Press Release for Wednesday, April 12, 2006

UNF Students Recognized for Caring Spirits

Contact: Joanna Norris, Assistant Director
Department of Media Relations and Events
(904) 620-2102

One is a biology major and aspires to return to her native land of Jamaica as a physician, and the other is a secondary English education major who dedicated herself to one local non-profit organization, so she could learn and grow as an individual. Both University of North Florida students were recently honored for their caring spirits.

Melissa O’Connor was awarded the 2006 Albert D. Ernest Jr. Caring Award, which recognizes a student who demonstrates the spirit of caring, humanitarianism and volunteerism exemplified by Albert Ernest. She received a bronze sculpture created by Frank Eliscu, designer of the Heisman Trophy, the Oval Office’s Presidential Eagle and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She also received a cash award for a charity of her choice.

Catherine Anthony is the recipient of the 2006 Bill&Angie Halamandaris Caring Internship. She will intern at the Heart of America Foundation in Washington, D.C. for eight to 10 weeks. Heart of America Foundation is a national, nonsectarian, nonpartisan, nonprofit, humanitarian organization that celebrates, honors and empowers young adults who enrich the human race with the quality of their lives.

O’Connor, 21, graduates from UNF April 28, with a major in biology and a minor in public health with honors. In addition to maintaining a 3.78 GPA and meeting her rigorous academic requirements in the Honors Program, she has involved herself with several volunteer activities both on and off campus since her freshman year. Organizations where she has volunteered include the JCL Prison Mission; Mayo Clinic; Boggy Creek Gang Camp; HabiJax; Clara White Mission; Breast Cancer Society; and the JCL New Orleans Clean Up during spring break in March.

O’Connor’s most notable volunteer accomplishment has been the organization and implementation of symposia aimed at increasing minority representation in the medical field. As director of the Minorities in Medicine Student Symposium, she planned and coordinated information for participating high school students wishing to enter the medical profession. The symposia included an exhibition hall with participation from medical and undergraduate representatives, faculty from all Duval County high schools, inspirational speakers and local vendors.

Anthony, 20, is a junior Honors Program student majoring in secondary English education. She has been involved in numerous volunteer activities since her freshmen year while maintaining a 3.72 GPA. Anthony has tutored students in language, arts and math; volunteered at the Jacksonville public Library, Humane Society and Hubbard House; taught Sunday School; and has facilitated a domestic violence service learning project with the Honors program at UNF.

Her most notable volunteer accomplishment has been the organization and renovation of the Hubbard House library, which provides self-help and parenting books for the women in the program, as well as an area for children to read and learn. Anthony initially got involved with the children at Hubbard House to help them with reading and writing skills; however, she saw outdated sets of books that were not helpful to the children or the women.

As part of her Honors portfolio project, she led the task of coordinating peers and volunteers for the renovation. They began sorting through old books, discarding unnecessary copies, securing new and donated books, and re-decorating the room with new paint plus a mural on the wall for the children’s area. The new library currently displays a more serene environment, with new books organized by genre, pictures on the wall, and a fun place for children to read.