Three University of Florida alumni were recovered and identified from the rubble of the Surfside Champlain Towers South condominium after it partially collapsed on June 24.
26-year-old Argentinian Nicole “Nicky” Langesfeld and 28-year-old Venezuelan Luis Sadovnic were both recovered from the site on July 7, exactly two weeks after the collapse.
Langesfeld graduated in May 2016 and was a part of the UF chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority before graduating from the University of Miami School of Law. She met Sadovnic during her time at UF, and they married each other this year after a beachfront proposal last December in front of the Champlain Towers that once stood 12 stories tall.
A GoFundMe dedicated to the couple to alleviate financial burdens for their families has raised nearly $120,000.
Sadovnic graduated from Santa Fe College in 2014 and later graduated from UF with a bachelor’s of science in food and resource economics in 2016. He was an avid golf player and played for Vinotinto Sub 17, the Venezuelan national soccer under-17 team.
His cousin, Moises Rodan, was also among those recovered from the Champlain Towers rubble.
The two cousins attended a private Jewish school together in Venezuela and were active members of UF’s Chabad Jewish Center.
Rodan, a 28-year-old UF alumnus, was recovered on July 11 alongside his cousin Andres Levine, a Florida International University alumni, who was with him in unit 403 when the building partially collapsed. The Venezuelan graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering.
Stefanie Alvarez, 25, remembers her boyfriend Rodan as a selfless, hardworking individual who aspired to help others in his community. Rodan would often go to the McDonald’s on University Avenue and buy dozens of burgers for the homeless people nearby.
“He would do this around three times a month and wouldn’t tell anyone about it,” she said. “Sometimes I would find out about it, but it was something that filled him with joy—it was something he loved to do.”
The couple, both originally from Caracas, met at Santa Fe College in an English class. Alvarez knew him since he first arrived in Gainesville in 2016, two years after emigrating from Venezuela herself.
Alvarez planned to temporarily move to Miami with Rodan at the Champlain Towers upon returning from Gainesville, just a week after the collapse.
She wants others to know how overjoyed Rodan was about graduating from the University of Florida after he couldn’t finish his civil engineering degree in his homeland.
“Everyone should take an extra step to help others because it’s something Moi taught all of us,” she said. “His perseverance stopped him from ever giving in to a failed exam, computing a bad code, or a bad professor… his biggest accomplishment was graduating from UF, and he was so, so proud to be a Florida Gator.”
Rodan’s legacy lives on through Stefanie, his parents, his siblings, his nephews and nieces, his friends and his dog, Balu.
Contact Isabella Barnet at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Isabella Barnet is a fourth-year telecommunication student at the University of Florida. She is a proud Miami native and Cuban-Peruvian working as the editor of El Caimán. You can find her working on personal film projects, practicing Hispanic dishes, and catching sunsets at Paynes Prairie.