Major/degree (both undergrad and grad): Marine affairs and policy/Bachelors of Arts, and marine affairs and policy in aquaculture/Masters of Science.
Why marine science? “I was that child that was plastered to the side of the killer whale tank at Seaworld as a child. As I grew and learned more about the marine sciences, I saw the need to take the pressures off of destructive “wild catch” fisheries. I saw aquaculture (fish farming) as an opportunity to help provide seafood without destroying our oceans in the process. I have also focused in policy so I can be the scientist in the room that can talk to the policy makers, or the policy maker in the room that knows the science. Trained in both aspects of the field gives me a unique perspective and understanding of our environmental and protection needs. I’m fascinated with international and ocean policy. It is my career goal to be on an international convention panel making decisions for the future of our marine resources.”
Hobbies? “I love ballroom dancing, I am a pageant girl, I am involved in many community safety programs, collecting HotWheels (I have over 1,400), and I love volunteering and fundraising for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals system.”
What campus orgs have you been involved in? “I was an instructor for Miami Ballroom and was on their performance and competition team for two years. That was so much fun! I have also played a little bit of badminton and I am a force to be reckoned with at SportsFest. I currently chair the Community Traffic Safety Team and manage safety issues for all three campuses. I work with the UM Police Department, UM Crime Prevention, and the Florida Department of Transportation for safety events and educational fairs.”
How long have you been doing pageants? “I tried my first pageant freshman year of college. I competed at Miss University of Miami and was a runner up. After that, I thought ‘I can do this!’. Junior year, I went all out and signed up for every Miss America local. I decided that I was going to win – and I did! I was Miss Homestead 2013, finally won that Miss University of Miami title in 2014, placed Top 10 at Miss Maryland as Miss Western Maryland, and I am currently serving as Miss Florida Everglades. It has been 4 years of make-up, dress-up, service, sparkle, princess waves, hospital visits with Children’s Miracle Network children, and so much more. I received over $8,000 in scholarships from the Miss America Organization for my service and STEM(Science Technology Engineering Math) work.”
So you’re a former Miss University of Miami, how was that experience? “I have made great connections and have had a voice for my accomplishments and my work. Having a crown and sash turns heads. With that attention, I can talk about my safe driving program and my story, promote my sponsors, and speak on behalf of the other wonderful philanthropies that I work with. One time, I had Al Golden hold a line to get a picture with me because he was so excited that we had a Miss UM. Sebastian also becomes your best man when you’re queen of the campus!”
What is your platform and why? “My platform is RED – Responsible & Educated Drivers. This is my safe driving program that I started in 2012. At 16, my back was broken in a serious head-on car collision. My father also received a traumatic brain injury in the same collision and lost his memory. After ‘pouting’ and being angry at the world, for the year after, I decided to get up and do something about dangerous intersections with high fatality rates, like the one that my accident took place at. Since then, I fixed that intersection, worked on many intersections around main campus, sent some proposals in for signage on LeJune, and am currently working on the main entrance to the RSMAS campus. I have also toured to over 16 colleges and high schools, telling my personal story, to make drivers think twice about making poor decisions behind the wheel. My life will forever be affected from one choice that another driver made, and now I live with the consequences and channel my challenges into positive progress and change.”
What’s a really interesting fact people don’t know about you? “I am a marine science student that is allergic to fish! I can handle the fish and work around them, but I cannot eat fish or fish oil. I am also allergic to caffeine. No, my morning routine is not pretty. However, by 10 a.m. I am always ready to conquer the world!”