Nursing graduate endows scholarship to honor fallen friend

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Her career arc has taken her from hospital rooms to courtrooms. But Corinne Hodak hasn’t forgotten where she came from or the people who helped her along the way.

Hodak, a 1986 University of North Florida nursing graduate, made a contribution to the University’s recently concluded Power of Transformation campaign in the name of Julie Locquiao, her friend and colleague who died in 2010.

“When I was working as a nurse for about a dozen years before I went to law school, I gained many life-long friends,” Hodak said. “Julie was one of them, and I wanted to honor her memory by giving back to the place that helped me establish myself professionally and personally.”

Hodak spent two years at Florida State College at Jacksonville before transferring to UNF in 1984. At the time, UNF was more of a commuter school with a transient student population, but she said the quality of the education was characteristically solid.

“The nursing faculty was wonderful,” she said. “There was also a great cooperation between nursing and the local hospitals. Students had great clinical opportunities. I worked at St. Vincent’s for my clinicals, and the transition from the classroom to there was seamless.”

During her time in the program, Hodak said she learned firsthand why UNF is viewed nationally as having a powerhouse nursing program.

“It was very intense and very difficult,” she said. “But it did an excellent job in preparing me to become a patient advocate. The faculty always gave us a lot of time to impart some of their techniques and showed us the skills needed to become good nurses. Instead of just showing us how to do something, we were given a good, solid knowledge base about diseases and pathology that provided us a deeper understand of what was happening in the body and why.”

She said the UNF nursing program, which is one of the University’s distinguished flagships, prepared her well for the duties associated with her full-time position at St. Vincent’s. It was there on the intensive care night shift that she struck up a friendship with a group of nurses, including Locquiao. As the years passed and Hodak left nursing for law, she stayed close with her former colleagues. Their bond extended to supporting Locquiao when she developed lung cancer. Hodak had been considering endowing a scholarship at UNF for years, but Locquiao’s death in 2010 inspired her to honor her friend’s memory and help fund a transformational educational opportunity for other prospective nurses.

“The scholarship provides money for entry-level nurses going through the UNF program,” Hodak said. “Julie was truly dedicated to her job and nursing in general, so this is a testament to her legacy.”

Hodak’s legacy is also intrinsically linked to the University. She sits on the Brooks College of Health Dean’s Council advisory board and is a member of the UNF Foundation. With her gift, Hodak hopes to inspire prospective nursing students to start their careers with a UNF education as their foundation.

“The University has grown in so many ways,” Hodak said. “It still has the feel of a small college and students are still able to interact with their professors without being lost in the shuffle, but the on-campus amenities make it a real destination school. I’m honored to be a part of its ongoing growth.”