Joanna Norris, Associate Director
Department of Public Relations
The University of North Florida will honor two students with an outstanding record of volunteerism when it hands out more than 1,400 degrees on Friday, April 29, during spring commencement at the UNF Arena on campus.
Southside resident, Haylee Linduff, who will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in management and Magna Cum Laude with a 3.7 GPA, will be recognized as the recipient of the Senior Service Award, while UNF senior Rebekah Kelemen, an exceptional student education major who lives in Lakewood, will be recognized as the recipient of the Albert D. Ernest Jr. Caring Award.
The 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 Ernest. The Senior Service Award will be presented during the 12:30 p.m. ceremony, while the Caring Award will be presented during the 9 a.m. ceremony.
Since arriving at UNF, Haylee Linduff has volunteered in many capacities. Her top accomplishments include serving as President of ACCESS218 Club and traveling the world to help victims of misfortune, volunteering with Lutheran Social Services, serving as a Presidential Envoy and a member of Beta Gamma Sigma International Honors Society.
Through her experience with ACCESS218 Club, Linduff has connected with students from all walks of life. Her club partnered with many different philanthropic organizations around the world. In Amsterdam, she helped elderly with housework, gardening, tree-trimming and painting, while in France, she helped the Language School with painting, flooring and yard work. Additionally, she also helped raise funds for Haitian earthquake victims and worked with Chinese scholars teaching English and American culture.
While volunteering with Lutheran Social Services, Linduff worked with a refugee family, helping them adjust to life in the United States, their new culture and connecting with fellow refugees. Upon arriving in the United States, her refugee family didn’t speak English, so Linduff put great energy and effort into teaching them the English language. She said this entire experience was like giving “a gift of new eyes through which to see the world.”
As a component of her Language Arts Methods for Exceptional Learners course, Rebekah Kelemen was assigned to tutor a first-grader in reading, writing and spelling. Although Kelemen’s semester had ended, she knew her student was making progress. With the teacher’s permission, she continued tutoring until the end of the school year. This experience, along with another class assignment, inspired her to begin a tutoring program, Cornerstorne Community Tutoring, last October at an inner-city church, Christ the Living Cornerstone, for at-risk students from kindergarten to grade 12. With the help of community volunteers, the program has averaged a turnout of 12 to 15 students per week.
In addition, Kelemen has been active with World Relief Jacksonville, volunteering in the English and orientation classes for refugees. She assisted in planning lessons, group activities and field trips. She is a member of the Student Council for Exceptional Children, Florida APSE, Pi Lambda Theta Educational Honors Society and the Duval County Reading Council. At commencement, Kelemen will be presented with a bronze sculpture created by Frank Eliscu, designer of the Heisman Trophy. She also received $1,000 award, which went to her charity, World Relief Jacksonville.
The ceremony for the Brooks College of Health and the College of Education and Human Services will be held at 9 a.m., followed by a ceremony for the Coggin College of Business and the College of Computing, Engineering and Construction at 12:30 p.m. The final commencement ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences will be held at 4 p.m. All ceremonies will be held at the UNF Arena.
The University expects to award a total of 1,453 bachelor’s degrees, 233 master’s degrees and 27 doctorates this term.
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