Top Florida Grads
Making the Grade
The best and brightest among Florida's undergraduates range from inventors to medical researchers to artists.
? Elizabeth Diaz, 21
Florida Institute of Technology (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)
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.