Press Release for Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Best of the Best UNF Alums Recognized During Annual Awards Ceremony
Amanda Dawson, PR Specialist
The University of North Florida Alumni
Association announces the recipients of its alumni awards, honoring several
notable graduates for exemplary service and contributions to the University
during its annual Alumni Recognition Dinner and Awards Ceremony, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 8, at the Student Union Ballroom, Building 58W, Room 3703, on
“UNF alumni, over 80,000 strong, continue to
achieve greatness in their professions and in contributions to their
communities,” said Maxine Cooper, president of the UNF Alumni Association
board. “This year’s award recipients continue that example, representing
outstanding distinction and success, while being excellent ambassadors of the
Honorees include Rep. Travis Cummings, Florida
House District 18; Andrew Rush, Made in Space CEO/president; Shannon Italia,
adjunct instructor and director of the Career Management Center in the UNF
Coggin College of Business; and Dwight Cooper III, Professional Placement
Resources Talent Management Group CEO/co-founder.
Cummings, a Fleming Island resident, is the
recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, the highest award
given to a UNF graduate by the Alumni Association. This award recognizes alumni
who have made a significant contribution to their profession, community and/or
society, having consistently maintained the pursuit of excellence as a
representative and graduate of the University.
“I am honored and humbled to receive this
award. My MBA from UNF has greatly benefited me throughout my career,” said
Cummings. “As a lifelong resident of Northeast Florida, I am very aware of the
contributions this University makes to our community.”
Cummings’ district mainly includes Clay County
residents. He serves on the Clay County Delegation and is a member of the
Appropriations Committee, Rules and Policy Committee and chair of the Health
and Human Services Committee. He previously served a four-year term as the Clay
County commissioner for District 3 and two years as County Commission chairman
as well as Orange Park mayor and councilman from 2002-08.
Cummings is very involved in the community,
including serving as chairman of both the Clay County Charter Review Commission
and the Clay County YMCAs. He also serves as president of both the Jacksonville
KA Alumni Chapter and Jacksonville Bulldog Club. Additionally, Cummings served
on several boards, including the North Florida Transportation Planning
Organization, the Jacksonville Association of Health Underwriters, the
Borland-Groover Foundation, the Boys and Girls Club of North Florida and the
Orange Park Medical Center.
Rush, a Saint Johns resident, is the recipient
of the Young Alumni Achievement Award, presented for outstanding professional
achievement, contributions to the community and exemplary service to the
University. His company, Made In Space, is innovating additive manufacturing,
like 3-D printing, to work in zero gravity and space environments. Rush is also
a patent lawyer and worked for three years as a partner at PCT Law Group.
During his time at UNF, he was actively engaged in the Department of Physics,
worked closely with his mentor Dr. Lev Gasparov, professor of physics, and was
an inspiring role model for students and volunteer.
Italia, a Lakewood resident, is the recipient
of the Alumni Service Award, presented to alumni who have demonstrated
continuous outstanding volunteer service to the University and/or meritorious
public service. In addition to her contributions to Coggin, she has been on the
Advisory Board of Rethreaded since March 2014 and is the current chair. She
also served on the Advisory Board of the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center
from 2011-16. Italia is the founder and advisor to the UNF Women in Business
Society, an organization that was created to develop female leaders. In August
2013, she was recognized as a Woman of Influence by the Jacksonville Business
Cooper, a Ponte Vedra Beach resident, is the
recipient of the Honorary Alumni Award, given to friends and supporters for
exemplary service to the University. For 10 consecutive years, his company,
Professional Placement Resources, placed among the Top 25 Best Small Companies
to Work For in America by the Great Place to Work Institute, receiving the No.
1 spot in 2013. Cooper was assistant coach of the men’s basketball team for
five seasons in the early 90s and then continued as a basketball color analyst
for the University. He’s the former chair of the National Multiple Sclerosis
Society and a long-time advocate for the Brooks College of Health, where he
serves as the immediate past chair of the Dean's Leadership Council. The MS
Society 2017 Dinner of Champions will honor Cooper, joining a list of
Jacksonville's finest leaders, including Hugh Greene of Baptist Medical Center
and UNF President John Delaney.
Tickets to the Alumni Recognition Dinner and
Awards Ceremony are $35 each and are available
. The last day to
purchase tickets is Friday, Feb. 3. The UNF Alumni Association’s purpose is to
foster, maintain and support a mutually beneficial relationship between alumni
and the University.
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.