Nova Southeastern University graduate student Fiorella Marquez has beat out students from across the state to be awarded and recognized in the Florida Blue Health Innovation Competition finals with her mental health management mobile application, created to provide users with tools and information about mental illness management techniques and copying skills.
This year, for the first time in the history of the competition, two students were awarded honorable mentions for their outstanding efforts. Fiorella Marquez, with her mental wellness and resources application called UoK, was given a cash prize as part of her honorable mention award.
Marquez has developed her innovative application based off her combined experiences and expertise in both mental health care support and entrepreneurial business. Her application complies resources and provides users with all the information they need about anxiety and depression.
For the past five years, the Florida Blue Health Innovation competition has challenged collegiate students across the state to develop and pitch innovative solutions for a variety of problems. The focus of this year’s competition was anxiety and depression, searching for innovative solutions that support management and treatment of the mental illnesses.
Marquez is the only student from Nova Southeastern University selected to one of the 12 teams that competed in the finals at the GuideWell Innovation Center in Orlando’s Lake Nona Medical City on Oct. 10. She was one five total teams to be awarded prize money.
Marquez is deeply devoted to increasing awareness and bettering access to mental healthcare. She is an enthusiastic advocate not only for promoting good mental health practices, but also for reducing the stigma that so often accompanies talk of mental health. Marquez hopes that her application will not only act as a center for information, but also as an education tool that could save lives. With winning an honorable mention in this year’s competition, she is on her way to making her application all that she hopes it will be.
“This has been a seven-year journey for us,” said the director of the USF Center for Entrepreneurship, Michael Fountain. “Back then, we saw that we had so many great universities in Florida and we thought, how can we do something to impact health care in the state, the nation and be an example for the rest of the world. We are looking for solutions to big problems here.” On a similar note, Dave Pizzo, market president of Florida Blue, remarked about how advanced and amazing the student innovations were this year. “It was heartwarming to listen to all your presentations and the passion that went into each one,” he said. “This is an incredible group of students this year.
Judge Kelli Murray summed up the importance of all the students’ passion and dedication best saying, “As I get older, I’ll be very comfortable placing my care in your hands.”