People and Community

Knaul presented with honorary sorority membership

During Zeta Tau Alpha’s annual pink fountain lighting in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Felicia Marie Knaul, a breast cancer survivor, was welcomed into the sorority as an alumna initiate.
Felicia Marie Knaul and Julio Frenk deliver remarks during the annual pink fountain lighting hosted by Zeta Tau Alpha
Felicia Marie Knaul and President Julio Frenk shared their personal experience during the Zeta Tau Alpha event in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month on Wednesday evening. Photo: Jenny Hudak/University of Miami

On Wednesday evening, the sisters of Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA), an international women's fraternity, once again illuminated the Cobb Fountain in Lake Osceola in pink to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month. During the ceremony, Felicia Marie Knaul, a member of the Cancer Control Program at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, director of the University of Miami Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas, and breast cancer survivor, was presented with an honorary bid for membership to the sorority.  

President Julio Frenk introduced Knaul on Wednesday evening, sharing their story of his wife's breast cancer diagnosis. He highlighted the critical role he, and other men, must choose to play in the fight against breast cancer.

In her remarks, Knaul detailed her experience as a breast cancer survivor and acknowledged the impact of breast cancer awareness movements. Since 1989, the number of women in the United States who have died of breast cancer has dropped by nearly 40 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. Improvements in medical treatment and research coupled with advocacy for early detection, Knaul pointed out, have proven to be instrumental in the fight against breast cancer.

“It is no longer a disease that women have to die of,” Knaul said. “And that’s me. I’m living—living with breast cancer, living with a mastectomy, living after 16 rounds of chemotherapy and five years of treatment.”

Following her remarks, Knaul was presented with her honorary bid to become a Gamma Alpha Zeta Tau Alpha chapter member. An honorary bid is extended to a community member from both the collegiate and alumni Zeta Tau Alpha chapters. After the bid has been proposed, it is then sent to the national headquarters, where it must be accepted unanimously by the national council. Knaul is now an alumna initiate of the sorority. She will be a full-fledged member with all its rights and privileges.

"Dr. Knaul has done a lot of work with us in the past. She has come to every fountain lighting, and seeing the courage she has is indicative of a true Zeta sister," said Aliya Redd, a senior and Zeta Tau Alpha vice president for philanthropy and service.

Through their breast cancer philanthropy efforts, Zeta Tau Alpha members have already raised close to $3,000 this year, she added. With events scheduled through the remainder of October, Redd anticipates that number being much higher.

The annual celebration also included comments from Sherry Tilley, the vice president of philanthropy for the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation, and Donna Marakas, a Zeta Tau Alpha alumna. For Caitlin Breidenbruch, a sophomore studying psychology, the cause hits close to home. Breidenbruch shared her family’s experience following her aunt’s breast cancer diagnosis and gave an emotional testimonial about the importance of early detection.

Dr. Carmen Calfa, a breast cancer medical oncologist and associate director of community outreach at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of the University of Miami Health System, highlighted the significance of these students' work in the fight against breast cancer.

"I look at every one of you today, and I am so proud of you," she said. "Seeing everything that you are doing tonight gives me purpose for coming to work every day. I feel really encouraged that one day, pink will be just a color."

Visit to learn more about Zeta Tau Alpha’s philanthropic efforts.