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FAU Senior Receives 2020 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award

From the thousands of graduating seniors who have participated in Miracle Network Dance Marathon at the approximately 300 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada, 25 students were selected to receive the 2020 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award for making an exceptional impact within their Dance Marathon program, on their individual campus and for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. To see all of this year’s recipients, click here

Hometown: Miami Beach, Florida

Degree(s): Bachelor of Arts in Education with a minor in Nonprofit Management

Dance Marathon Involvement: Over the course of my four years involved in OwlThon at Florida Atlantic University, thus far I have collectively raised $13,042. The positions that I have served as include: External Events Captain for OwlThon 2017, External Events Chair for OwlThon 2018, and Executive Director for OwlThon 2019 as well as OwlThon 2020.

Campus/Community Involvement: National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Hillel, the Council for Exceptional Children, the Mentoring Project, and Big Brothers Big Sisters on campus and within the community

Awards/Recognition: Dean’s List; Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi

Post-Graduation Plans: My plans post-graduation are to start working in the fall as a full-time elementary school teacher.

Why do you, personally, participate in Dance Marathon?

At its core, everyone participates in Dance Marathon For The Kids. Everyone has a different “why,” and to be honest, my why changes from day to day, and has definitely changed over the years. One day it might be for our miracle child Bella, who I have had the chance to celebrate different milestones with; and another day, it might be for all of those children who rely on us to fund the research that is going to find a cure for their diagnosis. From a young age, I have always had a passion for working with children. I was the first to volunteer to babysit the kids or plan activities to entertain the little ones. As a future elementary school teacher, I knew that I could not wait to make my impact on children when there was a perfect opportunity right there for me through Dance Marathon. Why wait to make an impact on a group that I have such a passion for, when I can start to make a change right now? I believe that all children deserve to experience a childhood, and I am going to do everything in my power to make that possible for them, regardless of the situation they are facing. There is no need to wait to make an impact on the future generation when there are so many chances to do that right now for the kids who need us most.

How has Dance Marathon impacted you as a student leader? What specific skills have you developed during your involvement?

My time with Dance Marathon has completely shaped my mindset and changed me as a student leader. There are too many skills to name that I have developed, but some of the most important ones are communication, conflict resolution, delegation, and teamwork. The saying, communication is key, has never been more apparent to me than through my experiences within OwlThon. To work well with others and make the largest impact, it is important to be able to communicate effectively and respectfully. While serving as External Events Chair, if I did not communicate in a clear and timely fashion with others, it would not be fair to expect as much support as if they had known about what was going on sooner. Working with a team of twenty fellow college students, there are bound to be conflicts. Through my role of Executive Director, I had to handle these situations head-on and learned to step back and approach a situation calmly to solve it in the fairest way. Overall, the largest impact that Dance Marathon has had on me as a student leader has been in increasing my confidence in myself. Without Dance Marathon, I never would have been able to share my passion and stand in front of a room to inspire others to make their own impact.

What personal accomplishment/contribution are you most proud of from your involvement in Dance Marathon?

There are many proud moments that I have been a part of, from our campus reaching its first financial goal in three years on our push day, to the revamping of a Captain’s Program. One of my proudest accomplishments is showing others that you do not have to be a part of Greek life to join OwlThon. In my freshman year, OwlThon was in its fourth year, and the only true involvement was from Greek life. People believed that in order to participate it was mandatory to be in a Greek organization, which I was not. Regardless, I applied for a position right away. It was nerve-wracking knowing that when I attended events, I was the only non-Greek. However, it was important to spread the message that anyone can join. Since my first year, there has been a growing presence from non-Greeks on campus, between individuals who have served in leadership roles, or organizations that have created teams. The impact that these participants have made is amazing. While OwlThon will always be lucky to have the support of our Greek organizations, there is a whole new group starting to get involved that is part of our future. I am proud to have been in that new group that knows that even though we may be the minority, we can still make an impact For The Kids.

Why should students get involved with Miracle Network Dance Marathon on their campus?

There are children sitting in a hospital right now that are doing everything in their power to fight for their life. They are facing circumstances that in many cases are not in their control, and need our support as a Dance Marathon community to stand behind them and help in this fight. We have the power to make a life-changing impact on so many kids and families right now, as college students through Dance Marathon. We were all once children who had someone fighting for us in whatever obstacle we faced. It is now our chance to be that person for these kiddos and embody what it means to be This Generation Fighting For The Next. Students join Dance Marathon to support our cause and do what they can For The Kids, but along the way, it can become so much more. Dance Marathon provides endless opportunities for any student who gets involved. From building real-world skills that will help in any future careers, to making strong, life-long connections with people you never could have expected. Dance Marathon opens so many doors. Joining Dance Marathon can not only give students all these amazing opportunities but also allow them to make an impact at the same time while feeling what it means to be a part of something greater than themself.

Why should people donate to their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals?

People should donate to their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals because their donations are truly making an impact. Children’s hospitals need our support, and I have seen firsthand the impact that our funds can make. Between hospital tours of my local hospital, UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, and Miracle Family stories that I have had the chance to see and hear, it is clear that the funds raised for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals are life-changing for so many. These donations directly help thousands of kids and families, whether that be through funding a vital and life-saving piece of equipment at the hospital, or funding the Child Life Program that helps the kids get through the tough days. Hearing stories from families over the years just reiterates how impactful these donations are on their everyday life.

Miracle Network Dance Marathon is an international movement, involving over 400 colleges, universities and K-12 schools across North America that fundraise for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. These students work tirelessly throughout the year to raise funds one dollar at a time by making the ask to family and friends. Their hard work culminates in a 6-40 hour celebration on their campus, where participants have the opportunity to rally together as a community for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Students involved in Dance Marathon gain valuable skills in fundraising, peer management, delegation and philanthropy. Miracle Network Dance Marathon programs have collectively raised more than $300 million since 1991.

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