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Press Release for Friday, August 3, 2007

UNF Students Honored for Service at Summer Commencement

Contact: Joanna Norris, Assistant Director
Department of Media Relations and Events
(904) 620-2102

The University of North Florida will honor two students with outstanding records of volunteerism when it hands out more than 900 degrees Friday, August 10, at 7 p.m. during summer commencement at the UNF Arena.

Jacqulyn Simmons, who will graduate with a dual major in psychology and sociology, will be recognized as the recipient of the 2007 Albert D. Ernest Jr. Caring Award, while the Senior Service Award will be presented to Kathryn Fleming, who will receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

The Caring Award recognizes a student who demonstrates the spirit of caring, humanitarianism and volunteerism exemplified by Albert Ernest. The UNF Alumni Association presents the Senior Service Award to a graduating senior for outstanding volunteer service to the University or community.

Simmons wants to practice medicine in developing countries and has accumulated more than 890 hours of community service since she entered UNF in the fall of 2003. She serves as a service-learning facilitator on campus, recruiting other students to become involved in the community.

The Arlington resident has been a mentor for three years with the Jaguar Foundation/UNF Community Scholars Program. The program mentors at-risk high school students from Duval and St. Johns counties, encouraging them to attend college and providing assistance with the SAT and ACT testing process as well as applying for financial aid.

Simmons has also participated in two very different alternative spring breaks offered through the UNF Honors Program. One took her to Ecuador and the Amazon basin, where she and a team of UNF students helped rehabilitate a village school bathroom, rebuild walls, doors and plumbing. She also traveled to Washington D.C. and worked with chronically-ill children at the HSC Pediatric Center, where she conducted play therapy and read one-on-one with children in small groups.

Fleming, a Beaches resident, has served at UNF in various academic capacities, serving as a research assistant for the Psychology Department and a student facilitator for the Honors Program. She has also worked as a therapeutic daycare teacher with a local domestic violence shelter. In addition to her employment and academic work, Fleming has logged hundreds of hours in volunteer service.

Over the past four years, she has been an active member with the UNF Honors Program, the National Honors Society in Psychology, University Scholars, Golden Key and several other organizations. Most recently, Fleming was awarded a research scholarship to study in Belize, where she spent time in Belizean schools teaching lessons, observing child behavior and teacher techniques, and studying treatment of ADHD.

Her community service is extensive and includes projects with the Domestic Violence Advocacy Program, Best Buddies, Ronald McDonald House, Head Start and First Book Organization. Fleming’s most gratifying work was with Head Start and the Domestic Violence Advocacy Program. Volunteering in these programs’ preschools was most rewarding because she was able to work with at-risk children and their families on many different levels, as well as work within their communities.

The University expects to award 696 bachelor’s degrees, 205 master’s degrees and six doctorates this summer.