Andrew Aboujaoude, a third-year UCF student majoring in biomedical sciences, is a member of the UCF Burnett Honors College and the LEAD Scholars Academy. He has maintained a 4.0 GPA while being involved in multiple co-curricular activities. Andrew's involvement in one service program, Hearts for the Homeless, is of special note. He had learned that hypertension was a leading causes of death among homeless individuals, and he wanted to do something to address this situation. Andrew then connected with a local church that hosts free meals for the homeless population. He and other premed students were approved to set up blood pressure screening stations next to the food stations. In fall 2016, Andrew and a volunteer group of 70 UCF students began to provide student-medical services to the homeless population in downtown Orlando. More than 50 homeless people routinely gather nightly for dinner and also receive free blood pressure checks. Students monitor the patients' blood pressure numbers, and those who need medical attention are referred to Grace Medical Home for treatment. From this experience, Andrew has created a nonprofit organization and expanded his efforts to enlist other schools around the nation to join him in serving the indigent.
My first experiences with the social issue of homelessness came when I was volunteering at the Sunday night food shares in Downtown Orlando. After volunteering for some time, I made many homeless friends and learned that there were serious health care issues in this community. Specifically, I realized that one of the most prominent health care issues facing this community was cardiac problems. To help solve this issue, I decided to take an efficient preventative health care approach. I founded my organization Hearts for the Homeless Orlando that seeks to contribute to the well-being of the homeless by providing free blood pressure screenings opportunities and education at food shares. In doing this work, I partnered with multiple free health care clinics and with food shares that serve free meals. Through my service, I have been able to more easily provide my homeless friends with simultaneous access to health care, food, and water. Furthermore, my work has helped many students better understand the homeless health care situation and has inspired them to give back to this community once they become professionals. Besides serving my Orlando community, I have started to spread the mission to homeless communities in Gainesville, Florida, and Nicaragua.