EACC Florida is giving a voice to the Z Generation, the Young Voices from the Future who have already started shaping the world that they will be living in. Every month in our monthly EACC Florida Newsletter and on this website, read about a young person – a student, an artist, an entrepreneur, an athlete – whose identity, vision, project, achievement – illustrates the vibrancy of Florida’s transatlantic community. If you would like to suggest someone to be featured, please contact Christina Sleszynska at email@example.com.
Teo Bok – Portrait of a Young Artist and Voice of his Generation
“El Mundo que Conocemos Ya Cambio”
Matteo Markus Bok, a German-Italian singer-songwriter and a Junior in a Miami high-school, recently moved from Milano to our Magic City. At just 16, Teo has over 1 million followers on social media and a remarkable artistic career spanning 3 continents – Europe, the United States and Latin America.
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke affecting Italy and his home city Milano, sheltering at his Miami home, he composed a song and produced a video featuring Italian teen social influencers to support the relief efforts of the Italian Red Cross. It’s called “Non Ci Avrai” and you can listen to it here: https://youtu.be/hOjGkTnqN7U. True to his character, in April 2020, he released the same song in Spanish, this time to support relief efforts in Mexico: https://youtu.be/MPWRXi6ISyc.
His career started at age 9 when he participated in a number of musicals including “The Lion King”, “Peter Pan”, “Billy Elliott”, “Priscilla Queen of the Desert“. At 13 and 14, he reached the finals in The Voice Kids of Germany, participated in Italia’s Got Talent and the Sanremo Young (Italy). 2019 was a turning point with the release of his first album “Crusin”, a nomination as “Best Italian Singer” at the Kids Choice Awards in Los Angeles, winner of the Tube Award in Germany, main character in the web series “Cabin 12006” of Nickelodeon and MSC Cruises, and, his first performance at the Zócalo Festival in Mexico. Teo also shared the stage with Andrea Bocelli, at the inauguration of the “Bellissima”, the new flagship of MSC Cruises. Teo released his first single in the US and Latin America at the end of May 2020.
Matteo turned 17 on May 16, 2020. You can find out more about Matteo here.
Nathalie Janata – Portrait of a TCK and Observer of the iGen (aka Generation Z)
“Nature-ly iGen” – Is the tech-savvy youth redefining how we engage with nature?
Nathalie Janata is one of your friendly neighborhood TCKs – Third Culture Kids. Born in Germany from a Colombian mother and a Czech-German father, Nathalie grew up in Bogota, Frankfurt and Miami. Her parents worked for Lufthansa, and like many airlines children, she grew up moving around. In addition to Spanish and German, she also learned English, French and some Mandarin along the way. After highschool in Germany and a year in Paris, Nathalie returned to Miami to attend university and graduated in 2019.
Nathalie’s inquisitive mind drove her to extensively research the tech-driven Generation Z – also named iGen after smartphones. This is a global and highly urbanized generation, disconnected from nature and at the same time burdened with the increasingly pessimistic outlook of a sick planet. “Never before has a whole generation been fully global. Never before have children had quicker access to information and been more interconnected. iGen / Generation Z is one of entrepreneurs, multi-taskers, and activists. They understand the issues and want their future secured. And yet, never before have psychological disorders been more common among our youth.” And never before, has a whole generation so suddenly been confronted with the unprecedented and deep disruptions as the ones caused by the 2020 COVID-19 global health pandemic.
In a class on Global Issues & Film Making , Nathalie and Jamaican-American Salim Lemond, combined thorough analysis with engaging storytelling into an extensively researched, insightful and singular film called “Nature-ly iGen” which looks at how the iGen and the adults around them are coping with these issues. What are “positive and possible” outcomes for the future? How do we understand the next generation and equip them to handle global pandemics? How will all this define the “new normal”? What if, instead of causing more anxiety, digitization could engage rather than distance them from nature?
The business world, innovators, policy makers, educators, academia, and parents, all are looking to this iGeneration who will inherit the planet and its ills for reasons to hope. “ Nature-ly iGen” offers a few hopeful discoveries but also asks what University of Miami Professor and award winning documentary filmmaker Ali Habashi calls: “good questions that are lacking good answers”.
You can find out more about “Nature-ly iGen” and view it here.
Alexandra Von Den Goltz – Student, Inventor and CEO of BeCalm
“Giving girls the opportunity through technology to fearlessly venture into a traditionally male-dominated field.”
Born in Boston to German-Guatemalan parents, Alexandra moved to Miami as a child. She grew up between Germany, Guatemala City, and Miami, speaking German, Spanish and English.
At 13, Alexandra already knew that technology would be a key part of her future.
The logic, innovation, creativity, and reason associated with Computer Science captured her interest and inspired her to learn programing languages such as Python, HTML, and Java. As a Sophomore, Alexandra started STEAM, a club to teach other girls the basics of programming in the hope of capturing their interest and giving them the opportunity to fearlessly venture into a traditionally male-dominated field.
In 10th grade, at age 16, Alexandra realized that many of her peers consistently complained about feeling anxious. With the help of a Guatemalan student programmer and a yoga teacher, she created BeCalm. This app help teens manage their anxiety and stress with stress-relieving methods such as inspirational music, distracting activities, and meditation. All methods which had worked for her. And now, with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting Senior years, schooling and more generally the everyday lives of kids of her generation, she believes that BeCalm can be more helpful than ever.
BeCalm has been available in the Google Play Store since February 2020 and has over 3,400 followers on Instagram.
The National Center for Women & Information Technology selected Alexandra for a National Honorable Mention Award for Aspirations in Computing. She is also a Silver Knight 2020 recipient for the Vocational Technical category. Alexandra is of the Graduating Class of 2020 and will be attending Brown University in the Fall.
To find out more about BeCalm
Fiona Devaux – Student, Creator of “Girls & Boys” Podcasts
Fiona Devaux is 19 years old. She grew up in Monaco in the South of France and arrived in Florida in 2014 when she was 13. Her family moved to the United States in pursuit of the American Dream. They chose Florida because of the warm climate and a network of friends who had chosen the Sunshine State before them. It is with them that she celebrated her first Christmas in America. She started highschool as a Freshman without speaking much English. By the time she graduated, she had learned Spanish and English, deepening the knowledge of the English language by watching television, movies and listening to podcasts. Fiona is currently attending Florida Atlantic University as a Political Science major. Her plan is to go to Law School and become a Constitutional Lawyer. She also works as a receptionist in a barber shop.
Fiona strongly believes that living in the United States is already offering her a better life and more opportunities. One project she feels strongly about is the production of a series of podcasts called “The Girls & the Boys” which she will be developing with a friend. She started having bouts of epilepsy a year ago and decided to share her experience about that as well as discuss issues around self-love, mental health and the challenges of “becoming the best version of yourself” – all topics that many Millenials and GenZ’s are struggling with. While she wants to empower girls, she hopes that adults will also becomes listeners. So watch out for “the Girls & Boys” coming to you very soon!
Charles Molina – Visual Artist
“I’ve been drawing since a child, I was frustrated by my unprofessionalism in realism, but I’ve learned to be patient so I could express myself in my domain, by finding my interest what I found snapping in the history of art, I discovered what influenced me.”
Charles Molina was born in March 2001 in Aventura Miami from Belgian parents. He started drawing as a child and never stopped. He grew up between Miami and Embourg in the south of Belgium and went to school in both cities. In 2015, he went to St. Luc Art School in Brussels where his creativity and exceptional graphic skills were acknowledged by his art teachers. In 2017, he was admitted to the Miami Arts Charter School in Wynwood.
In 2017, Charles sold his first paintings to private collectors such as Michel Chouraqui and the art foundation Art For All. He started exhibiting his work in 2018, and in 2019, had pieces showing in Miami and Paris. He is currently exhibiting in Brussels. Charles is only 19!
Inspired by artistic influences ranging from street art to graffiti, Dadaism to abstract expressionism, his signature is reflected in his fun and symbolic style. He brings an element of popular iconography to his collage work, hijacking comic book heroes to feature in his own stories that he brings to life on his canvas.
Charles was appointed to the Teen Board 2017-2019 of The Bass Museum (Miami Beach Museum of Contemporary Art). In 2020, he was selected to exhibit at the Young Artists’ Gallery (YAG), a yearly juried art exhibit and scholarship program created by the Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove in partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
You can find out more about Charles Molina and his work at: http://www.molinacharlesart.com/
Scylla Blervacq I Nicole Phocas – Advocating for Climate Change and Fossil Fuel Divestment
Nicole was born in South Africa from Greek parents. She lived in Zimbabwe for the first four years of her life before moving to Austin (TX) with her family. She moved to Florida as a student and currently works as a legal assistant in Miami after graduating from the University of Miami with a BA in Political Science and International Studies. Like many from the Greek diaspora, Nicole has dual US-Greek citizenship, speaks Greek and has kept strong links with her cultural background and family in Greece.
Scylla was born in Brussels (Belgium) from a Belgian father and a French-American mother. She grew up in the Capital of Europe and moved to Miami with her parents in 2017. Scylla is fluent in French, Dutch and English. She is a Senior at the University of Miami majoring in Health Sciences with minors in Ecosystem Science and Policy, Public Health and Chemistry. She plans to go to Medical School.
Like many young people from GenerationZ, Nicole and Scylla are deeply concerned about the environmental state of our planet and the risks faced by the place they call “home”: 600,000 people in South Florida face “extreme” risk from sea level rise, with nearly $350 billion in real estate below projected sea levels state-wide – not to mention heat exposure, mosquito-borne diseases, hurricane damage, and habitat loss. This is why, they both got involved in The Climate Reality Project, a global organization founded in 2006 by former Vice-President Al Goreand devoted to solving the climate crisis.
Nicole established The Climate Reality Project Chapter at the University of Miami in 2017 and became its first President. Scylla became Co-President in 2018. The UM chapter recruited almost 400 members over 3 years. They hosted a variety of events with high-level speakers such as former South Miami Mayor Stoddard and started engaging with organizations such as the Miami-Dade League of Women Voters, the CLEO Institute and the Cortada Project led by Miami-based and world-renown artist and sea-level rise advocate, Xavier Cortada.
Inspired by similar initiatives at Harvard, the University of California System, Georgetown and Michigan State University, the Chapter launched its flagship activity – a fossil fuel divestment campaign – in 2019. It calls on the University of Miami to show leadership by freezing any new investments in the fossil fuel industry and fully divesting from these companies, including public equities as well as corporate bonds, within five years. A petition started by the group acquired more than 1100 signatures. The two students spoke up at public events such as Miami’s Climate Symposium 2020 and met with some members of the University’s administration to discuss the prospect of full fossil fuel divestment.
In spite of the impact of the Pandemic, Nicole and Scylla kept the Climate Reality Chapter and dialogue with the UM Administration and other stakeholders alive. As they move on with their professional and academic lives, a new leadership will follow in their footsteps – continuing to raise awareness about climate change, sea-level rise, Miami’s unique challenges, and the historic opportunity the University of Miami has of showing leadership in this area as well.
Adam Solymosi – A Young Hungarian-American Whizz Kid
Adam was born and grew up in Hollywood (FL). His parents immigrated to the United States from Szeged and Kiskunhalas in Hungary. He has a 24-year old sister and the family returns to Hungary every other year to visit family and friends.
At 16, Adam is fluent in English, Hungarian and Spanish. He has always stayed at the top of his class in spite of numerous sports activities, hobbies and passions. An avid swimmer at the age of 7, he transitioned to water polo at 9, participating and winning many competitions. He also excelled at basketball and soccer throughout middle and highschool.
At age 11, Adam grew a passion for motorcycles and cars. He decided to build his first combustible engine motorcycle. Since then he continued to ride motorcycles and now, he has his own Honda Grom 125 CC bike.
He studied aeronautical science in middle-school and joined the school’s Drone Club where he assembled drones, mastered flying them and won numerous drone competitions across the State of Florida. He eventually received an invitation from the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington DC and was recognized by Broward County’s Superintendent for his achievements.
Adam is now a Sophomore in a Cambridge Program in a Fort Lauderdale highschool. He loves to share his passions with others especially younger children, continues studying hard and hopes to become an engineer when he grows up.
Berta Puig – Spanish-American – Reigning World Sailing Champion in the 29er Class
Berta Puig is 18. She was born in Barcelona (Spain) and moved to Miami with her parents in 2005. Her parents are both from Barcelona and the family returns to Spain every year for Christmas and in the summer to reconnect with friends and family. The whole family became US Citizens in 2016. Berta went to highschool in Miami, is fluent in English, Spanish and French, and is a Member of French and National Honor Societies, Rho Kappa.
Berta is a consummate sailor. She has an extensive training and racing background and is the reigning World Champion in the 29er class. She has won multiple championships, both national and international, including Gold medalist at 2019 Youth World Championships in Gdynia (Poland), Silver medalist at 2018 Youth World Championships in Corpus Christi (Texas), and Champion at 2018 Open Orange Bowl and Midwinters East.
Berta graduated in 2020 and was admitted as a Freshman to Stanford University in California and joined its collegiate sailing team as a skipper. Her coaches describe her as “an all-time hard worker, someone who relentlessly practices every skill until she has perfected it. She is a true team player, always looking to raise the bar of the entire group of sailors and coaches she is training with”.
Cadogan Abada – French-American Pole Vaulter Shooting for the Stars
“There is no shortcut to success, so trust the process, be patient, work hard and success will come …»
Cadogan Abada was born in Monaco in 1998 and moved to Miami in 2009 with his parents. He went to high-school at Immaculata La Salle in Coconut Grove. He is fluent in French and English and speaks some Spanish too. Before leaving Florida to study abroad, Cadogan got a license as a kite surf instructor and as a Florida real estate agent. He is currently in Monaco finishing degrees in Business Administration, International Management and Sports Business Management. He comes back to Miami as often as he can to see his family and friends since his connection with the city of sunshine, water sports & the beaches is so special.
Cado’s future in sports may have been sealed at La Salle when he discovered track & field, thanks to his father Patrick Abada an ex-Olympian Pole Vaulter who became his first coach. While studying in France, he became a high-level athlete in pole vault and regularly participates in French and international competitions and championships. He ranked 14th in the French Championship 2020 with a jump at 4m80. His record in pole vault is 5m11. He represented Monaco twice at the Olympic Games of the Small States of Europe.
Right now, Cado is focusing on his sports career and his business life. He is interning at World Athletics, the International Federation of Athletics, in Monaco, where he is learning about sports and event management. In spite of suffering a few injuries in the past year, Cadogan continues training every day after work. He is determined to keep progressing and is shooting for the stars. His obsession is to become a professional athlete and his dream is to be an Olympian.
Miami Native Italian-Bengali Organic Farmer
Founder of the Urban Vegetable Project and St. Simon’s Farm
Moses Kashem is a Millenial. A Miami native, he is the son of a Muslim Bengali father and a Catholic Italian mother who came to the United States as immigrants. He was planning to become a doctor but instead was inspired to devote his career to farming and obtained a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from Florida International University.
When still a student, he started attending St. Simon’s Episcopal Church in South Miami as a secular to get closer to a girl he liked, Erin. He eventually married her at that church with the entire congregation at their wedding. Moses speaks some Italian and returns to Italy as frequently as he can to visit the Italian side of his family and deepen his insights into farming in Italy.
One day, Moses had a crazy idea.
He wanted to turn the four unused acres surrounding the church into an urban organic farm incorporating culturally diversified methods into his agricultural practices. His vision was that it could provide income for the church, for him, and, eventually, fresh produce at local Miami grocery stores.
And it worked!
As demand from his CSA clients, local restaurants and Whole Foods Markets started increasing, Moses refurbished a 2,400-square-foot greenhouse at the Marien Center in North Miami so he could grow vegetables throughout South Florida’s scorching summer. He has also expanded to Indiantown, FL, where he farms 80 acres of certified organic produce.
When he is not in the fields or delivering fresh produce to his loyal CSA clients, you can find Moses working on cars, welding, and boxing.
Find out more about the Urban Vegetable Project and St. Simon Farm here.
Nicolaj is 15. His father is half Caribbean-half Danish, born and raised on a small island in Denmark – Faborg Fyn. His mother was born in North Carolina and raised in New York City. Nicolaj’s parents met in Hong-Kong and he was born in Marbella (Spain). After a few years in Copenhagen (DK), he moved to Charlotte (NC) with his mother to be close to her family for a few years before moving to Miami in 2018. He is fluent in English and Danish and returns to Denmark every year to visit his father and the Danish side of the family.
Nicolaj is in 9th grade at Miami Beach Senior High School and is a golfer. He started in Charlotte’s First Tee and is now in the Miami First Tee Program. He feels very comfortable in Miami’s diverse environment.
Nicolaj has many interests which include online gaming, youth, community, traveling, and the environment. His mother used to work in the non-profits arts sector and literally had him photographed with all kinds of artists and civil rights leaders. Nicolaj is a creative kid and is very aware of his mixed cultural heritage which he considers a true asset. He would like to become a digital video and film producer and also wants to create a multi-cultural e-sports startup as his future business.