Senior Nuclear Engineering Major from Miami, FL
Hello! My name is Kenneth Fernandez. Growing up, my family would attend Sunday mass regularly mostly because we found it an obligation. As the years passed, we would seem to make more and more excuses not to go to mass. When I was 14, my dad did the Emaus retreat at our local church, St. John Neumann in Miami, FL and we began attending mass every Sunday. Although we would go every week, I felt like I did not have a strong connection with God. Later that year I did a retreat called AGAPE for high school students. That retreat changed my life. Since then, I have gotten more involved by giving talks, serving in multiple retreats, volunteering in the community, and serving God through music. After moving to Gainesville, I have continued to serve at St. Augustine's in music, Nueva Alianza, and now as one of the Co-Coordinators for Catholic Gators. This upcoming school year brings excitement knowing that new students will be able to grow closer to God. If you have any questions regarding Catholic Gators, please feel free to ask me!
Senior Health Science major (Pre-OT) from Indiantown, FL
Hi friends! My name is Maggie Powers, and I am so honored to serve as one of the Co-Coordinators for Catholic Gators this year. I have grown up in the church, but I did not begin to truly build a relationship with God until I found the Catholic Gators. I have changed so much since then, and am continuing to learn new things about my faith every day. I have previously served as the Development Coordinator for Catholic Gators, and I am so excited for this upcoming year!
When I am not around the church or Hurley (the Catholic Gators Student Center), I can be found exploring new coffee shops, cheering on the Gators in the Swamp, and adventuring in the great outdoors. If you see me around, please say hi!
Junior Biology major and Chinese minor Wheaton, Illinois
Sophomore Materials Sciences and Engineering Major from Clearwater, FL
My name is Michael Hedrich and I got involved with Catholic Gators after attending the Alpha retreat the fall of my freshman year. I had heard a lot about Alpha from my older sister but I had no idea how many people I would develop authentic friendships with over the course of just one weekend. That retreat was just the beginning of my spiritual journey. After being a part of Alpha Team the following semester is when I truly made a conscious decision to turn fully to God in every aspect of my life. I became increasingly more involved with FOCUS and Coalition and have made so many more friends. I’m not sure where I would be without this community.
I am a sports fanatic both playing and watching, I love Marvel and DC movies, I actually enjoy my engineering classes, my favorite saint has to be St. Michael, and I love being a Gator!
Sophomore Public Health major (Pre-Med) from Orlando, FL
I am Silvio Martinez, and I am a Venezuelan-American and the first in my family to go to college in the United States. One of the things I was most excited about going into my first year at UF was joining Catholic Gators because I had heard about the family and fellowship that it offers—from retreats and Bible studies to service events and Adoration. I am currently in my second year pursuing Public Health, on the road to become a doctor. As Service Coordinator, I am working hard this year to increase participation in events, and I am open to any ideas to improve service within Catholic Gators! Feel free to contact me with any questions, and please pray as our ministry grows this year to help the needy in our community.
Junior Health Education and Behavior Major from Ocala, FL
Hi friends! If you know me, you know this is how I greet almost every person I encounter. The great thing about attending a large university is we are encountering new people on a weekly basis, and what better way to develop a friendship than to introduce them to the beauty and tradition of our faith! Fortunately, we have a wonderful Catholic church and student center that allows us to show our old and new friends the love and mercy of Christ every day. Over the past two years, St. Augustine Church and Catholic Student Center has become my home away from home, and it is has given me the opportunities to pray, love, and serve alongside some of the most faithful people I have ever known.
I am humbled that I get to serve as your spiritual coordinator, and I hope I can bring Jesus and His Church into your hearts and minds this school year! If you see me on campus, reach out! I love to meet new people. I also love quietly praying before the Eucharist, spending time outdoors (but really wishing I was hiking in a national park), eating cereal and pop tarts, getting excited over the little things in life by saying, “Wow I’m excited”, watching a good movie that makes me cry, listening to and singing along to almost every song in country music, talking and laughing with my mom and dad, wishing I was Rory Gilmore or a wizard at Hogwarts, cheering on the Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish 24/7, and just smiling because this life is SO good!
Senior Nursing Major from High Springs, FL
I am blessed to have been able to grow up in a large family of 9 children, and ever since I was little my parents always taught me to love God and serve Him in all I do. My father was ordained a deacon 20 years ago and I believe this calling of serving the Church has in turn led the whole family into a more intimate and deep relationship with Christ.
It was really my sophomore year, after going to a Steubenville Conference that summer, when I began to experience a personal relationship with Christ. Following my present vocation as a student has allowed me to grow closer to Jesus through the Heart of Mary, and I am so thankful for the Catholic Gator community for its loving and welcoming embrace as a community serving Christ.
The Respect Life Ministry has always been dear to my family as a whole, and so it is within this ministry I feel God is calling me to bring all students to come and pray for those who are contemplating abortion or who are hurting from abortion. It is my hope and prayer that through this ministry, we will all be able to join together and pray as one community for an end to abortion in Gainesville.