Aqua Foundation for Women is proud to present its 2015-2016 scholarship recipients. This year’s scholars are an incredibly diverse group of individuals pursuing their goals with the help of an Aqua Foundation scholarship. Over the next few months the Foundation will share more in-depth scholar stories, but you can read a bit more about the 12 scholars below:

Catherine Armuelles

Attending: University of Central Florida 
Pursuing: Master’s in Sociology 
Catherine is a returning Aqua Scholar with a passion for social justice. She recently finished her undergraduate degree in sociology at the University of Central Florida, graduating with honors. This month, Catherine will begin UCF’s graduate program in Sociology. She looks forward to becoming an applied sociologist specializing in health disparities among underserved and underrepresented groups, more specifically the LGBTQAI+ community and other minority communities. Some of her goals include changing public health policies and perceptions, and increasing awareness about social power and inequalities in the United States. She plans on pursuing a Ph.D. after completing her Master’s Degree.

April Coan

Attending: Nova Southeastern University 
Pursuing: Ph.D in Conflict Analysis and Resolution 
April proudly comes from a military family and received her undergraduate degree from Northeastern University. While there, she was one of the few women selected as a Marine Corps Officer. April served five honorable years of military service under the controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy. She was promoted to Captain and served a year as a company commander at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. While in the Marine Corps, she juggled work and school and earned an MBA from Boston University. April left the Marine Corps and moved to South Florida in 2010 in order to pursue a career in the field of higher education. She is now an Assistant Director at Nova Southeastern University and currently volunteers as an Adult Advisor for the SunServe SW Ranches Youth Group and is a volunteer mentor for United Way’s Mission United Veteran Mentorship Program.

Emily Cohen

Attending: Florida Atlantic University
Pursuing: Master’s in Social Work 
Emily has always had an interest in activism and social justice. As the LGBTQA Specialist for the past three years at FAU, she facilitates LGBTQA cultural competency trainings and programming, and provides daily mentoring to LGBTQA students. Emily received her Bachelors Degree in Psychology at FAU, and is currently working on her Masters Degree in Social Work. Her future career goals include working in the fields of substance abuse treatment and recovery, and trans advocacy. She enjoys spending weekends at the beach with her 5-year old daughter, and movie marathons with her partner. Her greatest achievement (next to motherhood) was completing the Disney Princess Half Marathon this past February.

Sabrina Diz

Attending: Nova Southeastern University
Pursuing: Master’s in Public Administration 
Sabrina Diz has been an activist and advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in South Florida since 1999. She earned a Master’s Degree from Florida International University in Religious Studies, focusing on the history and basis for many forms of gender-based violence. Sabrina has worked in several states and countries, including a tour in Papua New Guinea educating against domestic violence and advocating for women’s empowerment in deeply religious indigenous villages. Her expertise lies in identifying vulnerable female-identified populations and creating awareness of sexual exploitation, commercial exploitation, and violence against female-identified people. Sabrina currently holds dual employment positions for Pridelines Youth Services as well as with the Homeless Voice. When Sabrina is not studying, or working to end gender-based discrimination and violence, she volunteers her time and expertise with LBT organizations like Push and Aqua Foundation for Women.

Serafima Mintz

Attending: Florida International University
Pursuing: Master’s in Creative Writing 
Serafima Mintz is a Master of Fine Arts student at Florida International University, where she writes and studies fiction. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from University of Florida in 2014. A winner of the Kitty Oliver Prize for Undergraduate Fiction, her work has been published in The Fine Print, Gertrude Journal, and Even Noisy Sparrows, her self-published zine. Serafima works teaching math and reading skills to students with learning challenges in West Palm Beach, Florida. She is also the Founder of the South Florida Prison Book Project, a program dedicated to receiving letters from and shipping free books to prisoners in the state of Florida.

Sanique Olkuch

Attending: Chatham University Online
Pursuing: Doctor of Nursing Practice 
Sanique is a nurse practitioner at Care Resource. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science from the University of Florida; her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Florida Atlantic University; and Master of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Miami. The month she will begin a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program remotely at Chatham University. She is involved in several professional organizations including Sigma Theta Tau International Society of Nurses, Phi Beta Kappa Society and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. She is also an American Academy of HIV Medicine credentialed HIV specialist and serves on University of Miami’s LGBTQI community advisory board. Sanique enjoys traveling to different countries and volunteering with her church’s homeless outreach ministry.

Kimberly Overton

Attending: University of Miami
Pursuing: Bachelor’s in Bio-Medical Engineering 
Kimberly is a devoted student-athlete interested in STEM. She is a Summa Cum Laude graduate from American Senior High School, where she was inducted into her school’s Hall of Fame. She is also passionate about the environment and helping others. As a bio-medical engineering major, Kimberly hopes to be part of the track team at the University of Miami and to continue working hard in her academics. Kimberly is excited about getting involved in the LGBTQ+ at her school and wants to grow in the community by pursuing a Women and Gender Studies minor.

Arion Pernaris

Attending: Florida International University
Pursuing: Double Major in Business Management 
and International Business 
 
Arion Pernaris was born and raised in Miami and is very passionate about school, music, photography, and enjoys engaging in water sports including boating, wake boarding and kayaking. Arion is a senior at Florida International University and will graduate next year with a BBA in Management and International Business. Arion’s goal is to be a prominent leader in her community and succeed in helping others overcome obstacles similar to her own.

Brittany Rubin

Attending: Nova Southeastern University 
Pursuing: PsyD in Clinical Psychology 
Brittany is in her first year of graduate school at Nova Southeastern University, en route to obtaining a PsyD degree in Clinical Psychology with the intention of becoming a licensed clinical psychologist. When Brittany is not studying, you will most likely find her on the field playing flag football, or in the great company of her family and friends. Brittany is passionate about eating disorders advocacy and education. Currently, Brittany is in the process of developing a branch of The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness that focuses specifically on eating disorders and the unique challenges experienced in the LGBTQ community.

Renee Sahatdjian

Attending: University of Central Florida
Pursuing: Bachelor’s in Psychology 
Renee is completing a pre-medical track while pursuing her degree in Psychology and English Literature at the University of Central Florida. She has overcome many hardships, but believes there is something valuable to be learned from every experience in life. She plans to pursue a career in Psychiatry, in which she can use the wisdom garnered from past experiences to help make a difference in the lives of others.

Tamara Telfort

Attending: Florida International University
Pursuing: Bachelor’s in Psychology 
Currently a freshmen living on FIU’s MMC campus, Tamara has achieved scholastic success in high school even after experiencing homelessness. Tamara graduated Magna Cum Laude from high school and is committed to working “above and beyond.” Tamara has many interests including fashion and cosmetology and is pursuing a degree in Psychology as Tamara believes that is the only path for her to give back to her community and “pay it forward.”

Haley Zilberberg

Attending: University of Central Florida
Pursuing: Bachelor’s in Social Work 
Haley is a returning Aqua scholar and is studying social work and creative writing at the University of Central Florida. She hopes to one day work with LGBTQ youth and disabled populations as a social worker. She spends her spare time volunteering and writing.