Senior – Exceptional Student Education. Brett’s tumultuous upbringing fueled his desire to make a difference in this world. He served in the Marine Corps in Iraq and is a current member of SERTOMA (Service to Mankind) which raises funds for non-profits such as BEAM, Meals on Wheels, Dial a Ride, etc. In 2012, he was named “Sertoman of the Year.” He's also been a Citizen on Patrol for the Jacksonville Police Department and served meals to the homeless at St. Paul’s Church on Christmas Day. He coaches Jacksonville Beach baseball and the Jaguars youth football. An active volunteer with HEAL, he helped start a short film camp through the UNF Banner Center and started “Bowling Buddies” for students with autism. He served as Assistant Program Director of Inclusion Solution for students with disabilities and started his own mentoring/tutoring program, free of charge.
Senior – Exceptional Student Education. John’s passion is changing mindsets and stereotypes involving people with disabilities. He has participated in events such as Buddy Walk, Autism Speaks Walk, the Clara White Mission and the Brooks Rehabilitation: Celebrate Children event. He coordinates a Christmas party and plays Santa Claus at Brooks Rehab every year. He is also developing a local, state and national employment initiative to help change societal perceptions of persons with disabilities. The UNF Community Based Transformational Learning Center has chosen him as a community ambassador.
Senior - Psychology. “Set backs pave the way for come backs.” Emily grew up in a “dysfunctional” family and her mother’s words gave her the motivation to work for advocacy for mental health. She helped found a mental health advocacy organization on campus, Active Minds, and served as president for two years. She partnered with two students to create suicide public service announcements and co-founded the Jacksonville Youth Council which trains youth to represent the diverse youth voice in community decision-making, most recently working with Duval County Schools on changing the code of misconduct. She has also worked to implement a weekly self-compassion training program at Hubbard House.
Graduate – School Counseling. Lindsey’s goal is to assist people with cutting away those things which hinder them from achieving their goals and provide them with emotional and practical skills to accomplish their purpose. She has an adopted sister with cerebral palsy and has learned to understand the challenging lives people with disabilities live. She initiated a chapter of the International Justice Mission at UNF, a human rights agency, to raise awareness about human trafficking and money for that cause. She also organized a clothing drive for Dignity U Wear and reactivated the UNF Student Florida Education Association (SFEA) for those interested in education while emphasizing community service, serving as president and doubling the membership, as well as receiving a $2,000 grant from NEA.
Ellery Gainza - Recipient
Junior – Community Health. Ellery embraced the foundations for becoming a servant leader through a high school class based on “Habitudes: The Art of Self-Leadership” by Tim Elmore. She strives to influence others in a positive way. At UNF, she has given over 100 hours as a mentor for the On-Campus Transition program, works 20 hours per week as the manager of the Women’s Soccer team and gives 10 hours a week as an officer and volunteer of Baptist Collegiate Ministries. Her goal is a career in occupational therapy serving the less fortunate.
Yanis Cisneros - Finalist
Junior - Economics. Yanis volunteers for organizations including Habitat for Humanity, the Jacksonville Humane Society, the Jacksonville Public Library, the Salvation Army, the American Heart Association, Sulzbacher Homeless Shelter and more. She graduated from Sandalwood High School with an Associate of Arts degree from Florida State College at Jacksonville. In high school she held the position of Director of Activities for the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps unit and organized community service events while she put in over 270 hours of community service herself. In her first semester at UNF, she serves as Vice President of Marketing on the Osprey Hall Area Council. She hopes to start her own non-profit someday.
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