FAU Honors 2018 Talon Award Recipients

Talon Awards 2018

From left to right, Kevin Wagner, J.D., Ph.D.; Kira Wolack; Robin Rubin, FAU President John Kelly; Barbara Schmidt; Meghan DeFord, assistant vice president of alumni and community affairs at FAU; and Pablo Paez, chair of the FAU Alumni Association Board of Directors. (Photo by Alex Dolce)

By brittany sylvestri | 11/9/2018

Florida Atlantic University recently hosted its annual Talon Leadership Awards ceremony as part of Homecoming 2018. Since its creation in 1997, the Talon Awards have recognized outstanding leaders from the community, as well as FAU alumni, faculty and student body constituencies. Co-sponsored by the  FAU Alumni Association (FAUAA)  and  FAU Student Government , the ceremony and reception took place at FAU Tech Runway on FAU’s Boca Raton campus.

“The Talon Leadership Awards ceremony allows us to recognize the outstanding Owls among us,” said Meghan DeFord, assistant vice president of alumni and community affairs. “It is truly a celebration of unbridled excellence that unites alumni, campus and community leaders.”            

Honored at this year’s ceremony were Barbara Schmidt, businesswoman, philanthropist, and meditation and mindfulness teacher, with the President’s Talon Award; Robin Rubin, BSW ’07, MSW ’09, professor in the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work, with the Alumni Talon Award; Kevin Wagner, J.D., Ph.D., professor and department chair, in the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, with the Faculty Talon Award; and Kira Wolak, an undergraduate student in FAU’s College Business, with the Student Talon Award. 

Schmidt is a practitioner of mindfulness and meditation with more than 30 years devoted to spiritual and developmental research. She is the founder of Spirit of Giving Network and co-founder and past president of Ronald McDonald Children Charities of South Florida. Schmidt is the author of the internationally bestselling book, “The Practice: Simple Tools for Managing Stress, Finding Inner Peace, and Uncovering Happiness,” and founder of the nonprofit organization Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life. She has been on more than 100 retreats and studied with teachers around the world, including the Dalai Lama. She recently launched The Barb Schmidt Fellowship for Cultivating Community Involvement, Activism, and Social Change at FAU, a program that aims to provide student leaders with a platform to develop the skills and knowledge needed to initiate, execute, and sustain a social movement. 

Rubin teaches social work in FAU’s Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work and is very involved in the Boca Raton philanthropic community. She has served on the foundation board for Boca Raton Regional Hospital, Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach County, the executive board of the Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center, South Palm Beach Jewish Federation, and Norman and Ruth Rales Jewish Family Services. She serves on the Boca Raton Regional Hospital’s Go-Pink challenge committee and on the Women’s Advisory Council for the Christine E. Lynn Women’s Health & Wellness Institute. Rubin founded the community advisory board for the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work and serves on the board as faculty representative. 

Wagner teaches politics, in addition to acting as chair of the Department of Political Science in FAU’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters. He also serves as faculty-senate president, and is a member of FAU’s Board of Trustees. His work has been published in leading journals and law reviews including American Review of Politics, The Journal of Legislative Studies, and Politics and Policy. Wagner has presented at several national conferences and has lectured extensively on American politics. His recent work focuses on the effects of technology on politics and campaigning and he is currently completing a book “Click and Reboot: How the Internet is Revolutionizing American Politics.” He also serves as a leading political science expert for various media outlets across the world.

A 2017 graduate of FAU High School, Wolack will receive a dual-degree in accounting and English from FAU in December at the age of 19, while earning a 4.0 GPA. She will start her graduate studies in accounting at FAU in January 2019. Wolack is part of the Accounting Scholars Program at FAU and is the community service director for Beta Alpha Psi at FAU, an accounting honors society. She was named Undergraduate Researcher of the Year by the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters for the 2017/2018 academic year, and has an internship lined up at Ernst & Young for Summer 2019. Wolack currently collaborates with her faculty adviser to rally FAU’s accounting majors in spreading financial literacy to foster youth through programs such as Educate Tomorrow and Guardian ad Litem of Palm Beach County.

For more information about the Talon Awards and the FAU Alumni Association, visit faualumni.org.