UCF Student Who Started Effort to Help Homeless Wins Fellowship
A University of Central Florida student who helped launch an organization to give free health screenings to homeless people has been named a 2017 Newman Civic Fellow.
Andrew Aboujaoude, a third-year biomedical sciences major who plans to attend medical school after he completes his bachelor’s degree, is the only UCF student to receive the fellowship.
“I’m really happy that I’m getting to represent UCF from a civic engagement perspective,” said Aboujaoude, 21. “We really do a lot of good things at UCF and we have a lot of great students, faculty and administrators who are invested in helping the underserved in the community.”
The fellowship is awarded by Campus Compact, a national coalition of more than 1,000 college and university presidents committed to improving community life and to educating students for civic and social responsibility. It’s named for Frank Newman, one of the founders of Campus Compact. Aboujaoude was nominated by UCF President John C. Hitt.
“Andrew is a role model, educator, and friendly person who students are drawn to. He has jumped into involvement on campus from day one and I can only imagine what he will accomplish in the next year with the support of the fellowship,” said Stacey Malaret, director of UCF’s LEAD Scholars Academy.
After volunteering during food shares with homeless people in downtown Orlando, Aboujaoude learned that hypertension is a leading cause of death among the homeless population. He, along with fellow LEAD Scholars Academy students Alexis Ghersi and Jennifer Carvel, set out to address the problem. They founded Hearts for the Homeless Orlando, an organization that screens homeless people for hypertension and other health problems and refers them to free clinics in the area.
After pitching the idea to a gathering of young leaders hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative University, a social venture organization called The Resolution Project gave them startup funding.
Aboujaoude has worked with students at other universities to expand the program beyond Orlando. Students at the University of Florida, Florida State University and the University of South Florida are in the process of launching their own Hearts for the Homeless chapters.
The Newman Fellowship, which runs from August 2017 to May 2018, provides fellows with mentorship, networking with other fellowship recipients, and virtual and in-person learning opportunities, including a conference in Boston in November. Aboujaoude believes it will help Hearts for the Homeless spread further.
“I see it as an opportunity to springboard and launch Hearts for the Homeless in other states,” he said. “I want to do whatever I can for the organization.”
Two months ago, Aboujaoude was one of 21 students to be inducted into the Order of Pegasus, the university’s most prestigious student award.