July 24, 2014

Top Florida Grads

Making the Grade

The best and brightest among Florida's undergraduates range from inventors to medical researchers to artists.

Barbara Miracle | 5/1/2007

? Elizabeth Diaz, 21

Florida Institute of Technology (Melbourne)

Hometown: Melbourne

Major: Mechanical engineering

Notable: Team leader for 12-member project to develop an electric racing car, which won the Florida Electric Auto Association's "Best Design" award in January. The car, which can travel 85 mph, will compete this month at Formula Hybrid, an international design and engineering competition. President of FIT's chapter of the Society of Women Engineers and vice president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers on campus. Married since her freshman year, she has worked at Harris Corp. during all four years of college.

Plans: Work in robotics or animatronics.

? Sonya Vialva, 21

Florida State University (Tallahassee)

Hometown: Miami

Majors: Social work and creative writing

Notable: Conducted classes on empowerment and goal setting at the Brehon Institute for Family Services, a shelter for pregnant women in Tallahassee. Intern at Florida Baptist Children's Home. Worked as an intern for Rep. Rene Garcia. Copy editor at student newspaper and Edge magazine.

Plans: Master's degree in clinical social work. May run for political office.

? Austin Shaw, 22

Florida Atlantic University (Fort Lauderdale)

Hometown: Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Major: English with a minor in history and certificate in classical studies

Notable: Student body president and student member of the FAU board of trustees. Saul Edelman Memorial Award in history.

Plans: Graduate school at Oxford University in England, where he is one of 50 Americans accepted to a three-year master's in theology honors program. He plans to continue on to a doctorate and teach at the university level.

Tags: Education

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