Alumni Newsletter Spring 2015

Letter from the Director

Hello Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Alumni,


A lot has happened in the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program since the last newsletter. At the end of the fall semester, we hosted the First Generation Summit, two more MFOS alumni shared their post-UF journey through the Featured Alumni Talks series, and UF's 500,000th degree was awarded to one of our graduating seniors.


This semester has already proved to be nothing short of amazing. In January, we secured funding to welcome 50 new scholars into the program and began the 6th cohort of the Florida Opportunity Scholars Academy of Leadership. In addition, we hosted 2 more alumni as part of the Featured Alumni Talks series.


The program continues to grow and impact the lives of our scholars. We continue to create events and programs that cater to the needs of our scholars, and of course you, our alums. Please enjoy reading through the program updates, as well as student and alumni news from the past few months.


Go Gators!



Leslie Pendleton 

Supporter Spotlight 

Ms. Kim Pace, a native of Hilo,Hawaii and the Assistant Vice-President for Student Affairs at the University of Florida, continues to be a committed supporter and advocate for the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program.


She earned her Bachelor's degree from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington and her J.D. from the University of San Francisco in San Francisco, California. After completing her J.D., Ms. Pace got married to her current husband and moved to Gainesville where she started working at the University of Florida while her husband pursued his MBA and later his J.D. She started working at the University of Florida in 1989 at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean's Office, moved to the Provost's Office in 2000, became Assistant Provost in 2010, Director of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs in 2011 and currently the new Assistant Vice-President for Student Affairs.


Over the years, she has taught the First Year Florida MFOS section, served on the MFOS Advisory Committee, and helped as a small group facilitator at several FOS Academy of Leadership retreats. Read more about Kim's story here.

Scholar Spotlight 
Aditta Riha
First Year Occupational Therapy Student 

Aditta hails from Orlando and graduated from Maynard Evans High School prior to attending UF. She is a freshman majoring in Occupational Therapy and is one of the new 50 scholars that were selected to join MFOS this spring.


Aditta met eligibility requirements initially however, an array of incidents prevented her from getting funding from the program. According to Aditta, because her Internet browser blocked all her pop-ups she was unable to see the information sent by the program. She ended up coming to UF with other financial resources, but it was during winter break that she got an early Christmas present.


One of her friends posted on Facebook that she had gotten MFOS. Aditta was quite confused since she was aware that MFOS recipients were only inducted at the beginning of the fall semester. She immediately emailed Leslie Pendleton, the Director of the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program to ask her if the scholarship was still funding because she saw that her friend had received MFOS when she was also eligible for the scholarship. Ten minutes passed after the email was sent and Leslie called Aditta and said "Hey Aditta, you're actually on the list of the new 50 scholars who will be funded by MFOS". If only Aditta had waited a few more minutes she also would have received a phone call about her receiving the scholarship. Regardless of Mrs. Pendleton calling her, Aditta was in disbelief and ecstatic about this scholarship. To read more about Aditta's story, please click here.

Alumni Spotlight

In our efforts to reconnect 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. 


Top Row: Adam Sotomayor & Jacquelyn McCullough
Bottom Row: Ed Gaines & Jackie Bonilla
Over the past four months, we have hosted four MFOS alums to talk to our current scholars via Google Talks or in-person. Adam Sotomayor talked to us about his position as a Presidential Management Fellow and Global Partnerships Advisor for the Secretary's Office of Global Partnerships in November via Google Talks. 


In addition, Jacquelyn McCullough visited us at the office in December. She is currently stationed in Tallahassee, Florida as a Preparedness Field Assignee for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. She works with the Department of Health to address emergency preparedness and recovery efforts in the State of Florida. 


Recently, both Ed Gaines and Jackie Bonilla visited us in February. Ed Gaines, born in Tallahassee, Florida; is currently working for PepsiCo as a Geo Foodservice Representative. During his spare time, Ed volunteers with INROADs and National Black MBA Association. Jackie, is from Miami, Florida and is currently working at the University of Florida's Dean of Students Office as the Assistant Director of New Student and Family Programs. 


Adam, Jacquelyn, Ed, and Jackie are currently or have pursued graduate school after graduating from the University of Florida. Want to be featured like these MFOS alumni? Please contact Andres Vergara for more information. 

Current MFOS and UF News

Opportunity Scholar Awarded UF's 500,000th Degree

Christian Cruz, an Orlando native, has been named the university's symbolic 500,000th graduate.
Read full article here.
MFOS Scholar, Erica Aguiar, blogs on first-generation students!

Check out her blog and explore the University of Florida's first-generation population.

See her blog here.  

First Generation Summit helps students claim their stories
The summit's theme, "Claiming Your Story," was aimed at encouraging first generation college students to understand, share, and reflect on their story.
Read full article here.

2015 FOSAL Retreat 
The 6th Cohort of the Florida Opportunity Academy of Leadership has officially begun. Click here to see what they learned during their retreat. 

Join the MFOS Facebook Alumni Group
We want to stay connected with you. Please join the Facebook group to learn more about incoming alumni events.
Click here to join the group.

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