stress occupations. Marks works at the UCF RESTORES Clinic, which has become known across Florida and the country as an institution that is helping to enact culture change in the emergency services. The partnership between the Orlando Fire Department Peer Support Team and UCF is considered groundbreaking and a model for other emergency services departments, and Marks has spearheaded these efforts at the local fire and police stations.
- UCF Experience: I credit my current accomplishments to my mentors and fellow graduate students, as well as the overall mission of the university. UCF’s emphasis and recognition as America’s leading partnership university fosters not only dialogue, but also action. UCF provided me with opportunities and resources to develop a professional identity as a scholar-practitioner, to combine science and practice, and to serve the military and first responder communities—all in the context of mental health.
- Future Plans: I aspire to be a leader who combines science and service, bridging the gap in the area of mental health for high-stress occupations. Next year, I will be applying for a doctoral internship to continue my training.