Student Presenters

Chris Vazquez


My name is Chris Vázquez, and I am a senior at the University of Florida.  I believe my purpose in life is to live, to love, and to leave a legacy.  I have strived to carry out this purpose throughout my time at UF, and I’ve had a blast doing so.  This April I will conclude my undergraduate career by graduating with a major in finance and a minor in leadership, after which I will move to New York to work for UBS Financial Services.  As a Challenge 2050 Scholar, I have had the opportunity to live my passion by searching for ways to give back to the global community while focusing on the people of Cuba.  Serving as the president & chairman of the nonprofit organization Inspire Cuba has been my greatest joy, and I hope to continue this work in the future.

One day a good friend told me about a proverb he had read by an unknown author that went, “We don’t inherit this world from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”  That saying has resonated with me ever since mainly because of how it describes the nature of our beautiful planet.  The Earth isn’t something we own during our lifetimes.  It is an enduring place of abundance that will always belong to future generations.  As such, I believe that we are to be stewards of our world, and that it is our duty to ensure its livelihood for those who come after us.  This is an unprecedented time in our history where our world as we know is in critical danger.  Therefore it is my duty and my passion to do whatever I can to ensure its vitality for my children and theirs.

Rock A. Aboujaoude, Jr.


Rock A. Aboujaoude Jr., current President and co-founder of the American Jacobin Club, is an avid supporter of Revolutionary American values and ideals. His philosophical approach revolves around “doing the most amount of good for the most amount of people”. Inspiration for the Jacobins came from attending Boys State and his belief in honest government. Born and raised in the state of Florida, he is currently a senior at the University of Florida pursuing a Bachelors in Food and Resource Economics. From there, he hopes to pursue a career in Law and a possible career in politics.

Contrary to many modern outlooks on the future of the world, the ability of the human race to overcome challenges to achieve even greater heights is surely what will save us from a world predicted to fail. For Rock, the “future” generations involved in overcoming those challenges are “present” today.  To fight the increasing odds against humanity will require a unified people who comprehend the dangers ahead and positively approach their solutions.  Rock is passionate about the unification of people to saving the world because this is the first step to solving the greater problems of population and competing ideologies that current generations and future generations will be forced to combat.

Rebekah Schwartz


Since my first day at the University of Florida, I have been challenged to find my passion. UF has introduced me to field of study that I have fallen in love with – the field that has challenged me to relentlessly pursue the person I am today. As a third-year student who values enthusiasm, inclusivity, and justice, I chose to pursue a Public Health major with double minors in Health Disparities and International Development & Humanitarian Assistance. I am passionate about health equity, community health education, and the elimination of health disparities. I am a firm believer that health is a human right and as a society, we have a responsibility to ensure this right to every individual. A single person cannot hold all the answers, but collectively, we can find a way to improve the lives of everyone around us.

Trends in health are contingent on behaviors and determinants. Health is a basic right that every individual is entitled, but certain populations are stripped of this right due to their life circumstances. When I reflect on the fact that, by 2050, the world population will exceed 9.725 billion, I immediately think about the growing gap between the advantaged and disadvantaged with regards to health outcomes. By focusing on the determinants and behaviors that create this global disparity, we can build a society that provides equitable health outcomes regardless of an individual’s upbringing. Communities should be equipped with the proper access to health services and health education to eliminate the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged populations. Everyone deserves the right to live a long and healthy life. Now is the time to ensure that our communities are equipped to solve global health issues of the future.

Kayla Waldorff


I am a first year masters student in Agriculture Education and Communication with a focus in Leadership. I am also a 5th generation Floridian from Evinston, Florida and my great grandfather started a vegetable farm that has transitioned into a cattle farm still operational today. Additionally, throughout my undergraduate studies at UF I tried to gain experience in as many sectors of agriculture as I could. I succeeded in equine with the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners Association’, seed with H.M. Clause and most recently, produce with Freshpoint Central Florida.

I have been with the Challenge 2050 project since its inception and have developed the passions of education, food insecurity and hydroponics/vertical farming. I have found my home in hydroponics and produce because there is never a dull moment, everyone is like family and I want to be a part of an industry that changes the way people look at and buy their food.


I will be 56 in 2050. Handling our growing population is a real-world problem that we can turn into a revolutionary opportunity and even someone like me can have an effect on the world. This is not going to be solved with one solution that is going to affect everywhere. It is going to be many people working on their passions to create many different things.

I want to make a contribution to feed the world and make a significant impact on future generations. I believe that vertical hydroponics is not the only option, but a major option for feeding the population in a world that is running out of space. Hydroponics and vertical farming are important to me because food is where it all begins, everyone has to eat and understanding the impact of what you eat and where your food comes from is so important for improving and strengthening our society.

Marcela Mulholland


I am a 19 year old human who is trying my best to have a positive impact on the world around me. I am a friend, a daughter, an eye- gazing enthusiast and meditation advocate. I am double majoring in Sustainability Studies and Political Science at University of Florida and hope to pursue a career in climate policy. I also work as an outdoor guide for UF’s travel and recreation program and enjoy spending time in nature with my peers. In my free time, I like to explore different artistic mediums through which to express myself, including painting and sculpture.

Throughout college as my global and environmental awareness has expanded, so too has my awareness of the unique position of privilege I occupy in our current global system. As an American citizen born into a financially stable, supportive family I have been gifted with many life quality- enhancing opportunities. From access to education to food security and safety, the many ways in which my life has been easy, in comparison to the majority of the world’s population, are innumerable. My passion for saving the world stems out of a feeling of necessity and moral imperative to do good with what I have been given.

I am also motivated by the lives of my ancestors. Thinking of the hardships that those who came before me faced and overcame reminds me of the responsibility I have to use my life to better the world and ensure that their legacies live on with dignity.

Drew Carlton


When I was fourteen years old, I first read the poem, “Ulysses.” In its closing, the speaker vows, “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” Those words highlight my attitude and exemplify my true identity. I will endlessly strive to bring compassion to my actions. I will continuously seek to connect my passion for a topic with progress. I will find innovative solutions and continue my devotion to research. And I will refuse to yield, constantly pushing my peers and I to be better than we were the day before. I am these four definitive actions, but on the surface, something definable. My name is Drew Carlton and I am currently in my fourth and final year at the University of Florida. I study Microbiology and Cell Science and will be entering dental school in the fall of 2017 with the ultimate goal of becoming an Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon. Much of my life focuses on child healthcare, and for that reason, I look to one day perform cleft lip and palate surgery on pediatric patients, hopefully in underrepresented areas of the world. I am 21 years old, hailing from the island of Sanibel, Florida. My life has been blessed with an extended combined family totaling 15 siblings. Throughout my undergraduate career, I have conducted science within the Food Science Human Nutrition and Family Youth and Community Science departments. All of these experiences have molded my comprehension and appreciation of the vibrant world and people surrounding me daily.

In a word, I believe that my purpose in this life must be to exude hope wherever it is needed. As I have grown, the appreciation for different temperaments, cultures, and people in general has lead me to fight for all. Our world faces many challenges, but I have been fortunate enough to experience a dynamic value of education, enabling me to bring my knowledge into the areas that need it most. One of my favorite quotes comes from Norman Rice and proclaims, “Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light.” My experiences, knowledge, and love for humanity are meaningless without action. I dare to reach out my hand in the darkest of moments and bring the light of hope to those in need.



Student Presenters

Krystal Dixon


I am a lot of things. I am a combination of experiences, identities, and passions. I am an 3rd year, International Studies major; a Jamaican-born enthusiast of traditional African music and dance; and a lover personal and cultural expression. Above all, I am global citizen sincerely concerned with the trajectory our world has undertaken and how that affects the foundation of humanity: people and their interaction with their environments. For this reason I have focused my studies in understanding how the developing world has gotten to its current socioeconomic situation and creating solutions the issues they face. This has further led me into service and internships wit non-profit organizations and businesses that address these major global concerns; namely, Rural Empowerment and Development Innovations, which brings development support to small businesses in rural Kenya.

Broadly, my passions lies in shifting our world’s trajectory to one of global cohesiveness; where as a unit we are at peace with our selves, each other, and our physical environment. I am passionate about saving the world because I am highly cognizant of my connectedness to the world as a combination of social, environmental, political, and economic systems. I recognize that the issues that impact the globe, be it population growth, poverty, food distribution, climate change, etc., is directly and indirectly affecting me. Therefore I know that the progression of our world in peace and cohesiveness is the advancement of myself and my community and our propensity for a gratifying existence. And alternatively, the degradation of our world is the deterioration of myself and my community.

Jared Blackburn


My Name is Jared Blackburn and I am originally from Winter Haven, FL. I am a second year student at the University of Florida, majoring in Political Science with two minors one in Public Leadership and the other in Leadership Development. I have held internship positions in Senator Marco Rubio’s office in Orlando working in the intake processing department, and I am currently interning with the Department of State with a project within the Department of Education researching post-secondary institutions and their occupational licenses with regards to the state’s requirements for those licenses. Also, during this current Spring Semester I am interning in Senator Marco Rubio’s Washington, D.C. office working with Social issues and other national policies. Then this summer I will continue my stay in Washington, D.C., by gaining more vital work experiences in the Department of States Bureau of Legislative Affairs within the Congressional Correspondence Unit.

My future aspirations are to be able to attend a law school and then either go into the JAG corps or jump right into a law firm to work my way up the ladder. So that one day I can potentially run for Governor of the State of Florida or become a Senator for the State of Florida.

I am passionate about saving the world because every generation should have an opportunity to live a life where they can truly enjoy all of its wonders and make an impact of their own. This is why in my presentation I am focusing on education reform because I feel that every student no matter where they come from should have the chance to pursue passions that interest them not just following the ones that seem to make the most money. So then by then pairing passions with conventional majors, then our future leaders should be able to adapt to any situation that the future may throw at them.

Heather Ryan


Throughout my first two years at the University of Florida, there has been a collection of incredible people and experiences that have helped me begin to find this answer. Recently, I changed my major to Agricultural Education with a concentration in Leadership & Communication Development and have loved every minute of it since. I am a follower of Jesus, spontaneous adventurer, Florida Gator, camp girl, intentional friend and hopeful world changer. I wake up everyday not necessarily having it all together but willing to listen and learn from others around me so I can relate in the best way possible. There is still quite a long way to go on this self-identity discovery, but I am beginning to see direction and I know the best is yet to come!

I believe the best investment any of us can make is not found in profit, fame or personal gain but in the hearts of people. Growing up, my parents always reminded me to not fear the size of the world’s problems as long as you have a big enough heart to match it. Whether it’s your roommate, grocery store clerk, bus driver, university president or stranger, we live together in a world where each day presents an opportunity for personal impact. There has never been another point in history with more potential for cultivating leadership among young people who will be the leaders of 2050. Our future is a product of our current actions; so let’s get started!

Shelby Thomas


I am a Marine Science and Microbiology double major, minoring in leadership and aquatic fisheries here at the University of Florida. I am twenty years old and from Daytona Beach Florida. I love anything active, outdoors, and anything that involves adventure. I have a love for traveling and emerging in different cultures. I am pursuing my PhD in Marine Science and I plan to conduct research on marine organisms defense chemicals to utilize for medicinal cures. I would also like to conduct research on coral reef restoration, specifically restoring reefs from coral bleaching.


I am passionate not only for people but our planet and all of the variety of life that thrives upon it. Unfortunately we as a species have caused a lot of harm in our wake, in which will cause huge altercations if actions are not taken soon. I want to contribute as much as I can to helping make our world a better place, and fix some of the things that we have caused. Because if not me, then who? If its not I or you then whom do we choose? If its not us or them then what team will do? If there is no team nor group we have sure got a lot to lose. I think it important for each person to take their part in saving this world, big or little we all make a difference. So if I contributed more today than I did yesterday then I am doing alright. I want to make a difference and inspire those that will too.

Audrey Batzer &
Avalon Hoek Spaans


Audrey Batzer is a second year student from Venice, FL, majoring in Environmental Science here at UF. Her research interests include sustainable food systems, ocean pollution remediation, and ecosystem responses to a changing climate. Her past research experiences include sea turtle nesting behavior with Mote Marine Labratory.

Avalon Hoek Spaans is a third year Environmental Science student from Miami, Fl. She is a Challenge 2050 Scholar, and comes from a farming family. Her research interests include urban agriculture, land development, and climate change. She has previously done research at the National Ecological Observatory Network on underground biomass in the United States.

As environmental science majors, we learn about the infinite amount problems plaguing our world. In our field we often experience a culture of extensive research and thinking about these problems, without any application to solve them. We want to lead and become apart of a new generation of scientists, who not only value research but strive to DO.  Climate change and global food insecurity are impending crisis. It is time to stop passing down the torch, the time to solve these problems is now.

Jack Yang &
John Hursh


Jack Yang: I’m a Ph.D student at University of Florida majoring in Agriculture and Biological Engineering, my research was focus on regenerate alternative and sustainable energy by recycling agriculture waste and food waste. In four years, I’m lucky to involve in many projects related to some practical research about municipal waste. This help me better understand the importance of the ecosystem.

John Hursh: At the University of Florida, I pursue Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering. When I’m not pouring over classwork, I’m fulfilling my duties as a Research Assistant in the school of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Peer Advisor for Chemical Engineering, or a Resident Assistant (RA) with on-campus housing. I call Winter Park, FL home but I’ve had the privilege to both live and travel abroad. Gainesville quickly became a cozy home away from home in addition to providing me an exceptional educational experience.

Jack Yang: With the evolution of human beings, more and more inventions have been developed, more and more technologies are serving the community. But the waste produced by people is growing exponentially, and the natural resources we can get from the earth become less and less. The environment we live in is limited.

After a couple of years doing my Ph.D. research on Dairy Farm waste energy re-generation, I realized that finding ways to get energy recycled from the livestock waste is not the only problem we confront. The nutrients (Phosphate, Nitrogen) lost to the ground water are another problem. These can directly lead to severe environmental problems and water contamination.

Preserving the water on Earth is very important. But how can we preserve clean water and also the nutrients from the livestock operation? This is why I was so excited when I first became involved with the algae project. This species of algae can help treat the all the waste water from the livestock industry. This might seem like just one small step for saving the world, but it could benefit all humankind if it’s successful. I’m very grateful for the wonderful chance from ONE WORLD to present our work and idea to other people. I hope our work can at least inspire and encourage people to take their own steps to start saving the world!

John Hursh: Last fall I won an essay contest on the topic of sustainable energy technology for space colonization. It made me realize that before we even consider looking at other planets, we need to be doing the best we can for our own.

To diversify fuel options, conserve freshwater and increase food security, my lab investigates biofuel and fertilizer collection from dairy farm runoff with microalgae. In the process of saving the world, we hope to use isolated algae cultures to remove the waterborne nutrients leading to harmful algae blooms. Additionally the farmers would then be in control of an algal biofuel source while having the capability to collect their own biodegradable algae beads to use for crop fertilization rather than the use of expensive, harmful fertilizers.



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Cameron Outlaw


Political Science with minors in Spanish, Leadership, and Agricultural Communication. Fourth Year. Winter Springs, Florida. Research Interests: leadership development and organizational change, motivational psychology, happiness, purpose.

I am here on this earth to give the abundant joy of knowing purpose and passion to those who have not yet experienced it. To save the world means to create space in our lives to show intentional care for other humans, whether they are close by or not. I see every interaction we have as the opportunity to better someone else’s world.

The most powerful resources that mankind possesses are the human heart and mind. To save the world, we need to continue investing in the opening and development of our collective hearts and minds to the limitless possibilities that can be achieved.

I have adapted a quote to be one of my life axioms: this world isn’t perfect, but I won’t stop fighting to make it better than it was yesterday.

Casey Parker


My name is Casey Parker and I am originally from Ocala, FL. I received my Bachelor of Science in entomology and nematology in May of 2014 and am
currently pursuing my master’s degree in medical & veterinary entomology here at the University of Florida. My research focuses on controlling disease transmitting mosquitoes with a novel trap. I believe this will be crucial for our growing world. With more and more people populating the earth, we can expect a higher mosquito population and, as a result, increased disease transmission.

Recently I read a quote that I feel sums up why I am passionate about saving our world. “Risk not the temptation of complacency, for the world around you is in a constant state of change.” The world we live in is changing and growing. It is easy to adopt the mindset that someone else will fix the world and solve all of our problems, but I refuse to become complacent. I want to be a doer that has the opportunity to change the world we live and create a brighter future for generations to come. I am truly honored to be one of the ‘Solution Six’ and I can’t wait to share my passion and innovation with all of you.

Nicholas Algozzine


I’m a 4th year student at the University of Florida majoring in Food Science and minoring in leadership. During my experience at the University of Florida, I have been involved in many different facets, from being a research assistant on whole food and nutritional supplement research studies, to volunteering with the University Athletic Association Sports Nutrition Department.

During my time as research assistant, I collected and analyzed biological samples as well as recruited study participants. My involvement with the Sports Nutrition Department focused on developing post workout recovery smoothies that met NCAA compliance for macronutrient distribution. I also assisted with educating athletes on healthy meal alternatives. When I wasn’t busy volunteering or conducting research, I found time to be the Treasurer of the University of Florida Sailing Team as well as an Ambassador for The Center for Leadership and Service.

I’m currently a Barista for Starbucks Coffee Company, and I hope to work in Quality Control or Research and Development in Seattle at the cooperate office after graduation.

I’m passionate about saving the world because everyone should be able to experience everything that world has to offer.

Maggie Hill Team


Maggie Hill is a senior from Orlando, Florida majoring in Family, Youth, and Community Sciences with a minor in Leadership. Passionate about change, Maggie has the aspiration to empower inner city youth with the desire to break the cycle through leadership skills and educational advances.

Abby Doupnik is a junior from Tampa, Florida majoring in journalism. Abby is passionate about finding innovative ways to use media as a catalyst for social change and to inspire people to make a difference within their own communities.

Melanie Griffith is a senior from West Palm Beach, Florida majoring in linguistics. Melanie is passionate about second language acquisition, transforming education and building meaningful and connected relationships with individuals, making them feel like a priority.

Cassidy Stevens is a senior from Naples, Florida majoring in health education and behavior. Cassidy’s background with music, travel, and her contagious desire to change the world has combined to create a vision for music being the catalyst towards global health and social justice.


The four of us met while volunteering for a local youth mentoring nonprofit organization. We quickly connected and recognized a common desire to create lasting change in our communities and positive differences in developing countries around the world. Coming from a variety of backgrounds, we share a unique blend of skills and interests that allow our communal passions and insights from different fields to create a unique opportunity for collaboration. As a group we’ve spent time not only working to empower individuals in Gainesville but also in rural areas in developing countries, such as Haiti. Because of this shared experience, our desire for change became an urgent need. Individually, we each had the potential to create change, but together we have the network and diversity to make it a reality.

Nathan Carson


I am excited to continue my family’s agricultural legacy through studies at the University of Florida where I am majoring in Food and Resource Economics. My interest in food insecurity, economic development, and international relations led me to serve as a Scholar in the Challenge 2050 Project. I also represented the United States as a delegate to the 2013 Youth Ag Summit in Calgary, Canada. The summit, sponsored by Bayer CropScience and Canada 4-H, gathered 120 young adults from around the world to form solutions to sustaining a growing population. Additionally, I was selected to attend the 2015 USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum through the USDA’s Student Diversity Program.

Major: Food and Resource Economics, Minors: Business Administration, Agricultural and Natural Resource Law, Leadership

As I observe future global trends, I am sobered by the challenges humanity faces in the 21st Century. Overpopulation, environmental degradation, and food insecurity are only three of the many issues our planet must address by 2050. Yet, central to meeting these challenges is implementing sustainable agricultural practices. Food security is key to ensuring continued international peace and stability. In early 2011, the Arab Spring ignited due to rising food prices. Four yearS later, the Middle East is still immersed in chaos. Without a plentiful supply of safe, nutritious food, further global progress will be impossible. Ultimately, upon graduation in May, it is my desire to use concepts learned at UF to help feed a hungry planet.

Jenny McDanels


In 2050, I will be 57. I will have had a successful career, a family, and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Molly. 9.6 billion people is a lot, and though I am just one, I will make a mighty and fiery impact. My name is Jennifer McDanels and I want to live in a world where agriculture companies are as trustworthy as the friendly neighborhood farmer. As such, my research primarily deals with corporate social responsibility (CSR) in agricultural corporations.

I am in the process of creating a nonprofit association that will work to leverage CSR in agricultural companies into creating a platform of trust between consumers and the agricultural industry. This will allow for more patronage of agricultural companies. In addition, this association allows for agricultural companies to form dynamic partnerships to create a network of power that can be leveraged to address the unique needs of the agricultural sector. It will produce research for member companies, provide opportunities for professional development, and expose the industry to well-informed suggestions for corporate social responsibility that will benefit the company.

Caring about tomorrow today has always been one of the major tenets by which I have lived. As such, I am in my final semester of receiving my bachelor of science in agricultural communication.