Dr. Robert “Bob” GrahamDoctor of Education, 2004Master of Education, 1995Dr. Robert Graham has dedicated his life to serving others and personifies the characteristics of a Distinguished Alumnus. He is the Executive Director of the Children’s Resiliency Project, a researched-based, non-profit foundation that he founded in 2005. The project exists to improve the quality of life for children orphaned from the AIDS epidemic and maintains offices in both South Africa and Jacksonville, Florida.In 1999, Dr. Bob Graham dreamed of a day when he and his family would move to South Africa to help the country with its massive orphan population (currently 1.9 million). The AIDS epidemic orphans a child there every 14 seconds. Bob’s education was an important part of the plan. In 2000, he began his doctoral program and focused his research on the resiliency of at risk children who, despite numerous obstacles, were able to succeed in life. Upon graduation, Bob left a secure position at University Christian School in Jacksonville and began raising funds for the project. Finally, in 2006, he moved his wife and two youngest children to South Africa and two years later his dream became a reality. After a great amount of faith, determination and hard work, the Children’s Resiliency Project was born. Today the children’s village consists of nine homes that house six children each. The project coordinates education, social services, and religious education needs of children and provides a safe and caring environment that promotes their growth and development as productive citizens. African parents or grandparents, all carefully screened volunteers, are placed into the village homes to raise the children in a family setting. While the South African Children’s Resiliency Project is a faith based organization, Bob respects the African culture and believes that the children in the village should not be subjected to total Eurocentric enculturation, but that the staff should assimilate into their culture.Those who nominated Bob describe him as, “one of the finest people I have met’, “a man of integrity”, “an analytical thinker…focused on fulfilling the needs of others’, “kind, altruistic, magnanimous and generous”. Without doubt, Dr. Bob Graham truly embodies the spirit of a model UNF alumnus. Because of his personal commitment, professional achievement and lasting contribution to the children of South Africa, it is our great pleasure and privilege to present him with the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.
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