Press Release for Monday, April 28, 2008

UNF Student Honored for Service at Spring Commencement

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

The University of North Florida will honor a student with an outstanding record of volunteerism when it hands out nearly 1,600 degrees Friday, May 2, during spring commencement at the UNF Arena.

Intracoastal resident Chris Miller, who will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in finance and a 3.75 GPA, will be recognized as the recipient of the Albert D. Ernest Jr. Caring Award and the Senior Service Award.

The Caring Award recognizes a student who demonstrates the spirit of caring, humanitarianism and volunteerism exemplified by Albert Ernest. The UNF Alumni Association presents the Senior Service Award to a graduating senior for outstanding volunteer service to the University or community. The awards will be presented during the 3 p.m. ceremony.

Miller has become well known on the UNF campus and in the community. Over the past four years, he has served at UNF in various capacities, including the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Golden Key, Students in Free Enterprise and the Hates Hurts Peace Ambassadors. As founding chapter president of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Miller recruited more than 400 members to become involved in an honor society, which rewards high academic success among freshman and sophomore students.

Miller’s impact in the community goes beyond Jacksonville and includes numerous projects. In 2001, he spent the summer in Mexico, where he helped renovate an orphanage and restore a Mayan Indian village. Serving as the co-founder of the Hate Hurts Peace Ambassadors at UNF, he has assisted in planning events and campus activities, including a lecture by Holocaust survivor Henri Landwirth that had over 500 students in attendance.

Although Miller feels that all volunteer experience is important, his most rewarding experience was the first trip he took to China during the summer of 2005. During this trip, he taught a course on love, dating and marriage to university students in Beijing and helped obtain supplies for a missionary group.

Volunteering on this trip not only provided him with opportunities to help other people who are culturally different than himself, but the trip also realigned his perspective on how much he can learn from these types of experiences.

“By embracing the unique culture, I learned that I need to be more open to those who are different from me” he said. “I need to step outside my comfort zone and seek out diversity because that is where I will learn the most about myself and the diverse world that surrounds me.” For Miller, volunteering has given him a sense of purpose, accomplishment, social responsibility and confidence in his career goals for the future.

The commencement ceremony for the College of Education and Human Services, Brooks College of Health and the Coggin College of Business will be held at 3 p.m. The College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Computing, Engineering and Construction will hold their ceremony at 7 p.m. Both ceremonies will be held at the UNF Arena.

The University expects to award 1,368 bachelor’s degrees, 212 master’s degrees and five doctorates this term.