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.