Students Awarded Scholarships from The Villagers

Three University of Miami School of Architecture students–senior Daniel Clavijo, junior Jessica Stefanick, and sophomore Hitomi Maeno—have been awarded scholarships by The Villagers, a local group dedicated to restoration and preservation in the Greater Miami area.

Clavijo, a graduating senior who is receiving the award for the second time, said he was very grateful. “Preservation is important to me because we should leave nature, and the built environment, in a better state than we found it,” he said. Clavijo and Maeno each received a $4,000 scholarship and Stefanick received $3,000.

The Villagers recently awarded more than $20,000 for college scholarships to deserving students in Miami-Dade County with an interest in architectural historic preservation and restoration. Seven students were selected from the field of applicants based on scholastic standing, recommendations, and samples of their work as well as a statement of interest in preserving architectural past.

The Villagers, Inc., is a local non-profit organization dedicated to the restoration and preservation of historic sites in Greater Miami. The association originated with the efforts of a group of citizens who came together in 1966 to work to save the Douglas Entrance, one of George Merrick’s original public projects in Coral Gables. The Villagers has supported the University of Miami School of Architecture since 1985 and, to date, has given more than $142,100 to UM students.

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Junior Receives 2015 Newman Civic Fellows Award

UM News

Civic Scholar 2015 - 1

UM President Donna E. Shalala presents the 2015 Newman Civic Fellows Award to Natasha Koermer, with, at left, Andrew Wiemer, director of the Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership Development, and, at right, Robin Bachin, assistant provost for civic and community engagement.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 7, 2015)—Natasha Koermer, a biomedical engineering student who is minoring in public health and Spanish, has received the 2015 Newman Civic Fellows Award for her extraordinary leadership, civic engagement, and commitment to creating sustainable solutions to global engineering and health issues.

Koermer received the award, which the national organization Campus Compact bestows on the next generation of public problem solvers and civic leaders, from UM President Donna E. Shalala, who lauded Koermer for implementing numerous projects in the community, including a local urban sustainable gardening initiative, an outreach program to inspire high school students to pursue service-based careers in STEM disciplines, and the U’s first 5K Run/Walk for Water to raise awareness about the importance of clean water for all communities.

As if those accomplishments weren’t enough, Koermer is also president of the University’s student chapter of Engineers Without Borders, for which she led the fundraising for and the implementation of a $25,000 sewage system in Las Mercedes, Ecuador, and a research assistant at the School of Nursing and Health Studies, where she works closely with faculty to collect data for a study on intimate partner violence across Miami-Dade County. Her group’s research was selected for multiple conferences, including the Nursing Network on Violence Against Women International 2015 and Futures Without Violence.

“She is an incredibly bright, civically engaged student and will no doubt continue to bridge the gap between cutting-edge research and its practical application in solving real-world issues,” said Robin Bachin, assistant provost for civic and community engagement.

Offering her congratulations to Koermer in a ceremony in her office on April 28, Shalala was not surprised to learn the junior would not be resting over the break. She is headed to another service project for the summer, this time in South Africa’s Limpopo Province to assist in the Water, Society, and Health Research Experience for Undergraduates funded by the National Science Foundation.

Presented annually by Campus Compact, the Newman Civic Fellows Award honors inspiring student leaders who invest their time and energies in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country.

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The House Shalala Built Is Renamed in Her Honor

By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News

SAC RenamingCORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 30, 2015)—The idea took root before the first shovels of dirt were even turned.

Four years ago, as the ceremonial groundbreaking for a new University of Miami student center was ending, the Fairholme Foundation’s Bruce Berkowitz proposed a name for the facility that was billed as a “game changer” for the institution.

His suggestion—the Shalala Center—drew a standing ovation, but little came of the suggestion after it was made. When the building officially opened at the start of the 2013-14 academic year, it was simply called the Student Activities Center.

As it turns out, that was only temporary.

On Thursday, in a going-away tribute fit for a queen, Berkowitz and his wife, Tracey, ensured UM cemented President Donna E. Shalala’s name in Hurricanes’ history, renaming the 119,000-square-foot Student Activities Center in her honor. Read the full story

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President Obama Honors Analyst for His Other (Volunteer) Job

By Diamari Torres
Special to UM News


Terry Helmers

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 30, 2015)—By day, Terry Helmers is a senior systems analyst for the University of Miami Information Technology (UMIT) department. But on weekends, he’s usually paddling or diving in Biscayne National Park, where his decades-long dedication to preserving and sharing South Florida’s unique ecosystems has earned him President Barack Obama’s President’s Volunteer Service Award.

As Obama told Helmers in the award letter, “Your volunteer service demonstrates the kind of commitment to your community that moves America a step closer to its great promise.”

Helmers, who has been a National Park Service (NPS) volunteer and diver since May 1987, has spent countless hours cleaning up national park shores and lands; replacing, maintaining, and installing buoys; removing invasive species—like the lionfish—from local waters; and photographing (and sometimes discovering) shipwrecks. Likened to South Florida’s own Lewis or Clark by The Miami Herald, he also leads canoe expeditions to remote wilderness areas where visitors can see the changing environment up close and learn more about protecting it.

Over the years, he has won various awards for his volunteer work, including the 1999 University of Miami Vice President’s Service Award, the 2006 NPS Regional Superintendent’s Volunteer of the Year Award, and the 2007 NPS George Hartzog Regional Volunteer Award.

As he humbly notes, “We stand ready to take on any park task that needs to be done.”

This year, his NPS colleagues nominated him for the nation’s premier volunteer award, which was established in 2003 to honor and thank citizens who dedicate their lives to service. Brian Carlstrom, the superintendent of Biscayne National Park, presented the White House award to Helmers at NPS’s annual volunteer picnic in April.

“It was a surprise to me,” said Helmers, who accepted the honor by telling a story “that reinforces why we work—paid or volunteer —for the park service.”

Among his most enjoyable tasks, he says, is working with NPS’s “enthusiastic, energetic, skilled, trained, and extremely intelligent” interns, many who are master’s or Ph.D. candidates from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Not surprisingly, he had a hand in establishing the intern program.

“Back when Biscayne National Park was younger, we discussed how to promote this relationship between a top marine school and a living laboratory in their backyard,” he said. “It took a number of years, but now it’s a very well-established program benefiting both UM and the park.”

To learn more about the National Park Service, visit: http://www.nps.gov/.


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Preliminary Applications for Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships Due May 15

Juniors and seniors who wish to apply for the Rhodes and/or Marshall scholarships for graduate programs in the United Kingdom that begin in fall 2016 must submit a brief, preliminary application for UM endorsement by Friday, May 15. All Rhodes and Marshal scholarship applicants must be endorsed by their home university.

The Marshall Scholarships commemorate the humane ideals of the Marshall Plan and express the continuing gratitude of the British people to their American counterparts. Up to 40 Marshall Scholars are selected each year to study at the graduate level at a U.K. university in any field of study

The Rhodes Scholarship was initiated in 1902 to bring outstanding students from around the world to the University of Oxford to pursue graduate studies. Candidates must be U.S. citizens between the ages of 18 and 24 and hold a bachelor’s degree by October 2016.           

For full details on the application process for UM students, visit miami.edu/awards (see “application instructions” sections of the alphabetical listings or Rhodes and Marshall scholarships) or contact Kefryn Reese in the Office of Prestigious Awards and Fellowships at prestigiousawards@miami.edu or 305-284-5384.


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