Inspiring Florida Southern Alumni

As research scientists, CEOs, doctors, lawyers, elected officials, generals, teachers and community volunteers, Florida Southern alumni are making significant contributions to the world.

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Lacey Chimienti '08

This Inspiring Moc says she has been a planner and organizer since she was young. While working part time at a local running store she started helping with their events. “I fell in love with the whole process,” she said. “It starts with an idea and then the community collaborates. After a tremendous amount of organization, you can finally appreciate your hard work and enjoy an amazing event with your peers. Once I realized what I could accomplish, I wanted to organize events for everyone.” That’s when she developed Run for Funds Florida, a healthy and active fundraising solution for schools and organizations. Find out more at www.runforfundsflorida.com.
 

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Music Education Advocate

Megan Yingst ’17 has always been a strong advocate for music education. “I attended two Title 1 schools. I knew many friends who were homeless or living in cars or hotels. The choir room always leveled the playing field for these students, giving them the support system they so desperately needed,” she said.

During her senior year of high school, her former middle school’s music program was discontinued due to budget cuts. She started an after school choir at the middle school, which led her to pursue music education at FSC.

Last year she received a scholarship from the Florida Music Education Association to attend the National Association for Music Education’s (NAfME) Collegiate Advocacy Day Summit, where collegiate members have the opportunity to advocate for legislation supporting music education at Capitol Hill.

She was able to attend the summit again this summer, and experienced the next step in the advocacy process.

“In 2016, we celebrated the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act that specifically included music as part of a well-rounded education,” she explained. “This year we fought to receive funding. Our pleas were thankfully well received and supported by our Florida representatives!”

Megan will continue to convey the importance of music programs with her new position as choir director at Mulberry Middle School and through collaboration with FSC’s chapter of NAfME.

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Communication Department Hall of Fame Alumni Award

The Department of Communication recently decided to initiate an award to recognize significant achievements of our alums over the course of their careers in the field of communication. Because of his lifetime of achievement in the fields of journalism and public relations, and his active involvement in his alma mater, Bob Black was the logical choice to be the recipient of this award.

Bob is a 1951 graduate of Florida Southern College, majoring in Journalism. Among the activities he took part in on campus, Black served on the staff of The Southern, a publication he would advise 40 years later. After two years of service overseas during the Korean War – during which he wrote for Stars and Stripes – he returned to the States to earn a masters degree from Columbia University’s School of Journalism.

Soon after, Bob began a long career in public relations work, working for New York Life, AT&T and SwissAir, where he was Director of Public Relations for the North American Division. Bob began his own PR firm, Bob Black & Company in 1974, a venture that he continues even today. His journalism career has been equally as diverse, covering aviation, skiing and boating – including the 1976 America’s Cup race for the Associated Press and serving as Deputy Press Chief for the Yachting venue at the 1984 Olympics. He has written for The New York Times, AP, UPI and Popular Science, where he had a regular boating column.

In addition to serving as adviser on the Southern, Bob’s professional connections to FSC included stints as an adjunct professor in the communication department, adviser to the Interlachen, marketing consultant, alumni affairs consultant and is currently serving on the National Alumni Board of Directors.

With such an illustrious career and sincere investment in the Communication department, it was a no-brainer that Bob Black would be the recipient of our Communication Department Hall of Fame Alumni Award. Congrats, Bob!

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Young Alumna Finds Opportunities for Underserved

Juliana Cardona Mejia ’13 is the founder and CEO of Street Entrepreneurs, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C. that ignites the grit and power of low-income communities by enabling the creation of small businesses.

“We serve homeless, chronically unemployed, veterans, refugees, previously incarcerated, and low-income individuals, who, even in the absence of opportunity, will create one for themselves,” Juliana shares. “Each participant has a unique story of resilience to share. Despite the many challenges they have faced, they never gave up, which makes them the perfect entrepreneurs. They are hungry for an opportunity to rise out of poverty.”

To get started, Juliana connected with countless professionals to help develop the program, construct a website, incorporate into a 501(c)3, and much more. She then found shelters to provide space and has held entrepreneurship workshops for nearly 50 participants.

“We build skills through a customized approach to business education, connection to mentors, networks, and fast-paced immersion apprenticeships,” Juliana explains. “We invest directly in our entrepreneurs’ micro-businesses through micro-grants matched to milestones. Our Street Entrepreneurs go from idea to income, then turn around and help others, creating a ripple effect that promises to outlive us all.”

To find out more about Street Entrepreneurs, visit http://www.streetentrepreneurs.org.

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An Alzheimer’s Journey in Love

Carol Johnson Cameron ’76 has always enjoyed writing, especially through journaling. She even published a children’s story in a magazine and an article on the senior page of the Tampa Tribune “back in the day.” Five years after losing her mother to Alzheimer’s, she felt she was in a good place to share her story of the journey they took together through the disease. She wrote the story in only two days. “It came quickly,” she remembers. “With music playing in the background the whole time.

“C is for Carolyn” is both memoir of her beloved mother and tribute to the amazing people who helped care for her as the disease progressed and stole the independent woman Carolyn once was. Because so much time had passed, Carol felt she was no longer emotionally involved and could write her story from a higher perspective. Instead of loss, the story focuses on the beauty of their time together as mother and daughter.

If you are going through or have ever been in a similar situation and would like a copy of “C is for Carolyn,” simply email Carol at c.cameronfamilyservices@gmail.com for an electronic version of her story. Carol currently lives in Texas and enjoys a rewarding career working with seniors.

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Videos Provide Unique Ministry Opportunity for Retired Minister

Rev. Dural Ragsdale ’69 of Vicksburg, Mississippi, hasn’t slowed down a bit in retirement. The former Vagabond member has always enjoyed all things creative and thought he’d help others learn to play guitar and ukulele by posting short, usually goofy, “how to” and “old geezer” videos on YouTube under his performing name, Uncle Raggy. “It’s a scream a minute,” he says. “I can reach out to all ages, all over the world on YouTube.” And quite by accident, a new ministry was born.

With over 13,000 subscribers, people comment and write to him from all over the world. “They can tell me anything,” he explains. He always replies, often taking the conversation offline by phone or email, gently sharing his beliefs. “It was meant to be,” he says of the opportunity to connect with so many diverse people. You can find Uncle Raggy on YouTube.

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