In conjunction with The David and Wanda Brown Center for Leadership and Service, part of the University of Florida Department of Student Activities and Involvement, two groups of UF students were recently awarded $10,000 each by the philanthropy Projects for Peace to help bring their local and global humanitarian projects to life.
“It’s easy to celebrate good works after they’ve happened, but it takes a great deal more strength to invest in a dream before it’s realized,” said Assistant Alex Tepperman, a graduate assistant at the center tasked with assisting the students in formalizing their projects for submission. “The Davis Foundation is unique in its active empowerment of our remarkable undergraduates’ dreams.”
In economically depressed Pinellas County, Florida, chances to learn and achieve are few and far between, but TEAMS – aka Tarpon Excelling Above Modern Society – aims to change that. Created by UF students and Pinellas County natives Jeanette Misuraca and Djoni Austin in cooperation with Tarpon Springs Citizens Alliance for Progress (CAP), the Boys and Girls Club, Cops and Kids and the Tarpon Spring Recreation Department, the TEAMS program will provide 100 children ages 7 to 13 the opportunity to “discover their life’s passions” during a free, four-week summer art, music and athletics camp. Misuraca and Austin plan to engage students with music and sports, as well as helping them develop understandings of teamwork and leadership.
“There is fulfillment in life when our opportunity and privilege can actively benefit the lives of others,” said Misuraca.
On the other side of the globe, UF students Sulav Shrestha, Mackenzie Shepard and Harsh Patel – under the umbrella of Engineers Without Borders – will be in Khanalthok, Nepal, to help ensure clean, potable water for children, as well as improving hygiene overall. On a spring 2014 trip to the area, the group discovered harmful levels of bacteria in the water, a problem badly exacerbated by earthquakes. To counteract this, Shrestha, Shepard and Patel will set up wash stations and water fountains, as well as male and female latrines, at Shree Janahit Secondary School in cooperation with local craftsmen and contractors. The centerpiece of the Water for Khanalthok project will be a rainwater catchment system at the school, allowing community members to capture thousands of gallons of water to save during times of drought.
“Everyone on the Engineers Without Borders UF Nepal team has worked very hard to make our project, Water for Khanalthok, possible,” said Shrestha. “Now that we have the support of the Davis Foundation we are ecstatic to see our project come to life and be able to make a difference in the lives of the villagers.”