Student Spotlights

The students spotlighted below were supported by a weekly class and internship program run in partnership with the University of Florida Bob Graham Center for Public Service.

Fall 2023

Zan is an International student and rising sophomore majoring in data science with a minor in Mass Communication Studies. She has a particular interest in the intersection of her studies, focusing on data visualization, communication, and marketing, with a special emphasis on the non-profit sector, in which she has gained valuable experience.

Holden is a freshman at the University of Florida, pursuing a dual degree in History and Business while working as a Personal Trainer at RecSports. In his second semester of FCI, he focuses on securing grants and data analysis, and looks forward to continuing this work throughout his college career.

My name is Muning and I am a senior at the University of Florida. I believe that technology should promote fairness in our society and help the marginalized communities and that’s why I am passionate about working at FCI. In my free time, I enjoy reading, writing, coding, and going to Universal!

I’m Qingyu Yang, a current UF junior with advertising major and statistic minor. FCI provides me opportunities to develop data analysis skills to help build better local communities. I also wrote several blog posts about current social issues, such as domestic violence and the use of AI in health care.

Hello! My name is Luke Li. I love software engineering and I lead the Florida Resource Map (FRM) project at FCI. I enjoy tackling social challenges with technology and love to see my apps go into production to serve real-world users. Please message me if you are interested in joining our tram or becoming a FRM partner!

An undergraduate computer science program at the University of Florida. I am currently in an internship with FCI where I have worked on the development of a state-wide resource map and an anti-human-trafficking database. I am also an active chair member of my local chapter of Girls Who Code – where I run operations for workshop events and series.

I am Shaina Desroches, a second year Digital Art and Sciences Engineering student, which is a computer science degree with an emphasis on human-centered computation, and has provided me with a strong foundation in various technical areas, including software engineering and UX/UI design. I am excited about the opportunity to contribute my skills and grow with FCI!


I’m Andie Pearce, a Computer Science senior at the College of Engineering. I’m on my second semester with FCI as an intern, and I’m excited to be a member of the SHINE project. Outside of my studies I enjoy gaming, hiking, game development, and crochet.

I’m Antonio Migotto, a fourth year computer science major, minoring in Economics and soon, Philosophy. I would like to be as effectively altruistic as I can be in my contribution toward civic tech, meaning that I would like to work on projects that are both effective in what they set out to do, and help people out. Specifically, I would like to shift my focus toward work in urban planning at a local level, but as of now, I have worked on the Florida Resource Map.

My name’s Angelina, and I’m a first year computer science major (still in the process of considering a double major or minor). I’m really excited to join FCI because I feel like I often see many examples of ethics in technology being breached, so I hope that through civic tech, I and others can learn the best ways to prioritize helping people through technology.

I’m Zachary Tenn Yuk, a second-year Computer Science and Economics major. I’m excited to learn how to develop effective and accessible software for the community!

My name is Rahul Tatineni. I am a third year computer science major, minoring in economics. I am interested in developing and exploring technical solutions to increase accessibility on the internet!

I’m Olivia, a first-year data science and geography major passionate about supporting community-centered initiatives through research and storytelling. As an artist, I love to embrace creativity in everything I do, from designing posters to visualizing data. I am interested in civic tech and geospatial data science because of the opportunities to build connections and share stories.

My name is Yemima (Yuh-me-ma) and I’m a second-year information systems major. I’m excited to see how I can improve the world through business and technology. Currently, I’m interested in starting a nonprofit organization to help homeless people in the future and introduce technology resources to underdeveloped countries.

My name is Jaylah and I’m a third-year psychology major with a minor in sociology of social justice and policy. I hope to work on projects that serve my community and assist in making the lives of individuals in underrepresented populations a little easier. I’m also interested in media and design, so I’m excited to be involved with initiatives that combine these interests!

I’m Carolina, currently in my third year of studying Philosophy and Economics. My focus and passion lie in social impact careers within the field of law. I believe that by merging philosophy, economics, and law, we can create a more just and equitable society. I’m very excited to be a part of FCI!

I’m Esmeralda Hechavarria, a third Year Psychology and Statistics Double Major. I am so excited to be part of FCI since I want to use data science skills to create positive change in my community. In particular, I am passionate about promoting equitable access to education for students of all backgrounds and advocating for the LGBTQ+ community!

I’m Yajie, currently pursuing a degree in Web Design and Online Communication with a focus on user experience (UX) and web design. My passion in civic tech lies in enhancing accessibility for users with different backgrounds. I am dedicated to leveraging technology to create inclusive resources for the disabled community, making use of my expertise in UX and web design. My aim is to make significant contributions to projects like ABLE, ensuring seamless user experiences and user-friendly interfaces. 

My name is Ariana (or Ari) and I am currently a second-year journalism major. I am hoping to major in another area such as psychology or public affairs. I have always been interested in working with nonprofit organizations to help underserved communities. I want to raise awareness surrounding substance abuse issues and am passionate about mental health. I am grateful for the opportunity to intern at FCI and I cannot wait to learn more about civic tech and make a positive change. I enjoy listening to music, having picnics with friends and discovering new movies.

My name is Eric and I am a second year Computer Science major. This is my first time working on software development within a team and am excited to make an impact on Florida through civic tech while learning alongside all of you. Some of my hobbies are playing ultimate frisbee, piano, and Nintendo and PC games.

I am Ava McCormack. I am super excited for this opportunity to meet and work with everyone here at FCI! A lot of social topics really touch my heart, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to FCI. I hope to contribute to the resource map as it has a hand in many issues, but I am also open to helping out with other projects that might need help as well. 

I’m Keerthana! I’m super passionate about public policy, specifically heatlhcare and education policy. I want to improve vulnerable communities that have been impacted by negative healthcare policies and extend access to quality health care and improve overall health outcomes. Through FCI, I excited to help our Florida community while also doing research and learning more about civic tech!

My name is Camila Castellano and I am a statistics major. I am very interested in data science. Some of my hobbies include dancing and crocheting. I can’t wait to join this amazing team at FCI and help serve the underrepresented communities in Florida in any way I can!

I’m Michelle Serafimovich. I am a fourth year pursuing a Dual Degree in International Studies and Art History and I am very excited to begin my work at FCI! I am particularly interested in cultural preservation and civil service and would love to apply my research experience to projects like GoBiturary. I am very open to expanding my skills and applying them to other projects as well!

My name is Thomas Olinger, and I’ve been interested in the world of civic tech since highschool. Over my journey in Computer Science, I’ve picked up several frameworks and experiences I hope to apply to bettering the Gainesville community and beyond. I love to workout, play pickleball, travel, and converse over many topics. I’m very excited to join the incredibly dedicated and diverse lineup of student leaders at UF in FCI, and I hope to make an impact with these other bright and kind interns!

My name is Madison, and I am looking forward to getting to meet all of you during my time here with FCI! I am a third-year transfer student majoring in political science. My passions include public policy, gun control legislation, and the legal system. By becoming an intern with FCI I hope that I can explore these passions and be able to apply them to my career path as well as develop a better sense of community for the state of Florida! I’m sure in meeting all of you I will learn a lot more about both public policy and civic tech!

My name is Corey Flores and I’m a second year computer science major. My main goal in civic tech is to help improve/develop technology to increase accessibility for both users and programmers. More than that, I want to use technology to create more resources for the disabled community and as such I hope to contribute a lot to the ABLE project. In the future, I hope to carry out projects that aim to help the trans community in Florida with my further developed skills. 

I’m Stuti Ruparel. I am enthusiastic about engaging in AI/ML-related projects and am eager to further develop and refine my skills in data analytics. I firmly believe that embracing the latest technologies and data-driven methodologies is essential for driving innovation in public service. I am excited to begin this journey with FCI. The self-nurturing community’s zeal for giving back to the community resonates with my own aspirations to genuinely assist people

My name is Elena Puzikova and I am majoring in Political Science. I am interested in integrating data analysis into public policy and community-centered projects. I am particularly passionate.

I’m Mack Johnson. I don’t know about y’all but I am ready and excited to explore areas of the community but also areas of myself to discover new passions. I am hopeful to feel fulfilled through FIC. I love my state and cannot wait to serve as an advocate for issues Floridians face. This is going to be a semester of team development and learning many new strategies.

I’m Vanita! I am a second year political science major. I’m super excited to meet everyone and be a part of FCI. I’m really interested in public and social service, using my abilities to help anyone I can. I want to go more into the corporate/business side of law so I think that FCI is a great base for me to explore my passion and make a great impact alongside other interns!

My name is Anirudh, and I’m a 4th year computer science major minoring in Mathematics. I am extremely excited to apply my past four years of technical experience towards public service projects such as the Florida Resource Map.

I am Ayah Saleh, a second year pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, and am planning on pursuing a minor in Digital Arts and Sciences. I am specifically interested in UI/UX design as this is a niche of Computer Science I am interested in exploring. Beyond academics, my favorite thing ever is traveling. I love immersing myself in diverse cultures and expanding my geographical knowledge of the world. Through my educational journey, I aspire to acquire a well-rounded skill set, and I’m particularly focused on learning more about underrepresented communities. My ultimate goal for this program is to combine my growing expertise with my desire to make a positive impact on others, by leveraging these two powerful entities in the most meaningful ways possible.

I’m Samuel Cohen, a first-year student and a Gainesville local (or ACR, so I’ve heard). I am super interested in using technology in helping make the world better, but have limited experience in actually doing that, so I’m excited to get some! It’s also really exciting to meet a bunch of people with that same goal. I’m hoping to work on the resource map or on data science-type projects, but I’m very open. Specific areas of interest include education, music, equity in resource access, and whatever helps people live their best lives

My name is Gabriela Hernandez. Currently, I am a dedicated student at the University of Florida, where I am a Political Science and Criminology double major. My deep love for public policy and my desire to help our communities are the driving forces behind my dedication to making a positive impact on society. I believe that through thoughtful and effective public policy, we can address the pressing issues facing our communities and work towards a better future for all. Beyond academics, my passion for community service has driven me to write “Timothy’s Magic Wheelchair: The Martian Overlord,” a children’s book, and donated all proceeds to the Jett Foundation, which supports families affected by Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. These experiences underscore my unwavering commitment to service and my ability to effectively utilize communication, leadership, and analytical skills to create positive change in my community.

I’m Ricky Zhang, a first-year Computer Science major still exploring the many ways to pursue and implement technology. Contributing to a collaborative civic service project seemed great, as it would simultaneously introduce me to the real-life impact of application programs and the interdisciplinary communication required to realize them. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m glad it’s under FCI’s community outreach.

I’m Kevin, and I’m a senior majoring in Digital Arts & Sciences, focusing on UI/UX design.  I recently worked on some projects related to accessibility that got me really interested in civic tech, and I think FCI has some really innovative projects that I’m excited to work on. Looking forward to working with everyone this semester!

I’m Hannah Vicars and I am an FSU alum who is currently in my final year of UCF’s MPA/MNM dual degree program. I have extensive experience serving at-risk-youth in multiple capacities where I focused on utilizing practices which prioritized diversity, equity, and inclusion. Public policy is another passion of mine, specifically in the areas of race and gender. I was first acquainted with FCI while searching for an organization to write a grant for and I am so excited to continue serving Florida communities by continuing my partnership with the organizations.

My name is Claudia Garcia and I am a fourth year political science major with a minor in Public Leadership. I am very interested in public service and want to use my abilities for solving major public issues! Im very interested in sustainability and environmental conservation as well. I am super excited to begin working with FCI and cannot wait to use my skills to help around all the projects.

I’m Nicole Becerra, a first year in political science and hope to get a double major in international studies. I’m interested in learning about tech to get a basic understanding of it, but I’m much more invested in public service. I hope to work with the government or in some kind of public policy. I don’t know much about either hence why I’m excited to learn through FCI.

Summer 2023
Spring 2023
Fall 2022
Fall student profile: Meryem Yuksel
Spring 2022 Internship Students

Name: Velgui Perez-Tomas

Bio: Velgui Perez-Tomas graduated in Spring 2022 as a Political Science and International Studies with a focus in Latin America double major at the University of Florida. She aspires to attend law school in the near future but for now is seeking experiences working in governmental affairs related to the Latin American region or entering the private sphere and seeking out paralegal experience. 

Background and Internship: Before her experience with FCI, Velgui had previous introductions working with nonprofits, specifically serving undocumented youth and poorer communities in her hometown of Lake Worth. She had also gained experience working in the legal field by being an intern at an immigration law firm in West Palm Beach, Florida which provided services including work-visa renewals, green-card applications, and naturalization. Additional legal experience includes her work with PRLDEF Latino Justice as a LawBound Scholar, and attending the University of Miami School of Law as a Summer Legal Scholar. Velgui also has extensive school involvement, including through her culture, working as the Executive Director for 2022 Latin American Summit, as well as working as an intern at PIRG Students pushing for voter education.

At FCI, Velgui has been able to grow her outreach skills by creating press releases and related materials in anticipation of Release 3 of their Florida Resource Map (FRMM). Velgui has a communications leadership role at FCI, assisting with other intern projects that involve outreach work. She closed out the semester by working on a white paper that highlights challenges undocumented and documented immigrants face while looking up public resources in South Florida and is continued to volunteer over summer 2022.

Name: Joseph Fleming

Bio: Joseph Fleming is a rising third-year student at the University of Florida studying Computer Science. He is looking into various aspects of the tech industry such as web development and Artificial Intelligence, but has not decided on a specific path.

Background and Internship: Throughout his time at UF, Joseph has learned various programming languages, including JavaScript, C++, and R. He had participated in volunteer work through his local church prior to college, but had not connected his interests in techology to his public service efforts before FCI.

With FCI, Joseph has been able to apply his prior knowledge to make a positive impact for the community. He has worked on the Florida Resource Map with the rest of the tech team at FCI, developing and creating the intake form for partners to use to get their organization listed as a resource for the general public. Learning React, CSS, and becoming familiar with Storybook, Joseph has gained experience working in a group setting to create a tech project, something that would not have been possible through standard course curriculum. Joseph is thankful to FCI for giving him the opportunity to apply himself and for the newfound confidence in his work that will allow him to excel in his career.

Name: Ethan Ghozali

Bio: Ethan Ghozali is a rising third-year student at the University of Florida studying Political Science & Economics. He plans to pursue a career in law and public policy.

Background and Internship: During the Spring 2022 semester, Ethan worked in coordination with FCI’S partners including the Central Florida Foundation, the University of Michigan’s School of Information, and American University’s School of Public Affairs.

Ethan has notably helped to guide and supervise a team of later career graduate students from American University as they create a policy brief about how cities provide resources to beneficiaries in Florida. In addition, Ethan is undertaking a supplemental data analysis in order to complement the American University project. Ethan was extremely thankful to be a member of the FCI team and is looking forward to supporting the organization in the future.

Name: Maddie Kuennen

Bio: Maddie is a rising second-year student at the University of Florida, majoring in Geomatics with a specialization in Geospatial Analysis. She currently is part of the University of Florida Navy ROTC unit and will commission as a Surface Warfare Officer in the United States Navy upon graduating with her Bachelor’s degree.

Background and Internship: Maddie has worked and volunteered with several non-profits in the past, including founding the junior executive board for Neighbors to Nicaragua (a local non-profit from her hometown). She had some experience in coding and geospatial technology from her classes, which is why FCI was the perfect opportunity to help apply and develop her skills to a real, meaningful project.

During the Spring 2022 semester, Maddie had initially worked with the coding and construction of FCI’s Florida Resource Map (Release 3. Her tasks included performing front and back end installations, implementing new key words, and using three different languages she never had before. Her final project for the internship is a close collaboration with Shawna Dean (another FCI intern) and her Traffic Fatality map project. This was a great step forward in helping her learn ArcGIS and other geo-business platforms as well as connect real-time data. Most of all, out of everything that she learned, Maddie was most happy to work with FCI due to the impact she had made for so many different causes as part of a greater team. Maddie is continued to volunteer during Summer 2022.

Name: Shawna Dean

Bio: Shawna is an undergraduate student at the University of Florida pursuing a combined BSBA/MS in Information Systems & Operations Management with a concentration in Data Science and the Challenge 2050: Global Leadership & Change certificate.  She plans on entering the private sector upon graduation while continuing to work on her passion projects in data analysis for community development.  

Background and Internship: Shawna has had prior experience in sustainable development policy research through her Challenge 2050 projects “The Impact of Access to Contraception on Family Planning in Uganda” and “Implementing a Zero Waste Curriculum in Alachua County Schools.”  Before joining FCI, her work in data analytics was limited to a summer as a Business Operations Analyst Intern for a credit union.  

For the Spring 2022 semester, she partnered with FCI on her Challenge 2050 capstone project studying road traffic safety.  She chose the topic in honor of her classmates, Maggie Paxton and Sophia Lambert, who were both tragically killed as pedestrians on W University Avenue.  Her project involves mapping traffic fatalities and layering relevant safety resources to help pedestrians avoid hazardous situations in Gainesville.  She enjoys working with Maddie Kuennen (another FCI intern) as they develop their GIS skillset.

Shawna credits FCI for igniting her passion for data analysis in the public/non-profit sector and giving her the courage to giving her to pursue this line of work.  She plans to partner with FCI over Summer 2022 to develop her Traffic Fatalities map into a webapp.

Name: Rhiannon O’Donnell

Bio: Rhiannon is a rising second-year undergraduate student at the University of Florida studying Data Science. In her career she hopes to use statistical analytics and data processing in order to learn more about community interactions, as well as contribute to the prosperity of local communities in order to foster sustainable change. 

Background and Internship: Passionate about statistics and technology, Rhiannon was considering a career in data science upon beginning her internship. Her prior experience includes working as a research assistant in the Department of Biostatistics, as well as years of volunteering in her hometown of Atlantic Beach, Florida, being a two-time winner of the “Volunteer of the Year” award for the local elementary school where she volunteered.

Rhiannon’s work with Florida Community Innovation involves the development of the Gentrification Risk Assessment Tool (GRAT), a software tool that will gauge and track the gentrification of an area in North Central Florida by zip code. Rhiannon was selected to be in the 2022-2023 cohort of the Askew Scholars Program through the Bob Graham Center at the University of Florida and will be working on the GRAT with Florida Community Innovation through the support of this program. Her internship involvement has helped grow both her interest and her skills in data science, and she is thankful to the volunteers, her mentors, and fellow interns of FCI for the opportunity to grow and learn in a supportive environment.

Fall 2021 Internship Students

Name: Aniqa Ahmed

Bio: Aniqa Ahmed is rising fourth-year student at UF studying Political Science, on the pre-med track. She is planning on getting a masters in Public Health and entering the medical field, whether through practice or policy. 

Background and Internship: Aniqa has had prior experience in media outreach, civic engagement, public service, and data skills. Her extracurricular activities in civic engagement and community planning cultivated her interest in learning more about community organizing and connecting resources to people. She had limited experience in connecting her data skills with her community organizing experience, and FCI was the perfect opportunity for her to work on the intersection between these skills. 

In the Fall 2021 semester, she continued FCI’s partnership with the UF College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, UF-VA Bioethics Unit, attending the Grand Rounds presentation by Dr. Stacy Gallin, the head of the globally acclaimed Maimondes Institute, about “Medicine and Morality: Lessons from the Holocaust.” After attending, Aniqa composed a blog post aimed at educating the undergraduate student population at UF about this public health topic and conducted an exclusive interview with Dr. Gallin. In addition, Aniqa took a UX Design Course, while being mentored by a UX Designer from FCI, in the plans of learning more about the intersection between technology and public service.

Aniqa’s experience with FCI allowed her to gain a greater understanding of how innovative technology can intersect with community building by providing her with the beginnings of the technological and qualitative skills needed to continue to develop this passion. 

Name: Dianelda Pulido

Bio: Dianelda is a rising fourth-year student at the University of Florida double-majoring in Women’s Studies and Spanish and Portuguese Studies. She plans on pursuing a career in law, with a focus on Latin America. 

Background: Dianelda has worked for several non-profits in the past, including Equality Florida and Ruth’s List Miami. During her time, she has worked on translations, voter and community outreach, and research. Her involvement in student organizations has spanned from creating civic engagement programs to organizing drives for women’s health centers. 

Under the Bob Graham Center, Dianelda was a member of the Tallahassee Student Fellowship, where she interned for former State Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez. This was her introduction into Florida politics and further developed her interest in pursuing a career related to public policy. To further her knowledge on public policy, she began to intern with Florida Community Innovation.

What I worked on this semester: “During my time working with FCI, I had the opportunity to further my knowledge on UX Design. Under this program, I was enrolled in a course and received mentorship from a leading UX Designer in the industry. Before this internship I had worked on social media campaigns for student organizations, through this experience I was able to create templates specifically designed to showcase non-profit organizations. One of the highlights of my experience was being able to interview Dave Joswick, founder and CEO of New Hope for Kids (NHK). NHK is a non-profit here in Florida focused on providing grief counseling to children and young adults. Having dealt with parental loss from a young age, being given the opportunity to speak and showcase an organization that has helped so many, helped me come to terms with my own grieving process. FCI has not only helped me on a personal level, but has also furthered my professional goals. Through the mentorship and guidance of the team, I am now confident in pursuing a career in public policy.”

Name: Chloe Dill 

Bio: Chloe is a rising third-year psychology undergrad, with interests across the social sciences, public service, communications, and sustainability. She has gathered a variety of research and outreach experiences, and aspires to pursue a PhD in Psychology. She will continue to work on her newest project centering behavioral nudge messaging techniques in the environmental domain, as a fellow with FCI in the spring semester.

In the fall semester I worked on:

“Being able to develop interdisciplinary skills across communications to research, while contributing to a project that helps people in a meaningful way is truly a dream opportunity here at FCI! I started working with data for the resource map, designed a newsletter template to keep everyone updated, and showed interest in communications and research. As the internship progressed, my idea for a minor social campaign has developed into a grant-funded research initiative with ambitious plans across psychology, sustainability, and public service. As a sophomore who still feels like they are figuring out college, I want to share this for students who might hesitate to go after challenging goals or need that final push to dive into the unfamiliar. If you aren’t sure what you want to pursue, go explore and you might find something somewhere you wouldn’t expect! As someone who struggles with perfectionism (and procrastination), something I learned at FCI is that it is okay not to have an idealized path to reach your goals. Take a confident step forward and don’t underestimate yourself!”

Name: Renee Listrom 

Background/major/future goals: Renee is a rising third-year geography undergrad, with interests in the environment, the arts, social sciences, and sustainability. She has accumulated a substantial amount of volunteer and work experience, and aspires to receive a masters in Geography. She plans on moving forward with her new major and opening her mind and eyes to new studies and experiences relating to geography and nature overall.

“As an intern at FCI this Fall semester, I worked to expand my knowledge on coding and build my computer programming skills. The specific coding languages I have been focusing on this semester are Javascript, HTML, and CSS. Using these languages, I was able to build and style a portion of the FCI website, specifically the “About”/Information section. With the knowledge and skills I acquired this semester, along with the help of FCI’s amazing lead engineer, Aly Knowles, I was able to code a properly styled information section for a website that real people can interact with.”