Press Release for Monday, December 8, 2008

UNF Senior Recognized for Outstanding Volunteer Service

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 more than 1,200 degrees on Friday, Dec. 12, during fall commencement at the UNF Arena.

UNF senior Jessica Rockwood, a Southside resident, will be recognized as the recipient of the Senior Service Award during the 11 a.m. ceremony. The UNF Alumni Association selects a graduating senior each semester for outstanding service to the University and the community through volunteerism.

Rockwood will graduate this week with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and a G.P.A. of 3.82. She has become well known on the UNF campus and in the community. Over the past four years, Rockwood has volunteered in several capacities, including serving as a medical volunteer in Haiti with Students Without Borders, a mentor with UNF Community Scholars for an at-risk high school student, a volunteer in the Mayo Clinic’s Emergency Department and participating in two alternative spring break service trips to Ecuador.

As vice president of Students Without Borders, she helped transform the UNF campus club into the international organization it is today, including planning and participating in a relief trip to Haiti. Rockwood’s compassion and drive is focused on serving those in need, and more specifically, those in the most impoverished areas of the globe. She feels strongly about her ability to not just help those in need but to teach them how to help themselves and each other, and thus, change the world.

While a student at UNF, Rockwood collaborated on research regarding environmental sustainability and medicinal properties of tropical plants to further her knowledge of how to make these changes. Although she feels that all volunteer experience is important, her most rewarding experience was a trip to Haiti during spring break this year. While traveling with the Students Without Borders team, she was not only provided opportunities to interact with, learn from and help people who are culturally different than herself, but the trip also solidified her passion for service and her future in the medical field.

“It forced me to dip into the very core of my soul, whereby I realized that when there is a will and a passion to help people in need, willing and able bodies can make marvelous things happen,” said Rockwood. Following graduation, she plans to attend medical school and work with medical mission teams in destitute areas of the world.

The ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Computing, Engineering and Construction will be held at 11 a.m. The Brooks College of Health, Coggin College of Business and the College of Education and Human Services will hold their ceremony at 3 p.m. Both ceremonies will be held at the UNF Arena.

The University expects to award 962 bachelor’s degrees, 256 master’s degrees and 3 doctorates this term.