Over the next several weeks, Florida Campus Compact will be highlighting each of the 13 Florida students named as 2015 Newman Civic Fellows. Nominated by their college or university presidents, the Newman Civic Fellows are the next generation of public problem solvers and civic leaders. They have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities and creating lasting change. Congratulations to all of these outstanding students!
Today, we’d like to recognize:
Natasha Koermer, University of Miami
Natasha Koermer, a junior at the University of Miami, has demonstrated extraordinary leadership and civic engagement over the years, working to create sustainable solutions to global engineering and health issues. Majoring in Biomedical Engineering with minors in Public Health and Spanish, Ms. Koermer has leveraged her academic talents and passions to develop and implement numerous projects in the community, including a local urban sustainable gardening initiative, an outreach program to inspire high school students to pursue service-based careers in STEM, and the University of Miami’s first ever 5K Run/Walk for Water to raise awareness about the importance of clean water for all communities. Ms. Koermer has also worked closely with the University’s student chapter of Engineers Without Borders, leading her peers as the current President and fundraising for and implementing a $25,000 sewage system in Las Mercedes, Ecuador. Additionally, Ms. Koermer serves as a Research Assistant with the University of Miami’s School of Nursing and Health Studies, working closely with faculty to collect data for a study on intimate partner violence across the Miami-Dade County. Most recently, she was accepted to present at the Nursing Network on Violence Against Women International’s 2015 conference. Ms. Koermer is an incredibly bright, civically engaged student, and will no doubt continue to bridge the gap between cutting-edge research and its practical application in solving real-world issues.
-Donne E. Shalala, President
I found my passion for community engagement at the intersection of engineering, global health, and service. Though I volunteered with Key Club throughout high school, I always found our service days at local festivals and fundraisers to be more self-serving than beneficial to the community. Upon coming to the University of Miami, the Engineers Without Borders student group immediately captured my interest through its focus on sustainable solutions. I joined the University chapter and became involved in all aspects of the organization’s commitment to engagement. Now as the campus chapter President, I strive to ensure we continue our mission to partner with communities and create infrastructure projects that improve the quality of life for communities both local and abroad. Performing community health surveys, meeting with local officials, fundraising, and implementing a sewer system over the course of three years has been more satisfying and impactful than previous volunteer tutoring I had previously engaged in. Working at the Butler Center for Service and Leadership, however, has helped me further my understanding that all volunteering opportunities can serve a purpose. By planning community service days and connecting students to over 200 community partners, I aim to challenge my peers to think deeper and understand how each individual can make an impact through service. As a public health-oriented biomedical engineer, I love to solve problems and improve the lives of those around me. I hope to continue intersecting my passions for public health, public service, and engineering to create sustainable solutions in communities of need.