Joanna Norris, Assistant Director
Department of Media Relations and Events
of North Florida will
honor two students with an outstanding record of volunteerism when it hands out
more than 1,300 degrees Friday, Dec. 11, during fall commencement at the UNF
Arena on campus.
Southside resident Zeynep Meric, who will graduate with a
bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, will be recognized as the
recipient of the Senior Service Award, while Victoria Elian, a senior
psychology major residing in Mandarin, will be recognized as the recipient of
the Albert D. Ernest Jr. Caring Award.
UNF Alumni Association presents the Senior Service Award to a graduating senior
for outstanding volunteer service to the University or community. The Caring
Award recognizes a student who demonstrates the spirit of caring,
humanitarianism and volunteerism exemplified by Albert D. Ernest Jr. Both
awards will be presented during the 11 a.m. commencement ceremony.
Over the past four years, Zeynep Meric, a Southside
resident, has become well known on campus and in the Jacksonville community. Since arriving at
UNF, she has volunteered in several capacities. She served as the fundraising
chair for the Robotics and Automation Society, participated as a student
ambassador on the Engineering Advising Council, served as a UNF International
Center greeter and was a
volunteer with “Dogtober Fest,” an annual fundraiser for homeless pets.
Meric has been an active member with the Society of Women Engineers and
president of the Institute
of Electrical and
Electronics Engineers UNF Student Chapter. During her term, she helped arrange
educational meetings as well as coordinated the first UNF Robotics Competition.
has devoted her time and energy primarily in the engineering field. Most
recently, Meric arranged several educational meetings, bringing outside
engineering community leaders to campus to share their real-life experiences
with her peers and campus clubs. These non-classroom settings allowed students
to not only gain more knowledge in the field but also gave them an opportunity
to network with engineering professionals.
is especially passionate about the “Introduce a Girl to Engineering” program
during UNF Engineering week. During this event, young girls from local middle
and high schools visit the UNF Engineering Department to get a hands-on look at
the engineering field. Being historically a male-dominated career, this event
allows female engineering students to showcase their talents to young women in
the hopes of inspiring them to also become engineers. “The feeling of helping
young students, especially young females, by informing and educating them was
great and very rewarding,” said Meric.
Through the Volunteer Center
at UNF, Victoria Elian has worked with several groups, such as the Clara White
Mission and Lutheran Social Services, but the organization closest to her heart
is Stop Child Trafficking Now (SCTNow). After learning that millions of
children throughout the world are bought and sold, including many here in the United States,
she knew that this issue had her heart.
She interned this summer at SCTNow
in Durham, N.C., and, on returning to UNF this fall,
worked with the Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Task Force to organize an
Awareness Week. The week culminated with a community walk of 500 volunteers,
most of them UNF students. Elian continues to speak to groups about this issue
and hopes to pursue a master’s degree in art education and use art therapy to
help rescued victims.
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
expects to award 1,058 bachelor’s degrees, 258 master’s degrees and 8 doctorates
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