Alumni Spotlight Archives
BA Sociology 93
Charles Bender, BA Sociology 1993, is the founding CEO of Place of Hope, a faith-based and state-licensed family-style residential child-caring agency, located in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. For 20 years, Place of Hope has provided shelter for abused and neglected children. Bender has also been a team member of several other local leading organizations including: Palm Beach County Housing and Community Development, Adopt-A-Family of the Palm Beaches, Inc., and the City of Delray Beach Community Development Division. The majority of Charles’ work has involved low-income individuals and families, homeless and substance abusing populations, and at-risk/dependent children and youth. In 2019, he was the recipient of The Rotary Club of Boca Raton’s OPAL Award, 2019. Watch Charles' interview with the FAU social team: https://bit.ly/2OQHUlk
MA History 2006
Alysha Butler, MA, History, 2006, won the 2019 National History Teacher of the Year Award. She is currently a social studies teacher at McKinley Technology High School in Washington, D.C. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History chose Lehrman because she “has a unique gift for combining history, civics and civic activism in her teaching.” She will be honored at a ceremony in New York City in October and John Avlon, senior political analyst and anchor at CNN, will present her with the award. The award is accompanied by a $10,000 prize. Also, many winners become future master teachers for the Institute. Butler also won the 2019 Daughters of the American Revolution Outstanding Teacher of United States History Award, was a 2019 GrantEd Recipient, and was selected as the 2010 Miramar High School Teacher of the Year.
BA Political Science 2019
Noah graduated from FAU in 2019 with a major in Political Science and a minor in Business Administration. Noah is currently working for Joe Biden for President in Iowa as a Field Organizer. During his time at FAU, Noah was involved in Student Government where he served in multiple capacities, including Speaker of the House. Before working on the Biden campaign, Noah interned with FAU Athletics as a Marketing Intern and the U.S. House of Representatives as a Congressional Intern.
BA Political Science and Interdisciplinary Studies 2007
Senator Janelle Sarauw, BA Political Science and Interdisciplinary Studies 2007, was named the 2019 Distinguished Alumni for the College. Sarauw was re-elected to the 33rd Legislature of the Virgin Islands on November 6, 2018. She has penned into legislation bills that support youth development, encourage workforce development, and propel the Territory forward. Her signature legislation, the State Apprenticeship bill, became law during the 32nd Legislature. The bill amends the VI Code related to apprenticeship standards, authorizing and mandating the Department of Labor to promulgate regulations pursuant to becoming a recognized State Apprentice Agency, providing more job opportunities for the youth of the Virgin Islands. Throughout her term, Senator Sarauw has also proposed and stated her position regarding controversial bills on the environment, economic development, education, probate, expungement, and was the primary sponsor of the Division of Festival, now law.
Senator Sarauw has been honored by Under 35 Emerging Leaders, NBC News Out, and was recently keynote speaker at the 2018 Victory Fund LGBTQ Conference. She was inducted as an honorary member of the Golden Key Honour Society and has received many other civic awards.
South Florida native Taylor Tyson is the recently crowned Miss Florida 2018. She is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Florida Atlantic University with a degree in Political Science. With a strong dedication to academics beginning in grade school, Taylor received the Nicholas Green Gifted Student Award for the state of Florida, an academic scholarship to attend the Laurel Springs Academy for the Gifted throughout high school, and remained a member of the National Honors Society. At Florida Atlantic University, she held places on the President's and Dean's List each semester for maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Taylor was inducted into the national honors fraternity Phi Kappa Phi and the international pre-law fraternity Phi Alpha Delta for superior academic performance. She also served as Executive Editor of one of the nation’s eleven Undergraduate Law Journals, receiving recognition from FAU’s Provost for her article, “The Precarious Relationship of Law and Society” being published in the scholarly journal. With a passion for politics and academic collaboration, Taylor represented FAU as a member of their award-winning Diplomacy Delegation at National Model United Nations competitions in New York City and Washington D.C. She will be attending Villanova Law School in the Fall. More information about Taylor here:
School of Communication Multimedia Studies
is in his second career after serving in the Army’s 82nd
Airborne. He was awarded the Purple Heart after sustaining injuries in his last deployment to Afghanistan.
decided to pursue a career in journalism after encountering numerous journalists on his deployments, which lead him to study at FAU.
He was encouraged to write for the University Press, and quickly rose through the ranks to become news editor. The UP taught him how to work in a newsroom, and understand the workflow of bringing a story from concept to published piece. It also provided him with a portfolio of work that he could show local news outlets.
graduated from FAU in May 2016. He then attended Columbia University Journalism school as the 2017 Chancellor Scholar, where he received his Masters of Science in Journalism. After grad school,
went on to work at Bloomberg News covering the energy market.
works for NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt producing investigative, enterprise and breaking news stories.
“If you’re interested in the industry, you owe it to yourself to get involved in student media. Nothing can compare to working alongside peers to produce content you can be proud of.”
BA/BS Commercial Music
Salomon Palacios was recently named to
2019 edition of the “Top 30 Under 30 People in the Music Industry.”
In his work as co-manager at Universal Music Latin Entertainment/Global Talent Services, Palacios has guided the careers of some of the top Latin talent in the industry, namely J Balvin, the first Latin artist to achieve 1 billion streaming spins on Apple Music. The singer also teamed up with “30 Under 30” alumna Cardi B on the summer smash, “I Like It.”
Salomon earned a Bachelor of Arts/Science in Commercial Music degree from FAU in 2013 and went on to earn a law degree from Nova Southeastern University. While at FAU, Palacios worked at Sony and he was the president of FAU’s Hoot Wisdom Recordings. “FAU’s commercial music program was instrumental in getting my start in the music industry,” said Palacios. “The program is unique in that it offers hands-on experience that you can’t get anywhere else. It’s the kind of experience that gets you noticed in the industry.” FAU’s Hoot/Wisdom Recordings is one of the most productive full-service university-affiliated record labels in the world. The label produces and records albums, extended plays and singles in state-of-the art studios at the Boca Raton campus. The mission of the label is to record and produce new music or under recorded music. Through FAU’s program, students are trained in all aspects of the music production process. “Salomon took advantage of all that our commercial music program had to offer,” said Michael Zager, founder and director of the commercial music program and Hoot Wisdom Recordings, and Dorothy F. Schmidt Eminent Scholar in the Performing Arts. “He is an example of what you can achieve through hard work and dedication.”
BA Multimedia Journalism 2018
Taylor graduated from FAU in 2018 with BA in Multimedia Journalism and a minor in Film and Video. After graduation, Taylor began her job as a Multimedia Journalist News Reporter at WTVA Channel 9, a NBC and FOX affiliate in Tupelo, Mississippi. In her current role, Taylor conducts interviews, pitches story ideas, reports live from the field, writes and edits her own stories, and much more. Before working for WTVA, Taylor held multiple internships, which helped to prepare her for a broadcasting job after graduation. Her internships included US Media Studios, NBC 6 in Miami, FAU athletics and CBS 12 in West Palm Beach. Taylor was also active in Owl TV during her time at FAU. Her advice to current students is “…I want to encourage everyone to be open for every opportunity even if it is not exactly what you want. There is a purpose for all of it, and it will shape you and make you better for your next step in life.”
BA Music Education 2010
Luc graduated from FAU in 2010 with a BA in Music Education. In 2013, Luc returned to his hometown of Saint-Marc, Haiti to give back to his community. Seeing a lack of opportunity and the level of poverty that people were living in, Luc was inspired to start the Artibonite Gospel Tabernacle (AGT). His mission was to provide a place for education (university), healthcare (hospital), and meet people's spiritual needs (worship center). On April 5, 2017 that vision came true when he purchased 31.9 acres to build the center. The new center will have a University, Hospital, a place of worship, and a conservatory of music. If you would like to learn more about AGT or donate to the project, please visit agtcenter.org. In addition to the center, Luc has been involved in the music community in both South Florida and Haiti. He started the Beauliere Academy of Music in 2005 in West Palm Beach, and opened a second location in Saint-Marc in 2013. Luc hopes to continue to help improve the Saint-Marc community through music, teaching people how to read, helping them get access to education, and more.
Todd S. Pugh
BA Political Science 1993
The FAU Alumni Association chose Todd Pugh as the 2018 Distinguished Alum for the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters. Pugh is currently a partner at Breen and Pugh Attorneys at Law in Chicago, IL. The law firm has earned the reputation of being one of the premier trial firms in Chicago by successfully handling some of the most complex criminal and civil matters in federal and state courts. After graduating from FAU, Pugh attended DePaul University College of Law where he was selected as a member of the “DePaul Law Review” and graduated with honors. “Leading Lawyers” named Pugh one of the best criminal defense lawyers in Illinois in 2007, and one of “Top Ten” defense lawyers 2012. In 2013, Pugh joined the faculty at DePaul University College of Law as adjunct professor. Most recently, Pugh was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in 2016. “My career path began right here at FAU when I was placed as an intern at the Palm Beach County Public Defender’s Office. The mentorship I received allowed me to see the criminal justice system through the eyes of the underserved and disenfranchised communities of our county. I was fortunate for this experience and have tried to apply those early lessons of compassion to my advocacy as a practicing criminal defense attorney.”
BA Multimedia Journalism 2015
A Florida native from Parkland, Racquel graduated from the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters with a major in Multimedia Journalism and a minor in Theatre. You can now find Racquel on the jumbo-tron or on the ice during intermissions at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida as the In-Arena Host for the Florida Panthers. Before joining the Panther’s organization Racquel interned at Y100 and the CW's South Florida affiliate station. Since graduation, she has also been invited to be the keynote speaker at Florida Press Association District 7 (FSPA) Workshop this past November. “I owe a lot of my knowledge and confidence in my field to my FAU journalism professors. They are the reason that I am achieving all that I am today. The Arts & Letters college really prepared me for what it is like to be out in the real world.”
BA Political Science 2002
While at FAU Corey participated in study abroad programs in Spain and Ecuador. He then earned a Masters in Spanish at FAU before joining the Peace Corps, which stationed him in Bolivia. Corey learned one of the native languages of Bolivia, Quechua, while working on projects in the mountains of the Andean country. He later joined USAID and was stationed in Peru. From there his career has taken him literally around the world, and his job has required him to continue to learn languages. His most recent posts required learning Russian and French. He is currently the Program Director for USAID in Cote d’Ivoire, where he is responsible for US development programs in health, inclusive economic growth, democracy and good governance in various countries of Africa. Corey was nominated as the 2017 Outstanding Young Owl for the College of Arts and Letters.
Elizabeth recently received a Carbonell Award nomination for her role in “Reborning” which was staged at Arts Garage. Elizabeth has worked as an actor and director in theatre and film in Los Angeles, New Orleans, Dallas, Austin, Atlanta, and New Mexico, but has now made South Florida her artistic home. She recently appeared at FAU’s resident professional company, Theatre Lab, in Steven Dietz’s “This Random World.” She has also appeared in Outre Theatre’s “The Normal Heart,” “The How and the Why” at Arts Garage, as Jack in Thinking Cap Theatre’s “The Importance of Being Earnest,” in City Theatre’s Island “Shorts” and “Standing on Ceremony,” and in several radio plays with Arts Radio Network. As a proud FAU alum, her last role at FAU was Barbara in “August: Osage County” which was named as one of the top ten best productions in South Florida in 2014In addition to her busy performance career, Elizabeth also teaches at FAU as an Adjunct Professor in Acting and Directing. Elizabeth is a consummate professional with tremendous talent who has quickly become one of South Florida’s most respected artists.
M.F.A. Theatre, ’90
Melissa was chosen as the FAU 2016 Alum for the College of Arts and Letters. Veteran of several Broadway musicals, Melissa Hart’s Broadway credits include “Candide,” “Scarlet Pimpernel,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “The Apple Tree,” “Georgy” for which she got a TONY nomination, and “Cabaret” in which she played Sally Bowles on Broadway and in the first national company. Off-Broadway credits include “Peg O’ My Heart,” “Radio Gals,” “Cat’s Paw,” “Tock Tick,” “Cyrano,” “Third Person,” and the award-winning “Fleet Week.” Hart received Philadelphia’s Philly Award, Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Award, and three South Florida Carbonell Awards. “I came to FAU as a successful, but only half-formed actor. I left a mature student of the theatre. Thank you Joe Conway, J. Robert Dietz, Jean-Louis Baldet, and Zoe Caldwell, among others. I am eternally grateful.”
Pablo Francisco Carreno Cabrejos
B.F.A. Theatre Performance & B.A. Spanish, '15
Pablo was nominated and selected by the Dean of FAU’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters to become a member of the Parliament of OWLs (Older, Wiser, Leaders). The Parliament of OWLs is an honorary leadership society of the FAU Alumni Association. Each year, a soon-to-be graduate/recent graduate from each FAU college is inducted into the society and honored with a commemorative pin, a replica of a burrowing owl feather. The society is for a select few students who have demonstrated leadership and aptitude during their tenure at the University. In 2015, only ten students have become members. Carreño graduated in 2015 with a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance and a B.A. in Spanish (dual degrees). Prior to beginning his literary and theatrical studies here at FAU, Francisco completed a BS in Mechanical Engineering in his native Peru and worked as project engineer and project manager for Loesche America, Inc. He came to FAU to pursue his true callings (Spanish Literature and Theatre). During his undergraduate studies at FAU, Francisco demonstrated truly exemplary leadership in many realms. He served as President of FAU’s Sigma Delta Pi Spanish Honor Society, Rho Omicron Chapter and in this context, represented FAU and the chapter in a local newscast reporting on a national award received by the FAU chapter. (See the Channel CBS12 News Feature here: - http://youtu.be/E6pk4e5vpTE ). He completed high-level honors research on “Sismología en la Fiesta del Chivo de Mario Vargas Llosa: Heteroglosia en la narrativa del trauma” and shared it formally with the FAU community in bilingual format—in English at the Undergraduate Research Symposium, and in Spanish at the Spanish Honor Society’s initiation ceremony in April 2015. He was a Spanish AcCESS Tutor (for all levels of the Spanish undergraduate curriculum) at the Center for Learning and Student Success (CLASS). In the context of his theatre studies, he was an integral member of many productions, in addition to producing and acting in El suplicio del placer, a Spanish-language performance made possible by Francisco’s deep engagement in both of his chosen disciplines. Francisco has demonstrated exemplary service across multiple departments and contexts, for the enrichment of the entire FAU body.
Holly was recently recognized by “Business Insider” as one of the “15 Most Amazing Women in Science Today.” Anthropological archaeologist Moyes explores caves and examines artifacts to understand the rituals of ancient people. By studying the artifacts left by ancient Mayans, Moyes hopes to both preserve Mayan culture and discover stories of these ancient people. Moyes has spent the past 20 years exploring more than 100 caves in Belize, finding everything from tools to sacrificial remains to everyday pottery, to uncover how the Mayans' ideologies were created and maintained. Discovering the why behind ancient people's decision-making allows us to understand the implications of their decisions. One particular ritual Moyes focused on was why Mayans performed human sacrifices deep inside of caves. Though it's a developing theory, Moyes believes the Mayans cared deeply about rain (their lands were dry for many months of the year) and left increasingly large sacrifices to their god, Chac, to lift a devastating drought. Moyes is an assistant professor at the University of California at Merced. http://www.businessinsider.com/coolest-women-in-science-2015-7
Pat started his FAU music experience at TOPS Piano Camp when he was in grade school, and went on to become a commercial music technology major. During his final year at FAU and during the summer after graduation, he toured Europe and much of the United States playing bass for a professional blues band. For the past year he has been playing electric and upright bass in musical theatre shows, sound designing live theatre, engineering albums and singles, and working at FAU as an AV technician for the Lifelong Learning Society, where he was also hired to design and implement acoustic treatment and other audio improvements to the Barry and Florence Friedberg Auditorium. This fall he will be returning to academia as a graduate assistant to pursue a master’s degree in music technology at Georgia Southern University. “I loved the TOPS atmosphere and the fact that I got to meet so many other people my own age learning the same instrument. Being able to interact with other kids was absolutely crucial to my musical development.”
B.F.A., Music, ’95
Marlow was named the 2015 Distinguished Alumni for the College of Arts and Letters. With 11 nominations and one American Grammy already on his shelf, Marlow Rosado is a driving force in the tropical music industry. He has more than two decades of experience as a pianist, composer and producer, and a powerful portfolio that includes work with top Latin recording artists including Ricky Martin, the late Tejana singer Selena, Tito Puente, the late Salsa legend Celia Cruz, and many more. After teaching elementary school in Miami for 10 years, Rosado decided to take a leave of absence to open what has become a successful recording studio, bringing in top international recording artists. He is continually sought out by his fellow artists for his musical arrangement and directorial skills. It is not uncommon to see Rosado’s name on album liner notes as a pianist, producer, songwriter or musical director. Rosado took center stage in 2009 when he released his first album “Salsalsa” under Fania Records. In 2012, his sophomore album “Retro” surprised not only him but the entire industry when it won the 2012 Grammy for Best Tropical Latin Album, beating out gigantic bachata artist Romeo Santos. In July 2014, Rosado released his third album “Salsanimal,” a beast of a production. Rosado received the Premio La Musa Elena Casals Award at this year’s Latin Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and is now working on his fourth album, set to be released in June 2015. He’s proud to say that FAU helped to prepare him for this amazing world of music.
B.A. Political Science, '11
Jenny has been hired by the United Nations Relief Works Agency. She will be working out of Amman, Jordan. Baez was a member of FAU’s Diplomacy Program, competing in the 2010 National Model United Nations (NMUN) conference in New York, and the 2010 European Model United Nations event in The Netherlands. She also joined the FAU AmeriCorps program. After graduating from FAU, Baez pursued her graduate degree at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), a renowned social sciences school in Europe. Her two-year Master's degree was focused on international security, particularly centered on the Middle East. As part of her study, Baez completed a six-month internship in Amman, Jordan with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). After completing her M.A., Baez was hired by the UN to continue her work with refugee relief.
B.A. Music ’08
will have his composition of a First Music commission titled “If You see Something, Say Something” performed by the New York Youth Symphony in the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Petuch was a commercial music major in the Department of Music and later attended the Mannes School of Music. More information on Petuch’s accomplishments can be found here http://www.nyyouthsymphony.org/first-music/brian-petuch
Rory O’Connor, Jr.
B.A. Communications, ’95
Rory received the FAU 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award. Rory was chosen for his service to our nation, service to our veterans, and service to FAU as an outstanding graduate. Rory was raised in South Florida and after high school served as a member of the U.S. Navy SEALs for eight years. He then returned to South Florida to pursue a degree in the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies. After graduation, Rory became a financial adviser and his 30-year career includes work as vice president of JP Morgan and financial advisor for Edward Jones Investments. He also created, and is now vice director of, the Tampa Bay Frogman Swim for the Navy SEAL Foundation, which aids active duty Naval Special Warfare personnel and their families. The event has raised more than $700,000 over four years and is used as a model for a nationwide series of swims/fundraisers for the Navy SEAL Foundation.
Judith Ortiz Cofer
Judith of Athens, GA, has been named the University of Georgia's 2013 recipient of the Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award. She is currently the University’s Franklin Professor of English and Creative Writing. Ortiz Cofer is a two-time Pulitzer-Prize nominee and received the FAU Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters' Distinguished Alumna Award in 2012. Ortíz Cofer was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in 2010 and in 1994, she became the first Hispanic to win the O. Henry Prize for her story “The Latin Deli”. In 1996, Ortíz Cofer and illustrator Susan Guevara became the first recipients of the Pura Belpre Award for Hispanic children’s literature.