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Class Acts

Darius Graham, 21
Florida A & M University

Major: Political science

Notable: Founder of national philanthropy program Books All Around (booksallaround.org), which creates libraries at community centers and donates books to underprivileged children. Won a grant for funding from mtvU. Volunteered with Boys and Girls Club. Captain of mock trial team, founder and former president of Honor Student Association, former student attorney general and author of the ethics code for campus student government. Hosted campus talk radio news show, interviewing now U.S. Sen. Barack Obama and former presidential candidate John Edwards' daughter Cate. Plays the piano. Took part in Florida's Gubernatorial Fellows Program, working with senior staff doing policy research at the Department of Children & Families in the Office of Homelessness.

Plans: Law school before eventually working as general counsel with a non-profit foundation or as vice president of governmental affairs for a major corporation. Cara Castellana, 21
Florida State University

Major: Economics, with minors in mathematics and public administration and policy

Notable: Named FSU's top economics student. While interning at the Federal Reserve Board in 2004, met and received thesis advice from new Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Mentors a first-grader in reading, answers phones for Florida Association of Community Action Hunger Hotline and worked in a soup kitchen. On campus, participates in Judicial Review Board and Honors Council. Selected as top student by Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society.

Plans: Graduate school for a doctorate in political economics on a prestigious $30,000 Harry S Truman scholarship. Eventually wants to work on welfare reform, possibly at the U.S. Department of Labor. Taylor Liput, 22
Nova Southeastern University

Major: Psychology

Notable: Co-founder and president of NSU Surf Club, which started an annual event teaching abused children to surf. Charter member of campus rowing team. Received National Scholar Athlete for Division II award. University's Female Athlete of the Year. Won campus Outstanding President Award for Surf Club. Leadership Roundtable Scholar and member of Alpha Chi National Honor Society, Honors Program Association and Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society. Served as secretary of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology.

Plans: Volunteer work in Peru, then study toward a master's degree in social work. Wants to work with abused and neglected children through a government agency or non-profit. Brian Cody, 22
New College of Florida

Major: Sociology

Notable: Traveled to Costa Rica to produce a documentary on sustainable practices. Taught children about conflict management in a Montessori after-school program. Works as a research assistant on a grant and is co-teaching a class. Has been involved in the Truth anti-tobacco advertising campaign since its early days, most recently producing a promotional video. Student body president for two years. Served on committees to select new dean and new provost and to consider campus master plans and construction. Was involved in Florida Student Association lobbying group. Plays soccer and is learning violin. Speaks proficient Spanish.

Plans: Graduate school for a doctorate in sociology. Has applied for a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Spain. Eventually wants to work as a professor and a consultant on sustainable development issues. Tatiana Melnik, 24
University of North Florida

Major: Double major in international business and information systems, graduated in December.

Notable: Co-owner of small business called The Cyber Web, a web-hosting service provider, since 2000. Has volunteered with Hubbard House domestic violence shelter, Heart of America Foundation's elementary school book program, Boggy Creek Gang camp for terminally ill children and Dignity U Wear. Co-founded UNF's annual Kids' Fest spring event for underprivileged children. Interned with World Affairs Council in Jacksonville. Received Senior Service Award from UNF. Member of University Scholars, Phi Kappa Phi and Golden Key national honor societies. Served as a UNF Presidential Envoy and in student government as a senator, justice and assistant chief justice. Received separate scholarships for leadership and gender equity and was named Presidential Envoy of the Year in 2005. Speaks English, Ukranian and Russian.

Plans: Law school to study international property rights and eventually work in international human rights. Cal Everett, 21
University of South Florida

Major: Political science, graduating in three years instead of four

Notable: Teaches government to high school students in summer program at American University in Washington, D.C., specializing in Republican campaign strategies and homeland security issues. Is now program supervisor. Attended Campaign Management Institute at American University this year. Has worked since high school on political campaigns in Hernando County, from school board to U.S. Senate races. Former member of co-ed sailing team. Transferred to USF after freshman year at Florida Atlantic University, where he founded College Republicans and served as a senator in student government.

Plans: Law school, eventually to practice criminal law, specializing in federal criminal defense for white-collar crime.


KIDS CAUSE: empowering kids at the Spring Hill Boys & Girls Club in DeLand.
Matt Morton, 21
Stetson University

Major: Political science, minor in Spanish.

Notable: In high school, was part of a group of Pinellas County youths who raised more than $1 million to create four teen centers. Presented keynote speech about the experience at age 17 for the White House's first National Youth Summit. Serves as vice chair of the National Council on Youth Policy. With other Stetson students and the Boys & Girls Club, developed a youth empowerment program for the disadvantaged community of Spring Hill, helped create Youth As Resources foundation operated by young people who award grants to their peers, and helped Stetson join the Bonner Foundation philanthropy program, which he leads as the university's Bonner Senior Intern. Worked for Sen. Bill Nelson as intern and congressional fellow. Serves as youth advocacy coordinator for Southeastern Network of Youth & Family Services, which covers eight states and 80 membership agencies. Served as philanthropy chair for Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity. Runs cross-country and sky-dives.

Plans: Graduate school for dual master's in social service administration and public policy or an MBA in public policy. Plans to take off school for two years after graduation to continue his work setting up youth empowerment programs in Guatemala and to co-write a book about the international youth empowerment movement. Robert Dickerson, 23
University of Florida

Major: Computer engineering

Notable: Has received international recognition for creating an on-screen virtual patient that makes eye contact and answers doctors' questions about specific symptoms. System is used for training medical students in interviewing and diagnosing patients. Has presented his work at technical and medical conferences in New Orleans, Germany and Los Angeles. Avid swing-dancer who teaches swing-dancing twice a week and choreographs a dance troupe. Took part in the America's Cup Jubilee sailing race in England in 2001.

Plans: Graduate school for computer science or systems engineering. Eventually become a professor and/or software consultant. Terri-Ann Bennett, 22
University of Miami

Major: Psychology, pre-med

Notable: President of United Black Students on campus. Only student on the school's board of trustees, with full voting privileges. Vice chairman of the Rathskeller Advisory Board and student government executive secretary. Tapped by Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society and Mortar Board National Senior Honor Society.

Plans: Medical school to study obstetrics and gynecology. Wants to have her own ob-gyn practice and start a non-profit to work with minority women and teens to tackle healthcare disparities and teen pregnancies.