Alumni Newsletter Fall 2014

Letter from the Director

Hello Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Alum,


Welcome to our new alumni newsletter. There are more than 1,600 graduates from the Opportunity Scholars Program. This newsletter serves to keep you informed of alumni opportunities and events and ways to stay connected to the university and each other.


It is our goal to encourage and foster life-long alumni participation, involvement, and commitment. You are part of the Opportunity Scholar and University of Florida alumni family, and we hope that you continue to stay connected and supporting the program.


Go Gators,

Leslie Pendleton


Meet Our New Staff

Will Atkins, assistant director,  is the newest addition to the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program professional staff. To help our alumni get better acquainted with him, we asked Will about his passion for serving first-generation students.

"Being first-generation is being a trailblazer. You are the first person to go to college within your family and by doing so you are serving as a role model and example to the younger generations." 


Learn more about Will's story online at


Rounding out our team for the 2014-2015 academic year, is a talented group of people who love to make a difference on campus.
Pictures from left to right: Caitlyn LoMonte, Andres Vergara, Rashida Lake, Marissa Maulbeck, Jose Acre
Here are a few quotes from our staff about what drives their work.

"I believe that being first-generation is all about being brave and willing to confront the unknown in hopes of discovering a better future." - Caitlyn LoMonte 
"Being first-generation means having the willpower to break all barriers in order to succeed." - Andres Vergara

"First-generation means... resilience... beating the odds that are against my success." - Rashida Lake 

"First-generation means finding my own way through an unknown world. It is an identity that contributes to my perseverance, independence, and responsibility." - Marissa Maulbeck
" Being a first-generation student gives me a drive to excel in everything I do, and inspire those who are in my shoes." - Jose Acre
View our entire staff at on our online directory.
Alumni Spotlight

In our efforts to re-connect Opportunity Scholars Alumni to the program, the "Featured Alumni Talks" were created to showcase talented and inspiring MFOS alumni giving back to the program by sharing their journey since graduation. 


                      Bothaina "Beth" Saleh                     Kayla Morse

Our first guest this semester was Bothaina "Beth" Saleh. Beth hails from South Florida and is a 2014 graduate of the University of Florida, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Telecommunication News and a minor in Education. Currently, Beth is working for NBC Universal in New York City as a Sales Associate for NBC Sports Group. She's getting the opportunity to combine her love of television and the media industry with her business-minded attitude.


Our second guest was Kayla Morse. Kayla is in her 3rd year of teaching as a Founding 3rd grade Lead Teacher at the Dudley Neighborhood Charter School in the Boston Public Schools district. She's a graduate of the Boston Teacher Residency Program, a 13-month teacher preparation program. She's also earned a master's degree from the University of Massachusetts - Boston. Kayla graduated from UF in 2011 with a degree in Family Youth and Community Sciences.


Interested in participating in our "Featured Alumni Talks," contact Andres Vergara for more information. 


Current MFOS and UF News

MFOS Tailgate
Join the UF Alumni Association and the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program for the MFOS Alumni Tailgate on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 from 9-11:30am at Emerson Alumni Hall. 
RSVP here
MFOS is coming to your city!

We were in Miami, DC, Boston, and NYC this semester to reconnect with some MFOS Alumni. In the spring, we will be in Tampa, Atlanta, and likely others.

Email Andres Vergara for further details.  

Stay Connected
As a member of the Gator Nation, we want to keep you informed on how we're working with today's Gators, and we want to encourage you to stay connected with us.
Update your information here.

MFOS selected as finalist for the Excelencia Award 
Recognized Among Most Effective in Nation at Increasing Latino Student Success in the United States. 
Read full article here.



Meet the new President of the University of Florida
The University of Florida and the UF Board of Trustees are proud to announce
as UF's 12th President. 
Find out more about the President here.

Support Us! 
Support future scholars by making a gift to the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program here.

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