By Taylor Weldon

Freshman, Journalism major

Innovation (noun): the process of introducing new ideas or devices.

Here at the University of Florida, students are making strides in innovation thanks to one idea that is proving to be a valuable device for hundreds of UF students. That idea is the Innovation Academy.

Innovation Academy picture (

Launched only last academic year, the Innovation Academy is a unique program at the University that is already increasing the number of students who may now reap the benefits of UF’s prestige while also balancing those students more evenly among semesters.

On a unique spring-summer academic schedule, Innovation Academy students can choose from 27 majors and earn a minor in Innovation. During their fall semesters, IA students are free to have a job, take classes at a community college, or study abroad.

Gabrielle Ueberroth, 18, is proud to be a Gator in the Innovation Academy. “I was very unsure and frankly upset when I found out I had been accepted to the Innovation Academy. However, after attending many information sessions for IA I have come to understand that it is an elite program that UF offers to students.”

Gabrielle is right; IA is a great opportunity and is allowing her to work through her first fall semester to save up for her spring and summer academic semesters, as well as other opportunities, such as study abroad and internships, which she plans to take advantage of.

Conversely, the Innovation Academy has caused controversy over its students’ “restricted access” to benefits like student football tickets, access to gyms, and participation in Greek life during the fall. Once students in IA begin classes in the spring, though, they gain access to almost all the benefits of a traditional fall-spring student at UF.

The Innovation Academy is a new program- its rules are likely to be adjusted in the future to be as advantageous to its students as possible. Regardless, IA is a unique opportunity that is allowing creative students like Gabrielle- and hundreds more- to develop their academic skills and become the innovators of our generation.