15th Annual Torch Awards

A fabulous gala honoring distinguished FIU alumni


Alumna of the Year Darlene Boytell-Pérez with her husband Jorge Pérez (left), Nicole Wertheim and Dr. Herbert Wertheim (right) Alumna of the Year Darlene Boytell-Pérez with her husband Jorge Pérez (left), Nicole Wertheim and Dr. Herbert Wertheim (right)

Distinguished Alumnus Richard Blanco receiving his award from FIU Alumni Association Executive Director Duane Wiles (left) and FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg (right) Distinguished Alumnus Richard Blanco receiving his award from FIU Alumni Association Executive Director Duane Wiles (left) and FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg (right)

Guests enjoying the after-party featuring LED robots Guests enjoying the after-party featuring LED robots
The annual Torch Awards celebrated its 15th anniversary with a gala honoring distinguished alumni in the FIU community.

The event, held at Fontainebleau Miami Beach, raises money for the university’s Alumni Center Building Fund and its First Generation Scholarship Fund, which benefits students who are the first in their families to attend college.

“This event is very important for FIU because it provides us an opportunity to recognize our outstanding alumni that are really impacting not only the local community but the world in terms of what they’re doing,” said Duane Wiles, executive director of the FIU Alumni Association. “It really helps move the needle for the university when we recognize our grads for all the great things they are doing and will continue to do for FIU.”

This year, the FIU Alumni Association honored Darlene Boytell-Perez ARNP ’89, MSN ’96 as its 2016 Alumna of the Year. An advanced registered nurse practitioner and philanthropist, she is a two-time graduate of the university.

“Since this is an institution that gives back continuously, it only makes complete sense that you give back to something that nurtures you and feeds you,” says Boytell-Perez of the pivotal role FIU has played in shaping her life.

For Jonathan Cameron ’07, a graduate of the Honors College and a certified financial planner, receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Honors College was a tremendous honor.

“I owe so much to the Honors College,” Cameron said. “Because of the mix of the different types of classes and professors, and the different students from different fields, I was able to get various perspectives, which is more like real life at the end of the day. So I’m really blessed to be here tonight and to receive this award.”

Inaugural poet Richard Blanco ’91, MFA ’97, who presented his piece “One Today” at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award from School of Environment, Arts and Society in the College of Arts, Science & Education.

“I’ve grown up with FIU since I was a little kid, so it’s wonderful to see how the school has blossomed into this incredible institution,” he said.

The gala’s reception featured a performance by student Monique Abbadie, a singer and contestant on season four of NBC’s “The Voice,” and the night ended on a high with music and dancing.

“Look at the amazing accomplishments of the alumni we are honoring tonight. They’ve done well, and they’re doing good,” said President Mark B. Rosenberg in his keynote address at dinner. “Indeed all of our awardees have demonstrated the importance of paying if forward using their success to make a difference in this world and leaving this world a better place than they found it.”

This year’s honorees included:

Alumna of the Year

  • Darlene Boytell-Perez, ARNP ’89, MSN ’96
    Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner, Gastro Health
    Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences

    Charles E. Perry Young Alumni Visionary Award
  • Charles Alexandre Kenmogne Kamhoua, Ph.D. ’11
    Research Electronics Engineer, U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory
    College of Engineering & Computing

    Community Leadership Award presented by the FIU Center for Leadership
  • Marile Lopez ’91
    Chief Financial Officer, Jorge Luis Lopez Law Firm
    College of Arts, Sciences & Education

    Outstanding Faculty Award presented by the NeuroScience Centers of Florida Foundation
  • Ranu Jung, Ph.D.
    Interim Dean, FIU College of Engineering & Computing

    Distinguished Alumni Awards
  • Gail Appelrouth ’77
    Guardian ad Litem, Miami-Dade County Juvenile Dependency Court, 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida
    Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work

  • Richard Blanco ’91, MFA ’97
    Poet, Author & Civil Engineer
    College of Arts, Sciences & Education, School of Environment, Arts & Society

  • Bruce Blum ’82
    Co-Founder & President, GB Lodging, Inc.
    Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management

  • Stephen Burns ’78
    Vice President & Leadership Advisor, B.E. Smith, Inc.
    Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences

  • Jonathan Cameron ’07
    Co-Founder & CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CameronDowning
    The Honors College

  • Omar Carrion ’07
    Awarded Posthumously
    Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs

  • Diana Farmer-Gonzalez ’96
    Principal & Managing Director, Gensler
    College of Architecture + The Arts

  • Yolanda Nader ’79, MBA ’86
    Chief Executive Officer & Chief Financial Officer, Dosal Tobacco Corporation
    College of Business

  • Stacey Oddman, M.D. ’94
    Former Chief of Family Medicine, Holy Cross Hospital
    College of Arts, Sciences & Education, School of Integrated Science & Humanity

  • Alfredo Richard, M.S. ’94
    Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications, NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises
    School of Journalism & Mass Communication

  • Cindy Russo, M.S. ’78
    Former Head Coach, FIU Women’s Basketball
    Athletics

  • Frank Vilar ’91
    President, OHL-Arellano
    College of Engineering & Computing
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