Skip to Main Content

Press Release for Monday, April 27, 2015

UNF Honoring Students’ Service at Spring Commencement

Contact: Joanna Norris, Director
Department of Public Relations
(904) 620-2102

The University of North Florida will honor students with outstanding records of volunteerism and caring spirits, as well as award a posthumous degree, when it hands out more than 1,300 degrees Friday, May 1, during spring commencement at the UNF Arena, Building 34, on campus.

Morgan MacIntyre, who will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in biology, will be recognized as the recipient of the Senior Service Award, while Sara Gaver, a junior majoring in health administration, will be recognized as the recipient of the Albert D. Ernest Jr. Caring Award. Kaitlyn Schwantes, who will be receiving a bachelor’s degree in psychology, is the recipient of the Bill and Angie Halamandaris Caring Internship.

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 as well as the Bill and Angie Halamandaris Caring Internship winner recognizes students who demonstrate the spirit of caring, humanitarianism and volunteerism exemplified by Albert Ernest.

MacIntyre, a native of Merritt Island, Fla., has become well known on campus and in the Jacksonville community for her hard work, passion and leadership. She is involved in the Biomedical Pre-Professionals Club, where she volunteered for more than three years facilitating hearing and eye screenings at Twin Lakes Elementary School. MacIntyre served as both the treasurer and vice president of the Biology Club, where she organized outreach programs at the Malivai Washington Youth Foundation. During these visits, the club brought microscopes, slides and interactive activities to get children interested in science.

Additionally, MacIntyre served as the vice president of external programming for the Presidential Envoys Student Alumni Association, a select group of students who act as student ambassadors for the campus and UNF president. She has also organized countless volunteer opportunities for her fellow members directed toward a diverse range of audiences and needs, from preparing meals at the Sulzbacher Center to visiting Hubbard House for a pizza and game night with the children at the shelter. She has also been very involved in Converge on Campus, a program where she visited Guatemala six different times for week-long trips to build homes, meet tangible needs and share love with community members.

Gaver, who was recently crowned Ms. Wheelchair Florida 2015, is a member of the campus Rotaract Club, an organization committed to service. She is also a member of the Presidential Envoys and has volunteered with several organizations, including Girl Scouts of America, Stop Hunger Now, Harvest Food Bank, Cypress Swamp Ranch and Hope Haven. In her three years at UNF, she has completed approximately 400 community service hours.

Gaver, a resident of Osteen, Fla., was born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, a rare congenital disorder that causes muscle weakness, joint contractures and fibrosis. It’s a condition that requires her to use a wheelchair to get around campus and necessitates 24-hour medical assistance because she doesn’t have much use of her arms or legs.

In 2014, she went to One Spark with her idea, Project Closer, and received crowdfunding support. The idea is to design a campus framework for students with disabilities to live independently and go to school at any college of their choice. Her vision is to create a nonprofit organization based around the Project Closer framework that would be easily transferred to other institutions.

Schwantes, a Tallahassee native, will spend nine weeks this summer interning at the Heart of America Foundation in Washington, D.C. She is vice president of intellectual development for Alpha Chi Omega and responsible for academic achievement and integrity. She is a certified advocate for domestic violence awareness at Hubbard House and leads group counseling for self-compassion practices. Her goal is to obtain a doctoral degree in industrial organizational psychology.

Additionally, Garth Sangree, a UNF senior who passed away in January while kayaking off Jacksonville Beach, will be awarded a posthumous bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the College of Computing, Engineering and Construction. His parents, Mark and Lisa Sangree, will accept the degree on his behalf.

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 Arts and Sciences (art, biology, chemistry, economics, English, fine arts, French studies, history, interdisciplinary studies, international studies, math, music, philosophy, physics, practical philosophy and applied ethics, religious studies, Spanish and statistics) at 12:30 p.m.

The final ceremony for the College of Computing, Engineering and Construction and COAS (anthropology, communication, criminal justice, political science, public administration, psychology, social work and sociology) will be held at 4 p.m.

The University expects to award a total of 1,548 bachelor’s degrees, 216 master’s degrees and 34 doctorates this term. Including the spring 2015 graduates, UNF has issued a total of 67,754 bachelor’s degrees, 17,465 master’s degrees and 396 doctorates since first opening its doors in 1972.

UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.


-UNF-