The Prestigious Awards & Fellowships Reception and Award Ceremony

The Prestigious Awards and Fellowships Reception and Award Ceremony is an annual event that recognizes the accomplishments of UM students who have participated in nationally competitive scholarship programs and provides other high-achieving students the opportunity to learn more about these unique awards.

During the event, students who have applied to and distinguished themselves in national award programs will receive a certificate recognizing their achievement.  General invitation guests, who are invited based on their academic record, will have an exclusive opportunity to hear from and participate in a Q&A session with a panel of UM student and alumni recipients of awards like the Fulbright, Goldwater, Boren, and Pickering among others.  President Shalala and representatives from the Provost’s Office will speak to attendees, and light refreshments will be available.  The 2015 reception will feature an Afro-Uruguayan drumming performance led by Frost School Alumnus and Fulbright U.S. Student Grant recipient, Clifford Sutton.

Couldn’t make it to the 2015 Reception and Q&A with Fellowships Alumni Panel? View the video here.

2015 Prestigious Awards Student & Alumni Panel

Natalie Cain, A.B. ‘13, is from Chicago, IL and at an early age realized her passion for the culture, geography and Spanish language of Latin America through high school Spanish class and a volunteer trip to Guatemala.  She attended the University of Miami to study International Studies and Spanish as a way to continue exploring these interests, and midway through she started pre-medical studies after learning about global health. After graduating from the U in 2013, she spent one year in Ecuador on a Fulbright U.S. Student Grant studying the epidemiology of Chagas disease in impoverished, tropical communities. Natalie is currently an MD/MPH candidate at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, hopeful to continue work in neglected tropical diseases and global public health with the CDC or WHO as a career.  Natalie is excited to work with the CDC this summer on dengue case analysis in Guatemala.

Dina Dajani, B.S. ‘14, is from Coral Springs, FL, and has always had a passion for science and studying the brain. Dina began her academic career at the University of Miami as a neuroscience major. Early on, she started to conduct psychology research studying autism. Realizing that she wanted to pursue research as a career, Dina also completed summer research internships at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. As a junior, Dina was awarded the Barry M. Goldwater scholarship for her research experience and interest in pursuing a career in neuroscience research. Currently, Dina is a graduate student in the Behavioral Neuroscience Ph.D. program in the UM Department of Psychology. She conducts developmental cognitive neuroscience research by studying the brain networks of children and adolescents with autism. Dina hopes to pursue a career in autism brain imaging research as a University professor.

Xinning Shirley Liu, Esq., A.B. & B.B. A. ‘06, is President of XL Law and Consulting P.A., where she concentrates her practice on higher education, international and business law. She advises higher education institutions on operating educational activities in China, as well as companies on doing business in China. She formerly served as Assistant General Counsel at the Office of the General Counsel at Florida International University.  She has clerked at the Miami Regional Office of the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission, served as a summer associate for Foley & Lardner LLP and worked as an associate at Carlton Fields Jordan Burt.  She is an active member of the Florida Bar where she currently serves as a Diversity Fellow of the Business Law Section, as well various other Sections and subcommittees. Born in China, Shirley is fluent in Mandarin and Fujianese.  She received her B.A. and B.B.A from the University of Miami, and her J.D. from the University of Florida. She was a Fulbright U.S. Student Grant recipient to China in the area of law and economic development, and a National Security Education Program (“NSEP”) Boren scholar to Beijing and Hong Kong.

Nicolas Augustus Rongione, B.S. ‘15, was an actor before pursuing a career in aerospace engineering and physics with a minor in mathematics at the University of Miami.  Motivated to solve some of the grandest challenges facing mankind, Nicolas has participated in several research internships with the National Science Foundation, NASA, and ultimately, with the German Academic Exchange (DAAD).  The Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) Scholarship afforded him the opportunity to work in robotics at the Max-Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, Germany, developing an aerial manipulator on a quadcopter platform.  As President of the UM Chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Nicolas has spearheaded a space program through the CANESat satellite program in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. He is currently in the process of deciding on where to accept an offer for completion of his PhD in aerospace engineering.

Kristina Rosales Kostrukova, A.B. ‘10, is a Foreign Service Officer with the US State Department. She has served in Havana, Cuba and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Kristina holds a Master’s in Public Health and Latin American Studies from Columbia University. She received her undergraduate degree in International Affairs and Political Science from the University of Miami. In 2008, Kristina was awarded the Thomas R. Pickering Scholarship and the David L. Boren award to study abroad in Brazil. Upon graduating from UM, Kristina received a Fulbright U.S. Student Grant to conduct research on crack cocaine use and trafficking in Brazil. She speaks Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

Clifford Sutton, D.M.A. ‘13, is a percussionist and music educator with diverse experience in contemporary, orchestral, and world percussion. The recipient of a 2011 Fulbright U.S. Student Grant in Ethnomusicology, Sutton has devoted himself to the study and promotion of candombe, an Afro-Uruguayan music and dance with the drum as its central instrument. He has given numerous presentations on the subject, including appearances at the 2012 Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Conference and the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in 2013. A member of the PAS World Percussion Committee, Sutton serves as Lecturer of Afro-Caribbean percussion at the University of Miami, where he also teaches rhythm classes through the Frost School of Music Preparatory Program. Additionally, he serves as the Coordinator of Music Performance and Education with the S. E. Wimberly Library at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Sutton earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, and holds degrees in percussion performance from the University of South Carolina and the University of Florida.