Wednesday, October 16, 2013

2013 OLÉ Award Recipients


TAMPA, Fla. (October 10, 2013) – The University of South Florida’s College of Education (COEDU) is pleased to announce the 9th Annual Outstanding Latino/a Educator (OLÉ) Awards. The awards are given annually to outstanding Latino/a COEDU students who demonstrate exceptional performance and potential in the areas of teaching, research, and service.  The OLÉ Awards are highly regarded and a source of pride for recipients and their families, as well as faculty, the college, and communities supporting the educational advancement of Latinos. The criteria for the awards are posted on the section About the OLÉ Awards.

This year, eight students were nominated for the OLÉ Award by professors and instructors who recognized their outstanding talent. Dean Vasti Torres attended the event and remarked that nominees for the OLÉ award should be proud of their heritage and accomplishments. They are certainly an impressive and inspirational group, and each recipient received an award and a scholarship to further their studies. Award winners received an engraved glass award, while those students recognized with an honorable mention received a certificate signed by Dean Torres, the OLÉ Committee Chair, and Co-chair. Click here to view photos of the OLÉ Awards Dinner event. Winners and honorable mention in the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral level are listed below.

Undergraduate Level

OLÉ Award recipient: Alejandra Torres. Alejandra is a senior, majoring in secondary biology education. Born in Mexico and raised in Florida, Spanish was Torres’s first language. As a first generation in college student, she participated in the College Assistance in Migrant Program (CAMP) and now volunteers by tutoring others in the program. Drs. Allan Feldman, Dana Ziedler, Benjamin Herman nominated Alejandra for the OLÉ award. See the video of her nomination below.

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Honorable Mention: Valeria González. Valeria is a senior, majoring in social science education. Born in Puerto Rico, González moved to the United States when she was 12 years old. She serves as the only bilingual tutor in the tutoring lab at Hillsborough Community College, regularly helping Spanish-speaking students. Drs. Bárbara Cruz and Cheryl Ellerbrock nominated Valeria for the OLÉ award. See the video of her nomination below.

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Master's Level

OLÉ Award recipient: Maggie Mularz. Maggie is a graduate student in elementary education. She brings her Cuban heritage and international experience in theater and choral music to her studies and works at the Patel Conservatory in Tampa. Maggie has also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and worked with special needs children and those in the foster care system. Dr. Anne Anderson nominated Maggie for the OLÉ award. See the video of her nomination below.

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Honorable Mention: Scott Sandoval. Scott is a graduate student in secondary English education. As USF’s Student Body Vice President, Sandoval also sits as a Board Member on USF’s Board of Directors. He is president of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, which participates heavily in different philanthropies and community service projects. Dr. Joan Kaywell nominated Scott for the OLÉ award. See the video of his nomination below.

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Doctoral Level

OLÉ Award recipient: Jessica Vázquez. Jessica is pursuing a Ph.D. in School Psychology. Of Puerto Rican and Colombian heritage, Vásquez is passionate about promoting children’s positive development. She is collaborating with the “Starting Right, Now” program in the Tampa Bay area to investigate the mentoring relationships between unaccompanied youth and their mentors. Dr. Linda Raffaele Mendez and Sarah Kiefer nominated Jessica for the OLÉ award. See the video of her nomination below.

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For related information in Spanish, you may see a press release published by Centro Tampa. Congratulations to the 9th Annual OLÉ Award recipients! 

Friday, January 11, 2013

2012 Award Recipients

TAMPA, Fla. (October 10, 2012) – The USF College of Education (COEDU) is pleased to announce the Eighth Annual Outstanding Latino/a Educator (OLÉ) Awards.  The awards are given annually to outstanding Latino/a COEDU students who demonstrate exceptional performance and potential in the areas of teaching, research, and service.  The criteria for the awards are posted on the section About the OLE Awards.

Congratulations to our OLE Award recipients. They are an impressive and inspirational group. Winners and honorable mention in the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral level are listed below.

Undergraduate Level

OLE Award Winner: Jazmina Irizarry is completing her bachelor’s degree in Social Science Education. A student whose Cuban and Puerto Rican background is a source of pride, Jazmina is a certified lifeguard and gives back to her community by organizing swim events, family nights, and conducting in-service training and courses. She is currently completing her final teaching internship and will be graduating Summa Cum Laude in December.

Master's Level

OLE Award Winner: Luis Oliva-Ramos will be graduating with a master’s degree in Social Science Education in December.  A native of Cuba, Luis is a teacher in Manatee County at a school with large numbers of Latino/a students, many of whom are immigrants. He has a keen interest in the education of diverse populations and promotes a culturally responsive approach to teaching. He is also involved in a number of service organizations and projects such as Habitat for Humanity, the American Cancer Society, the Great American Clean-Up, and the Florida Blood Services.

Honorable Mention: Vanializ Agramonte is pursuing a master’s degree in Social Science Education. At USF, she serves as a REACH Peer Educator in the Wellness Education department, a data collector for the Teacher Coaching Project, a member of the Undergraduate Research Board, and as an assessor at the Center for Urban Transportation Research. Of Dominican and Puerto Rican background, Vanializ also volunteers at the YMCA Community Learning Center in Sulphur Springs, the Jump Start University Experience, and at Tropic Isles Elementary.

Doctoral Level

OLE Award Winner: Vanessa Vernaza-Hernández, a native of Puerto Rico, is pursuing her Ph.D. in Science Education with an interest in coastal areas, climate change, and the teaching of science. She has participated in a number of research projects and has presented her work in a number of important scholarly venues to great acclaim. Vanessa is also involved in several service projects that benefit not only Latinos, but the community at large as well.

Honorable Mention: Tara Payor is completing a Ph.D. in English Education.  Born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York, Tara taught Language Arts for several years at the high school level and has also taught composition and literature courses at the community college level. At USF, Tara has taught four different courses in English Education and recently traveled to Washington D.C. as a part of the Tampa Bay Area Writing Project’s (TBAWP) advocacy committee to meet with members of Congress and legislative aides.