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Matheus Kunzler Maldaner


Bold Points






Currently enrolled in the University of Florida pursuing a major in Data Science and a minor in Computer Science, I seek to further my education by pursuing a PhD on Machine Learning upon graduation. Having migrated from Brazil with my family for a better education, I hold my academic curriculum very highly as to value my parents' sacrifices. Overall, I consider myself to be a determined, hard-working and diligent student striving for a future I can be proud of.


University of Florida

Bachelor's degree program
2021 - 2025
  • Majors:
    • Computer Science
    • Data Science


  • Desired degree level:

    Doctoral degree program (PhD, MD, JD, etc.)

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Data Science
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Statistics
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Machine Learning

    • Dream career goals:


    • President

      Data Science and Informatics Institute
      2023 – Present1 year
    • Resident Assistant

      University of Florida
      2022 – 20231 year
    • Vice President

      American Statistical Association
      2023 – Present1 year
    • Researcher

      Florida Institute of National Security
      2023 – Present1 year
    • Sushi Chef

      Bento Asian Kitchen and Sushi
      2021 – 20221 year
    • Sushi Chef

      Sus Hi Eatstation
      2021 – 2021



    2008 – Present16 years


    • Machine Learning

      Florida Institute of National Security — Researcher
      2023 – Present


    • Personal Game Project

      Computer Art
      2023 – 2023

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      Marjory’s Garden — President
      2017 – 2021

    Future Interests



    Chris Jackson Computer Science Education Scholarship
    My name is Matheus Kunzler Maldaner, a dedicated undergraduate at the University of Florida, majoring in Data Science with a minor in Computer Science. Originally from Brazil, I moved to the United States seeking better educational opportunities and safety, a journey that has profoundly shaped my academic and personal development. Today, I am deeply engaged in the field of computer science, particularly in the realms of machine learning and AI transparency. My academic journey has been driven by a fervent passion for machine learning and the ethical implications of AI. At the Florida Institute of National Security, I have been conducting a literature review and research in Neuro-Symbolic AI, focusing on combining symbolic reasoning with neural networks to create transparent and understandable AI models. This work is not just an academic pursuit; it's a mission to ensure that the AI systems of the future can be trusted and used ethically in diverse applications. This summer, I am privileged to extend my research at Carnegie Mellon, where I will be auditing generative AI models. This opportunity is a significant step towards my goal of obtaining a PhD in Machine Learning upon graduation next year. My aim is to contribute to groundbreaking discoveries in AI, ensuring that these technologies enhance human life while maintaining ethical standards. Receiving the Chris Jackson Computer Science Education Scholarship would significantly alleviate financial burdens, allowing me to focus fully on my studies and research. Scholarships like this are not just financial aids; they are investments in the future of technology and in the individuals who strive to make that future bright and ethical. In honoring Chris Jackson's legacy, I see a reflection of my own values: a commitment to meaningful engagement, a drive to innovate responsibly, and a desire to contribute positively to the community. My journey from Brazil to the forefront of AI research is a testament to the transformative power of education and the enduring value of hard work and integrity. As I pursue my PhD and advance in my career, I am committed to developing AI technologies that are not only powerful but also principled. With the support of the Chris Jackson Computer Science Education Scholarship, I will continue to strive for excellence, innovate with responsibility, and uphold the spirit of curiosity and compassion that defines the best of our field.
    Schmid Memorial Scholarship
    In the heart of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School lies a sanctuary not just of flora but of healing and resilience - Marjory's Garden. This garden became a cornerstone of my life, especially in the aftermath of one of the most harrowing days in our school's history. As a freshman, I was at the school during the tragic shooting that claimed seventeen lives and shook the foundation of our community. The proximity to such profound loss and the sheer randomness that spared me from being a direct victim have shaped my journey in unexpected ways. Marjory's Garden became more than a place to learn about horticulture; it transformed into a haven where I, along with many others, found solace and strength. As the president of the garden club, I led over 100 volunteers in nurturing this space, turning it into a symbol of growth amidst grief. It was here, amidst the new life of plants, that I learned the therapeutic power of nature and community. This experience taught me that adversity doesn't just challenge us - it invites us to find deeper meaning in our actions and to forge a path of resilience. By caring for the garden, I wasn't just tending to plants but also to my own healing process and that of my peers. The garden became a living testament to our ability to rise from tragedy and transform pain into purpose. This journey through adversity has not only shaped my view of the world but also deepened my commitment to community service. It has shown me the importance of creating spaces that offer peace and reflection, and it has inspired me to continue supporting others through whatever challenges they face. In embracing this path, I've learned that true strength comes from the ability to grow and adapt, much like the plants in Marjory's Garden. This scholarship will enable me to further my education and continue building on the lessons of resilience and service that I've learned in the heart of adversity
    Ken Landry Memorial Scholarship
    From the sun-drenched tracks of Brazil to the hallowed fields of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, my athletic journey, though not as a competitor but as an inspired student, has profoundly shaped my life. My transition from Brazil to the United States introduced me to a new world of challenges and opportunities, though language barriers and cultural differences were significant hurdles that athletics helped me overcome in spirit. My passion for track and field transcended the physical sport as I engaged deeply with Coach Scott Beigel, who was more than a coach to me - he was a mentor and a guide in the intricate maze of life. As my geography teacher and an inspirational figure, Coach Beigel saw potential in me beyond the classroom and shared with me a printed list of programs for my future in science and technology. His tragic loss in the 2018 school shooting left an indelible mark on my heart, igniting a deep-rooted passion to honor his legacy by helping others and pursuing excellence in every aspect of my life. Today, as a Data Science undergraduate at the University of Florida, I channel the values of resilience, focus, and leadership learned through my interactions with Coach Beigel into my academic and research endeavors. My commitment is to advance the field of artificial intelligence, particularly through machine learning and ethical AI, to enhance transparency and trust in technology. I have been fortunate to be selected to continue my research journey this summer at Carnegie Mellon, focusing on auditing generative AI models. This opportunity not only allows me to delve deeper into the nuances of machine learning and AI but also to apply ethical principles in evaluating and improving the transparency and fairness of these powerful tools. This work is a testament to the values Coach Beigel instilled in me: a commitment to rigorous inquiry and a dedication to ensuring that advancements in technology are aligned with the highest standards of integrity and public good. Through the Ken Landry Scholarship, I seek to amplify these efforts, bridging cultures and disciplines to create a more inclusive and understanding world. My work in ethical AI aims to ensure that technology serves humanity with integrity, echoing the lessons of empathy and support that Coach Beigel exemplified. As I aim for a PhD in this transformative field, my goal is to be a beacon of innovation and a testament to the enduring impact of those who inspire us. In honoring the memory of Coach Beigel and the spirit of Coach Ken Landry, I am committed to using my journey and achievements to inspire and uplift others, ensuring that their legacies continue to resonate and inspire future generations.
    Dreamers Scholarship
    Navigating the realm of higher education as a non-U.S. citizen has been a journey of resilience, adaptation, and profound learning for me. Born and raised in the vibrant culture of Brazil, I moved to the United States with my family in pursuit of safety and a brighter future. This transition wasn't just a change in geography; it was a leap into a world of new opportunities and challenges, especially in education. As a Data Science undergraduate at the University of Florida, with a minor in Computer Science, my academic journey has been fueled by a relentless pursuit of knowledge and a deep passion for Artificial Intelligence (AI). However, achieving this has not been straightforward. As a non-U.S. citizen, I've navigated through barriers that often seemed insurmountable. From adjusting to a new educational system to overcoming the language barrier, each obstacle has been a stepping stone, reinforcing my determination and resilience. The funding from the Daisy DACA Foundation would not only alleviate the financial burden of my education but also enable me to fully immerse myself in my research and academic pursuits without the looming stress of financial constraints. It would allow me the freedom to focus on my work at the Florida Institute of National Security, where I am currently researching Neuro Symbolic AI - a field that promises to make AI systems more transparent and aligned with human reasoning. My background as a non-U.S. citizen has profoundly impacted my educational journey, teaching me the value of perseverance, adaptability, and the importance of embracing opportunities. It has instilled in me a unique perspective that I bring to my studies and research, enriching discussions with diverse viewpoints and a deep appreciation for the nuances of global and ethical considerations in technology. Moreover, this scholarship would significantly impact my future, paving the way for me to pursue a PhD in Machine Learning. My goal is to contribute to the development of ethical AI technologies that can solve complex global challenges, from healthcare to environmental sustainability. This ambition is not just about advancing my career but about giving back to the community and creating a positive impact on the world. The journey of a non-U.S. citizen in the American educational system is fraught with challenges, yet it is also filled with opportunities for growth and achievement. The support of the Daisy DACA Foundation would be a testament to the power of education to transform lives and break down barriers, allowing students like me to reach our full potential and contribute meaningfully to society, regardless of our citizenship status. The funding from the Daisy DACA Foundation represents more than just financial assistance; it symbolizes belief in the potential of immigrant students to achieve greatness and make a difference. It affirms that our backgrounds, while challenging, also equip us with unique strengths and perspectives that can enrich the tapestry of American education and innovation.
    John Young 'Pursue Your Passion' Scholarship
    In the aftermath of tragedy, where the very fabric of my community at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was torn asunder, I found solace and purpose in the stars. This harrowing experience on February 14, 2018, reshaped my worldview, embedding within me a deep resolve to harness the power of science and technology for the betterment of society. My field of interest, data science, emerged from a fascination with the cosmos to a determined pursuit of using data to solve complex societal issues. Growing up in Brazil and then transitioning to life in the United States amid significant adversity, I was drawn to the boundless possibilities of the universe. This curiosity was nurtured by my geography teacher, Mr. Beigel, who supported my aspirations to be an astronomer but whose life was tragically cut short. The shift from astronomy to data science signifies my evolving quest for knowledge - from exploring the vastness of space to unlocking the potential of data to improve human lives. The core of my professional dream is to pursue a PhD in Machine Learning, with a focus on developing transparent AI systems. This interest stems from a keen awareness of the ethical implications of AI and the conviction that technology should be wielded responsibly to benefit humanity. Transparent AI promises a future where technology's decision-making processes are no longer inscrutable black boxes but open for scrutiny, ensuring fairness, accountability, and public trust. This scholarship represents a critical opportunity to advance towards my goals. Financial support would significantly alleviate the challenges of funding my education, allowing me to devote my full attention to academic excellence and research endeavors. Moreover, the scholarship would enable me to engage in vital networking and learning opportunities, further honing my skills and preparing me for the rigors of a PhD program. My vision extends beyond academic achievements; I aspire to contribute to groundbreaking research that lays the foundations for AI systems which enhance rather than obscure our understanding of the world. By driving forward the development of transparent AI, I aim to ensure that future technologies serve as tools for societal advancement, embodying the principles of equity and justice. The journey from witnessing a devastating school shooting to aspiring for a PhD in Machine Learning encapsulates my commitment to transforming adversity into a catalyst for positive change. This scholarship is not just a means to an end but a validation of a path chosen in the aftermath of tragedy - a path that leads to a future where technology and humanity converge for the greater good.
    ADHDAdvisor's Mental Health Advocate Scholarship
    Navigating the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as a freshman, I could never have anticipated how a single day’s events would pivot my outlook on life and the subtle ways we can contribute to mental health. The tragedy that unfolded within our school walls underscored the significance of community and support in healing from trauma. In the aftermath, Marjory's Garden, our high-school's garden, became more than just a green space; it transformed into a sanctuary of solace and recovery for me and my peers. This garden taught me the value of offering a quiet place for reflection and the impact of subtle, non-verbal forms of support on mental well-being. Leaving high school and moving to college at the University of Florida, my role as a Resident Assistant further honed my understanding of peer support. It wasn't about grand gestures but the small, everyday actions - listening, being present, and fostering an inclusive community. These experiences deepened my appreciation for the myriad ways we can assist each other emotionally, even without a direct focus on mental health advocacy. My academic journey in Data Science and AI research, though not directly tied to mental health, embodies a commitment to transparency and ethical technology use. My work in Neuro Symbolic AI at the Florida Institute of National Security lab aims to make AI solutions understandable and reliable. While this research doesn’t intersect with psychology, it's guided by a principle that resonates deeply with mental health advocacy: clarity breeds trust. In a broader sense, developing transparent AI can indirectly support fields like psychology by ensuring that technological tools used in these domains are both accessible and comprehensible. Looking forward, my career ambitions lie in the realm of AI, with a focus on pioneering transparent and ethical AI systems. This commitment, while not directly linked to mental health, is influenced by the understanding that every field, including mental health, benefits from technology that is clear, understandable, and trustworthy. My journey, from the reflective paths of Marjory's Garden to the complexities of AI research, is a testament to the belief that we all have a role to play in supporting each other - whether through direct advocacy or the ethical development of technology.
    Eleven Scholarship
    Facing challenges can profoundly shape our character and trajectory, especially when those challenges push us to go beyond our perceived limits. One such pivotal moment for me occurred during my high school years, shortly after moving from Brazil to the United States. This transition was marked not only by cultural and linguistic barriers but also by a significant academic challenge that tested my resilience and determination. In my first year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, I was placed in a standard level math class due to administrative oversights regarding my educational background from Brazil. For someone who had always been passionate about mathematics and science, this placement was not just disappointing; it felt like a setback in my academic journey. The curriculum was something I had mastered years before, and sitting in that class, I felt my enthusiasm for learning wane as my peers struggled with concepts I found elementary. Determined not to let this situation deter my academic ambitions, I decided to "turn it up to 11" and take matters into my own hands. I approached the challenge with a strategy that involved self-advocacy, perseverance, and a commitment to excellence. I initiated meetings with school counselors, articulated my case with evidence of my previous coursework, and sought the support of my parents and former teachers to advocate on my behalf. This process was not without its frustrations; navigating the bureaucratic labyrinth of school administration was a challenge in itself. However, my efforts paid off when I was finally placed into advanced placement and honors courses the following year. This experience was a turning point for me, teaching me valuable lessons about self-advocacy, the importance of perseverance, and the need to challenge systemic barriers to achieve one's goals. It reinforced my belief in the power of taking bold steps to overcome obstacles and in the importance of fighting for what you believe in. This ordeal not only affected my academic trajectory, propelling me towards my current pursuit of a degree in Data Science at the University of Florida but also shaped my approach to challenges. It taught me that going above and beyond isn't just about personal gain but about setting a precedent for how barriers can be overcome with determination and the right strategy. To anyone facing similar circumstances, my advice is to embrace the challenge as an opportunity to grow. The process of overcoming obstacles often reveals our true potential and can lead to successes we never imagined possible. It's about not just navigating the system but learning how to advocate for oneself and others in pursuit of equity and excellence. As I continue on my path, this experience remains a reminder of the resilience and determination that define me. It underscores my commitment to not only pursuing a career in STEM but also to leveraging my skills and experiences to make a meaningful impact in the world.
    SigaLa Education Scholarship
    In the symphony of the universe, every star, planet, and galaxy dances to the rhythm of mathematical laws, a testament to the profound impact of STEM on understanding the cosmos and beyond. My journey into the heart of STEM, specifically into the realm of Data Science and Machine Learning, is fueled by an insatiable curiosity about the universe and a deep-seated desire to unravel its mysteries through the lens of technology. As Matheus, my name subtly hints at an innate connection with mathematics, but my story diverges into the realms of data science and artificial intelligence, reflecting my ambition to harness technology to make significant contributions to society. Choosing Data Science as my field of study was a deliberate decision influenced by the realization that data, in its vastness and variety, holds the key to understanding complex systems, from the biological networks within our bodies to the sprawling expanses of the universe. My short-term goal is to deepen my understanding of machine learning algorithms and their applications in real-world problems. Simultaneously, I aspire to contribute to research that seeks to merge neural networks with symbolic reasoning, creating more transparent, explainable AI systems. My long-term ambition is to lead innovative projects that push the boundaries of artificial intelligence, making technology more accessible, ethical, and impactful for humanity. Being an underrepresented minority in the STEM field has infused my journey with unique challenges and perspectives. It has highlighted the disparities in access to opportunities and resources, making each step forward a testament to resilience and determination. This background has not only shaped my personal and academic growth but has also instilled in me a profound sense of responsibility to advocate for diversity and inclusion within STEM. My goal is to not only succeed in my field but to also pave the way for future generations of underrepresented minorities by mentoring, advocating, and creating spaces where diversity is celebrated as a source of strength and innovation. The financial aspect of pursuing higher education, especially in STEM, cannot be underestimated. Scholarships play a pivotal role in enabling students like me to focus on our academic and research pursuits without the constant burden of financial constraints. This scholarship would significantly alleviate the financial pressures associated with tuition, textbooks, and living expenses, allowing me to dedicate more time to research, community engagement, and academic excellence. Furthermore, it would enable me to participate in conferences and workshops, expanding my network and exposing me to the latest advancements in my field. Moreover, this scholarship represents more than just financial assistance; it is an affirmation of my potential to contribute meaningfully to the STEM field. It acknowledges the unique challenges faced by underrepresented minorities and provides the support necessary to overcome these barriers. With this scholarship, I would be empowered to pursue my passions relentlessly, driven by the knowledge that my journey could inspire others from similar backgrounds to explore the boundless possibilities within STEM. In conclusion, my choice of study in Data Science and Machine Learning, rooted in a deep love for mathematics and a desire to impact the world positively, aligns with my goals and aspirations. As an underrepresented minority, I am acutely aware of the challenges and responsibilities that accompany my academic journey. This scholarship would provide invaluable support, enabling me to pursue my dreams with vigor and contribute to a future where diversity and innovation go hand in hand, shaping a world where technology serves as a beacon of hope and progress.
    Learner Math Lover Scholarship
    In the intricate tapestry of my life, threads of numbers, equations, and formulas weave a story that resonates deeply with my soul. Mathematics, in its purest form, is the language of the universe, a universal code that underpins the fabric of our existence. My name, Matheus, subtly carries the essence of 'math' within it—a serendipitous nod to the passion that shapes my intellectual pursuits and dreams. My love for math is not just about solving problems or crunching numbers; it's about the elegant simplicity and profound complexity that coexist within every equation. It's about seeing the world through a lens that transforms the chaotic into the comprehensible, the unknown into the known. Mathematics is the cornerstone of innovation, a beacon of logic in a sea of uncertainty, guiding humanity toward greater understanding and advancement. This passion was ignited in the most unlikely of places: my school's garden, under the tutelage of a teacher who saw the universe not only in the stars but in the numbers that make sense of their vastness. My fascination with astronomy, nurtured in this garden, is a testament to math's boundless application. It's in the trajectory of a comet, the orbit of a planet, and the very structure of space-time itself. Why do I love math? Because it empowers us to decipher the cosmos, optimize the world of technology, and navigate the complexities of human existence. From the algorithms that drive our digital age to the statistical models that predict future trends, math is the silent force propelling us forward. My ambition is to harness this power, to contribute to the field of machine learning, where math is the key to unlocking artificial intelligence that can enhance and safeguard our future. But beyond the ambition lies a deeper need—a need to pay homage to a universe that operates on the principles of mathematics, to be part of the grand equation that is life. In a world where uncertainties abound, math provides a constant, a beacon of truth in the quest for knowledge. And so, in my name and in my essence, math is not merely a subject but a lifelong journey of discovery, challenge, and endless fascination. This scholarship represents not just financial assistance but an affirmation of a path less traveled—a path paved with numbers, theories, and the bold ambition to make a difference through the universal language of math.
    Shays Scholarship
    My journey towards higher education and a deep-seated passion for the field of artificial intelligence within the broader realm of computer science were catalyzed by an experience that unfolded in the heart of Marjory's Garden - a living classroom and a testament to resilience at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. As a high school student, volunteering in this garden taught me the symbiotic relationship between growth in nature and personal development, echoing the fundamental principles of science: observation, experimentation, and evolution. This experience not only solidified my commitment to pursue a degree in science but also instilled in me a profound appreciation for the transformative power of education. The decision to major in data science, with a focus on artificial intelligence, stems from a fascination with the complexities of human cognition and the endless possibilities of mimicking such intricacies through technology. What excites me most about this field is its potential to revolutionize how we live, work, and interact with the world around us. From healthcare to environmental conservation, AI holds the promise of solving some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity, all while opening up new frontiers of knowledge and innovation. The prospect of contributing to this transformative journey, of harnessing the power of AI to foster positive change and improve lives, fuels my desire to dive deeper into this discipline. However, the path to pursuing this passion is not without its hurdles. The financial aspect of higher education poses a significant challenge, potentially limiting access to the resources, mentorship, and opportunities necessary to thrive in such a dynamic and rapidly evolving field. The Shays Scholarship represents a beacon of hope in this journey, offering a lifeline to students like me who are determined to break through the barriers to education and achieve their dreams. By alleviating some of the financial burdens associated with pursuing a degree in science, this scholarship would enable me to fully immerse myself in my studies, engage in cutting-edge research, and participate in meaningful projects that align with my aspirations of contributing to the ethical development and application of AI. Moreover, this scholarship would allow me to continue dedicating time to volunteer efforts, fostering a spirit of community engagement and social responsibility that I've carried since my days in Marjory's Garden. It is my belief that the true value of a scientific education lies not only in the acquisition of knowledge but in the application of that knowledge for the greater good. I am committed to embodying this principle, leveraging my education in data science to create innovative solutions that are accessible, ethical, and beneficial to society at large. In conclusion, the Shays Scholarship would not merely support my academic endeavors; it would empower me to pursue a career that intersects with my deepest passions and societal contributions. It affirms the belief that financial barriers should not deter aspiring scientists from realizing their potential and making impactful contributions to the world. With this support, I am eager to embark on a journey that transcends personal achievement, aspiring instead to contribute to a future where science and technology serve as pillars of a more equitable, sustainable, and thriving world.
    Friends of Ohm Labs Scholarship
    Embarking on an academic journey in ethical AI for transparency, my pursuit has always been fueled by a desire to merge the boundless potential of technology with core human values. This journey began with a significant life transition - from Brazil to the United States - driven by a quest for quality education and opportunities to delve into the intersection of STEM and societal betterment. While financial considerations are a reality for most international students, including myself, the primary impetus for seeking scholarships is to fully immerse myself in research and educational experiences that the field of ethical AI demands. Moving from Brazil to the United States marked a pivotal decision, motivated by the aspiration of a safer environment with more opportunities for education. This transition introduced challenges inherent to adapting to a new educational system and culture, yet it has been a catalyst for personal and academic growth. Financial prudence has been necessary, yet it has never been the sole determinant of my educational journey. Instead, I've sought to maximize every opportunity for learning and development within the constraints of my circumstances. A scholarship would significantly augment my ability to concentrate on my academic goals by alleviating some of the financial pressures associated with my education. More importantly, it would empower me to contribute more actively to the field of ethical AI. My goal is to ensure that AI technologies are developed with a keen focus on transparency and accountability, aligning technological advancements with societal welfare and ethical standards. My dream of becoming a researcher in ethical AI for transparency stems from a profound belief in the power of technology to effect positive societal change. In a world increasingly guided by algorithms, establishing transparent AI systems is crucial. It ensures that technology acts in service of humanity, promoting fairness and equity across all sectors, from healthcare to justice. By advancing in this field, I aim to foster a future where AI is both innovative and inclusive, capable of enhancing public trust and democratizing the benefits of technological progress. Realizing this vision promises to have a broad and meaningful impact on society. Ethical AI can bridge the gap between rapid technological innovation and our collective moral framework, ensuring that advances in AI contribute to a just and equitable world. Through my research and advocacy, I am committed to guiding AI development in a direction that uplifts communities globally, ensuring that the leap forward in technology equates to a leap forward in human values and societal well-being. In essence, this scholarship symbolizes a commitment to a future where the paths of technology and ethics intersect, providing a platform for students to fully engage with their academic and research pursuits. It transcends financial assistance, serving instead to empower a diverse group of dedicated students to channel their passions into meaningful contributions that promise to enrich society. This support plays a crucial role in equipping the next generation of scholars and innovators with the resources they need to advance in fields critical to our collective well-being. By fostering the development of AI systems grounded in transparency, ethics, and the public interest, the scholarship helps pave the way for a more equitable and informed world.
    TEAM ROX Scholarship
    In the journey of life, we often find our purpose and passion through acts of service and kindness, learning that the true measure of success is not in our accolades but in the positive impact we create in the lives of others. My commitment to service and helping others reach their potential was profoundly shaped by my involvement with Marjory's Garden, a volunteer project that became a cornerstone of my personal and educational growth. As an undergraduate student at the University of Florida, I have always sought to balance academic rigor with a deep commitment to community service. Marjory's Garden was not just a volunteering project; it was an embodiment of selflessness, a living tribute to resilience, and a community’s capacity for healing. As a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, transitioning to a new country and educational system, I faced challenges that tested my resolve and spirit. Yet, it was through my involvement in the garden, both in high school and carrying this spirit into my undergraduate years, that I discovered my ability to effect change and support others in their quest for growth and healing. Developing my skills in leadership, teamwork, and empathy, I led initiatives within the garden that not only transformed physical spaces but also fostered a sense of belonging and community among students and staff. We cultivated not just plants but also resilience, offering a peaceful retreat for reflection and connection. This experience taught me the importance of creating spaces that nurture both the environment and the human spirit, reinforcing my passion for helping others become their best selves. Embracing the values celebrated by this scholarship, I have made it my mission to extend the principles of selflessness and service beyond the garden and into every aspect of my life. In my academic pursuits in STEM, I am driven by a desire to leverage technology for social good, aiming to develop solutions that address real-world challenges and improve lives. My volunteering experiences have provided a strong foundation in collaboration, innovation, and empathy - skills that I apply in my studies and research to create impactful, community-centered technologies. Moreover, my commitment to service has inspired me to mentor and support my peers, sharing knowledge, offering encouragement, and fostering an environment where everyone feels empowered to achieve their full potential. Whether through tutoring sessions, collaborative projects, or community outreach, I strive to be a catalyst for positive change, embodying the generous values of the incredible individual in whose memory this scholarship is awarded. Receiving this scholarship would not only provide essential financial support as I pursue my education but also affirm my dedication to embodying selflessness in my journey to help others. It would enable me to further my academic and volunteering endeavors, deepening my impact and continuing to inspire others to embrace their potential and contribute positively to their communities. In the spirit of the remarkable individual commemorated by this scholarship, I am committed to a life of service, driven by the belief that helping others be their best is the most rewarding and impactful purpose one can pursue. My experiences in Marjory's Garden have been a guiding light, reinforcing my ambition, drive, and passion for making a difference - one life, one community at a time.
    Simon Strong Scholarship
    In the fabric of my life, woven with threads of adversity, one of the most vibrant strands has been my dedication to volunteering and community service, epitomized by my involvement in Marjory's Garden at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. This initiative was not just a garden; it was a sanctuary for healing and growth, both for the environment and the individuals who cultivated it. My role in this project was deeply personal, stemming from my journey as a Brazilian immigrant who faced the dual challenges of adapting to a new culture and overcoming the trauma associated with being part of a school community during one of its darkest moments—the tragic shooting that claimed the lives of seventeen individuals. The adversity I encountered, both as an immigrant grappling with a new language and educational system and as a survivor of a school shooting, profoundly shaped my outlook on life and my educational journey. Marjory's Garden became a conduit for my healing and a platform for contributing positively to my community. It taught me the importance of resilience, the power of nature in healing, and the value of giving back. Through this project, I learned to transform adversity into action, leading initiatives to beautify the school campus, promote environmental sustainability, and provide a peaceful retreat for students and staff. This experience has imbued me with a profound understanding of the impact of community service on personal growth and healing. To those facing similar circumstances, my advice is to seek solace in service. Engaging in volunteer work can provide a sense of purpose and community, helping to navigate through adversity. It demonstrates that even in our darkest times, we can find light in the service of others. Although I am not BIPOC, my background as a Brazilian immigrant has exposed me to unique challenges and perspectives, particularly regarding the disparities in access to education and opportunities. My commitment to volunteering, especially in projects like Marjory's Garden, is a testament to my belief in the power of education and community engagement to transcend barriers and foster inclusivity. This scholarship represents not only financial support but also an affirmation of the values that Simon M. Humphrey stood for—advancing education for underrepresented students and empowering them to overcome adversity. As I pursue my degree in STEM, this scholarship will enable me to continue my volunteer efforts, delve deeper into my studies, and strive towards a career that embodies the principles of innovation, equity, and social impact. In honoring Simon M. Humphrey's legacy, I am committed to leveraging my education and experiences to contribute to a more inclusive and compassionate world.