Agents of Change: Meet Florida Tech’s Newest University Innovation Fellows

Enabling and encouraging positive change is at the heart of the University Innovation Fellows program. For the few selected, the goal is to become an agent of change at their school.

And as the writer William Pollard once said, “Without change there is no innovation, creativity or incentive for improvement.”

Fellows push for lasting organizational change. They work towards opening up opportunities for students to engage with innovation, entrepreneurship, design and creativity at their schools. They encourage and advocate for new innovation spaces and organizations. In addition, they also work towards the development of new courses and events that encourage transformation and entrepreneurship.

Their goal is to enhance the ability of their peers to take on the future economy.   Showing others how to make a positive impact is the task at hand.

Humera Fasihuddin is the co-director of the University Innovation Fellows program. In a press release announcing the newly inducted fellows, she shared the program’s ultimate purpose.

“The core belief of our program is that students can be partners with faculty and administrators to help lead change in higher education,” Fasihuddin said. “When we empower students to be the co-designers of the education experience, they create a better educational environment for others as well as themselves.”

Jennifer Schlegel, Ph.D. is the Director for Innovation for Florida Tech’s College of Engineering

“The program is designed to create change agents. It empowers students to create positive changes that impact their campus, community and beyond.” Schlegel said. “The program aligns well with our university mission and engages students to be active participants in improving the student experience on campus.”

Globally there are currently 1,000 University Innovation Fellows hailing from 185 universities.

Florida Tech has a total of 11 University Innovation Fellows,  including this newest leadership circle.

Meet your new Florida Tech University Innovation Fellows

Malia X Ashmead, Biomedical Engineering/Business Administration class of 2019

Malia X Ashmead innovation fellowsIn addition to her studies, Ashmead also serves as a biomedical research assistant, a residents fife assistant and the director of administration for Alpha Phi ΘZ.

For her, being a fellow means being a catalyst for positive change on campus.

“Being a fellow allows me to help students, faculty and the local community connect and collaborate on ways to help improve the knowledge of entrepreneurship and how students can gain access to way to improve and push their entrepreneurial ideas,” Ashmead said. “I believe in student connections, innovation and entrepreneurship and this gives me the resources to help be a leader of change.”

After graduation Ashmead hopes to work for a biomedical company such as Medtronic or Stryker She also plans to go to graduate school or medical school.

“My passion is with bio-materials and the cardiovascular system,” Ashmead said. “I also have a dream of starting my own biotech company focusing on the use of graphene as an alternative material for bone replacements.”

One of her favorite things about studying at Florida Tech is the diversity.

“Being at Florida Tech has opened me to so much diversity and learning opportunities,” Ashmead said. “I have been able to make so many connections from my peers to my professors.”

And she strongly advises her peers to get involved in more than just their education.

“I greatly believe that getting involved in more than just academics is extremely important,” Ashmead said. “Florida Tech has allowed me to do just that. The small school size and my own personal abilities allow me to get involved in a lab, with volunteering and building my network. Florida Tech is unique in that sense. It is a university full of opportunity and diversity.”

Lara Eremita, Civil Engineering, Class of 2018

Lara Eremita innovation fellows
For Lara Eremita being a University Innovation Fellow means having the opportunity to make real change in her community.

“It’s important to me that FIT and Melbourne become a connected, innovative space where students, professionals and locals have the opportunity to explore non-traditional classes and have the tools to become entrepreneurs,” Eremita said. “It means changing the mindset, extracurricular activity or even career path of a student.”

Of the civil engineering fields, Eremita is most drawn to transportation, structures and water resources. Most recently that goal has included wanting to work for the United Nations to develop infrastructure in underserved countries. However she’s also passionate about preserving natural land, native culture and marine life.

“I think having close connections with professors will help my ability to connect with professionals in the industry,” Eremita said.  “And my leadership experience in things like this and other clubs will help me work well in teams.”

Maria Sagastume innovation fellows

Maria Sagastume, Biomedical Engineering and STEM Education, Class of 2018

Maria Sagastume’s passion is health care. Consequently, her future goals are centered on improving health care services. And she believes this can be accomplished by using technology to improve medical equipment. So after graduation, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in human-centered design or health management.

“Being a fellow means that I’m an agent of change on my campus,” Sagastume said. “I’m part of a big network of students around the world that want to promote innovation and entrepreneurship.”

And she feel strongly that her education at Florida Tech has prepared her for future challenges.

“I feel that my education and opportunities at Florida Tech will help me succeed in the future by giving me the technical knowledge, innovative and opened mindset that will help me in my future business or job,” Sagastume said. “I feel that Florida Tech has given me the opportunity to make a great network of both students and professors from all around the world that will be useful contacts for my professional career.”


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