ON CAMPUS INVOLVEMENT
FLC (Freshmen Leadership Council)
FLA (Florida Leadership Academy)
FLEG (Freshmen Leadership Engineering Group)
BACC (Business Administration College Council) Executive Board
BEC (Benton Engineering Council)
Current Cicerone Membership Vice President
Current IFC VP of Finance
IFC Assistant Directors
University Case Competition Team
Florida Varsity Cheerleading
BUMP (Business Undergraduate Mentorship Program)
Florida Blue Key
Gators of Tomorrow
A Reason to Give
Dance Marathon Captains
Center for Undergraduate Research Board of Students (CURBS)
First Year Florida Peer Leaders
Student Government Senate
Student Government Executive Secretary
A REASON TO GIVE
Our Brothers Zack Smith, 18' and Brendon Martin, 17' have been working to combat hunger and stereotypes around the homeless through the organization they cofounded, A Reason To Give.
In 2015, Smith and Martin launched A Reason to Give. Their organization recruits students to help feed homeless individuals in Gainesville, and they use weekly service projects and social media to challenge stereotypes commonly
associated with homelessness. The students spend time in conversation with the community they serve, learning more about their lives and building relationships.
“When you meet them you realize the negative stereotype around the homeless isn’t always true. You start to understand their context and their story much more,” observed Smith. On the group’s Facebook page, A Reason to Give shares stories and photos of people from the Gainesville homeless population. Though names are omitted for reasons of privacy, the photo portraits and personal testimonies work to humanize the problem of homelessness. In one post, a man reflected on how far removed he was from his childhood aspirations, saying, “Back when I was in school, me and all my friends used to pick the jobs we wanted to have. It’s funny how it all works out. Kids would say fireman or doctor, but no one ever said homeless.”
A Reason to Give has raised over $10,000 and provided thousands of free meals, but Smith and Martin say the true impact is the sense of understanding Florida students are developing around the many causes of homelessness and the needs of the homeless population. They say the experience is breaking down the barrier of stigma associated with homelessness and helping students form stronger connections to the local community.
Challenge 2050 Scholar
Who Are You?
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.
Why Are You Passionate about Saving the World?
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.