Awards & Recognition

Spring 2016 Senior Service Award

 Sara Gaver

Sara Gaver_SSA 2016 winner headshot



The UNF Alumni Association selected Sara Gaver as the recipient of the Senior Service Award for the fall 2016 graduating class. The UNF Alumni Association selects a graduating senior each semester for outstanding service to the University and the community through volunteerism.

Sara is graduating today with honors from the Brooks College of Health with a Bachelor of Health Administration degree. A remarkable student while at the University of North Florida, Sara exemplified our spirit of servant-leadership and civic commitment by contributing more than 800 community service hours. She also received many awards and accolades including the Albert D. Ernest Jr. Caring Award in the spring of 2015, UNF Top 10 Greek Award in the spring of 2016 and was recently inducted into the Pi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

While maintaining a GPA of 3.67, a true passion for service led Sara to excel not only in academics, but also in her commitment to the University and Jacksonville community. During her freshman year, Sara became a sister of Kappa Alpha Theta and she held three leadership positions. In those roles, she volunteered with Guardian ad Litem, Children’s Miracle Network and the UNF Lend-A-Wing Pantry. These experiences inspired Sara to do even more and she joined the UNF Rotaract Club and the UNF Presidential Envoys.

As her passion for giving back continued to grow, she began thinking of new ways to serve her community. Finding inspiration from a class project in which students were asked to develop a new program and market it to the class, Sara developed Project CLOSER. Her project’s mission was to develop a volunteer corps of personal assistants for severely disabled students in a university setting who require assistance of basic activities of daily living. These student volunteers would be granted a tuition waiver, free room and board and a small stipend in return for their service. With a desire to turn this class project into a reality, Sara entered herself and Project CLOSER into the 2014 OneSpark entrepreneurial crowdfunding festival and raised more than $4,000. The momentum and support for Project CLOSER continued to grow when Sara was selected as one of 12 presenters from 90 applicants to participate in Jacksonville’s inaugural TEDx (Technology, Entertainment and Design) event. The project is continuing to develop, and Sara is working with a mentor on her business plan now.

In 2015, Sara was selected as Ms. Wheelchair Florida and traveled the state advocating for integration, respect and awareness for the 2.7 million Americans with disabilities. She later placed 2nd runner up for the Ms. Wheelchair America title, and continues to be an advocate today.

Sara’s many involvements and contributions go far beyond what is included here, and truly reflect that she is an outstanding Osprey. She is an example of a passionate, conscientious and driven leader and a great representative of the University of North Florida. She characterizes what the Senior Service Award represents, and we have no doubt that she will be successful in her next journey and make us proud to call her an Osprey alumna.