Student Testimonials - COAS Award Winners From Past Years 

Department of Art & Design

Outstanding Student in Graphic Design: Peter Nguyen

As for my success at UNF, I attribute it to my hard work, determination, and willingness to have an open mind to be creative and seek new goals. Every professor I have studied under has made some impact in my life and education , especially the professors of my given concentration, both current and past. They have taught me the foundation to build my future career upon and encourage me to keep exploring possibilities . Special thanks goes to my family and friends for their support through the years in times both good and bad to keep me focused on my goals.

Department of Biology

Academic Achievement Award: Ashik Shrestha  

I attribute my success to my parents, friends and teachers. My parents have always been supportive and encouraging. My friends here at UNF have been helpful and I have learned a lot from them. The UNF Biology Department is great, especially my mentor/teacher Dr. Judith Ochrietor, who has been my source of inspiration.


From my part, I just carried my responsibility as a student. I have worked hard for my achievements, and am going to continue doing so in my future.


Excellence Award: Kathryn Mince 

I think that I stayed motivated and focused and surrounded myself with people who kept me on the right track (family, friends, professors). I have always strived to be the very best at everything I do, and have always participated in a large variety of activities. However, school was always #1 for me and was put above everything else. My research professors, Dr. Michael Lufaso and Dr. Judith Ochrietor, were incredibly supportive both in the classroom, research labs, and outside of class. There is also Marcia Ladendorff, my first Honors professor for a 6-hour honors class called Constructing Realities. Without her class, I can honestly say that my college experience would have been completely different. Finally, there is Matt Davies, whom I had for several chemistry labs and currently grade for. He has been very supportive and always there to offer a helping hand or just someone to talk to. My family has always supported me in all of my endeavors. Their support always encouraged me to do my very best at everything I do. My friends helped shape me into the person I am today and kept me sane on my path to getting into medical school. I stayed determined and focused on achieving my goals. I allowed myself to participate in a variety of activities, clubs, and leadership positions . I love UNF and have absolutely loved my last 4 years here. I am incredibly sad to have to leave, but so grateful for all the experiences I gained. I could not have asked for a better undergraduate education.

Department of Communication

Academic Achievement Award: Nicole Hernandez  

The biggest contribution to my academic success would be my parents because they have always emphasized devotion to academic success and completing coursework above the teacher's expectations. As for who on campus made a difference in my life, I can't say only one person. Dr. Paula Horvath-Neimeyer and Dr. Berrin Beasley have afforded me wonderful opportunities outside of the typical journalism coursework. They have both shown amazing support and offered a lot of guidance during my years at this university. Dr. Robert Bohle also contributed because I never walked away from his classes without having improved some skill or been exposed to a certain element of mass communication. Dr. John Parmelee and Dr. Brian Thornton have also sparked my interest in a possible career outside of reporting, in particular academic research and practicing law, respectively. Amanda Billy, a friend and fellow student journalist, has always been a sounding board and great editor for assignments, or just life in general. I don't think I did anything specific outside of committing myself to performing my best, pushing myself to improve, and doing what was asked of me with a pleasant attitude.

International Studies Program

Outstanding Undergraduate in International Studies: Robert Conrad  

I think that the professors here on campus made the greatest contributions over all. They are the unsung heroes of this university. There is one professor in particular that made the greatest impact on my time at UNF: Dr. Pamela Zeiser. Her enthusiasm for her course material is infectious. For instance, she turned a course on International Relations Theory into something truly enjoyable and interesting, which was incredibly unexpected. She graciously took me on, mentoring me in research, reviewing draft after draft, and bringing my Thesis document to fruition. I just wish there was some way I could repay her for all she has done, she turned me into a scholar. Professor Nancy Soderberg is also a teacher worth mentioning. She exposed me to a field of study that I am now passionate about and has instilled the confidence in me to achieve greatness and do well in this chaotic world. Both Professors Joanne Davis and Linda Gaskin (RIP) made learning French and Latin a "piece of gateaux," and made what was to be a daunting experience quite the opposite. I was thankful to have met Professor John Oliver, who taught me more than I could have ever expected to learn about myself... but, the course was Sexuality and Spirituality. He made me comfortable with being me and opening my eyes to what I want and crave in this life. To wrap this up, I would also like to extend my appreciation to Dr. Ron Lukens-Bull for guiding me during the Honors Portfolio process, Professor Thomas Serwatka for teaching a groundbreaking course on homosexuality, and Meghan Hotchkiss at the Study Abroad Center for helping me get to Cyprus last year. I'm sure there are many others I am forgetting to mention though!!

My family, mainly my mom and step-dad, have acted as my rock. Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed or daunted by some obstacle or have a problem, they are always there to guide me through it and talk things over with. They've acted as my motivators to keep me going and they have always encouraged me to persist no matter what.
I can attribute my success to those mentioned above and this never-ending drive I've had in me my whole life that keeps me going. I somehow managed to pull off great grades while working full time. I've had to sacrifice fun for the most part of the last two years, but it will be undoubtedly be worth it in the long run. 

Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures

Spanish Scholar: Lucía Allen  

I attribute my success at UNF to my parents. It may sound like a cliché, but my mother and father instilled in me a desire to perform to the best of my abilities. I had the continuous support of several staff members at UNF, including Dr. Otilia Salmon, Prof. Nuria Ibanez, and Dr. Jorge Febles. Having the support of my friends and family, but also knowing they expected me to succeed, factored into my success at the University of North Florida.


Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Outstanding Graduate Student in Mathematics: Anuradha Priyadarshani  

It was a great opportunity to attend to University of North Florida as a graduate student in Mathematics with graduate teaching assistantship. Although I'm an International student, I was fortunate enough to have great professors and friends. In this peaceful environment, I was able to complete my studies very successfully. 

The Department of Mathematics consists of excellent faculty members and students. I could not forget the kind assistance of the chair of Department of Mathematics Dr. Hochwald and the graduate advisor Dr. Pali Sen. In my first few days in UNF, they helped me a lot. Due to the excellent and effective teaching of my professors, I was able to understand the subjects well. Because of that and hard work I achieved good grades. At the end of first semester, I received the International Student Academic Merit Award in recognition of my academic achievements. In addition to that I was awarded the membership of Pi Mu Epsilon, National Honorary Mathematical Society. These awards and memberships made me more motivated to complete my academic work enthusiastically. Also, Dr. Adel Boules who is my thesis advisor and one of my professors helped me lot to finish my thesis successfully.

Also, my husband gave me a great support and immense encouragement to achieve my successes. He made a peaceful environment, to carry on my academic work successfully. Although my parents live in thousand miles away, their blessings encouraged me to achieve my academic goals.


Outstanding Graduate Student in Statistics: Ian Mouzon  

I am more than aware that the position I am in is the result of more than just my own hard work. Without the hard work of the faculty in the department of Mathematics and Statistics I would never have been in the position to learn as much as I have, and without their diligence and high standards, I would never have learned to love math. 

The best professors I have had, regardless of the course and department, are the ones who made the effort worth it. Even little recognitions meant a lot to me. Dr. Boules stopped me on the green once to tell me that I had done very well on my Calculus 2 final, and that he had noticed I was very good at math. Dr. Zhan asked me if I was a natural mathematician. When I told him no, he told me that that was good, since hard work is the more important. Barbara Roberts, my lit professor, made me believe that I could do whatever I wanted if I worked hard enough.

Looking back on the time I spent studying, I realize that there is almost nothing I would have been better off doing. Because I really learned how to think about art, how to solve differential equations, and how exactly Plato's cave works, I have a much happier day to day life than I ever could have if I had just gotten Cs so that I could graduate. My thought life is richer, I make better choices, and I enjoy deeper relationships because I believed that working hard in school would make me a better person and the best professors made that work pay off. I am a better person for having sat in Dr. Gleaton's class, for having written programs for Dr. Boules, and for doing probability with Dr. Bell.

Department of Music

Outstanding Music Scholar Award: Philip Lipton  

I have always held high standards for academic performance. In music, I have begun to truly love my study of the clarinet and know that the study is a never ending experience.

UNF has helped me to develop all the facilities which I need in my study of clarinet masterworks.
My clarinet professor Dr. Guy Yehuda is truly a world class performer and teacher, who I can directly attribute almost everything I have learned about clarinet performance to.

Aside from music, my semester study abroad exchange in Spain really forced my growth as an individual and left a strong impact on my life viewpoint. It was the chair of world languages, Jorge Febles, who I collaborated with to invent a unique exchange program connecting my Spanish language and culture studies with music, as I enrolled in the University of Cantabria and the local conservatory in Santander. Prof. Febles is someone who I know I can always rely on for advice and guidance. He is my mentor.

All of my morals which keep me driven stem from my upbringing. Both my parents have come to support all of my important clarinet performances and strongly encourage my study in the arts.


Outstanding Musician Award: Michael Emmert  

My success at UNF came through a combination of my own personal striving for success and the diligent help of my professors. One specific person who I can attribute most of my accomplishments to is Professor Bunky Green. The knowledge and inspiration he passed to me will continue to affect me for the rest of my life. In addition to Bunky, my friends and family played a critical role in my development. Through my peers, I was constantly pushing myself to be a better musician. My family was very supportive, both emotionally and fiscally. It was a total effort between all of the mentioned people that led to my accomplishments.


Outstanding Musician Award: Nathanael Edwards  

As I reflect on my experience here at UNF I can't help but be humbled by the immeasurable time and effort that was put into making me a better musician and person. Over the last four years I have come in contact with many teachers, but the two most influential were Dr. Smart and Dr. Tasher. These two individuals guided me in learning to play and sing music with more fervor than I thought possible. I was overtaken from the moment I began at how simple yet complex their musical guidance was. Most of the time it was as simple as putting more heart and ear into what you are doing, listen to yourself and make more "music". My family in particular has been completely supportive of me in my endeavor to accomplish my goal of graduation. I know, considering I lived at home all four years, I could not have done it without them. I look forward to taking what I have learned here and sharing it with others in the world.

Department of Political Science and Public Administration

Excellence in Service and Academics in Public Administration: Jessica Eichhorn  

I attribute much of my success at UNF to the transformative and tangible learning experiences. Through real-world projects and experiences, I was able to apply classroom based skills and theories to my work environment. I must add that the faculty of the UNF MPA program provided much guidance, insight and support through my two years at the University and helped to direct me to where I am in my career today . Coming from a family that works in education, the value of continuing education has always been stressed and acknowledged. My friends and family were behind me all the way and supported my dream of entering the nonprofit world. Overall, my successes at the University of North Florida were largely the combination of my personal ambition, family and friends support, transformative learning experiences and the expertise of the faculty. I was able to pursue my ambitions to the full extent because of the highly engaging curriculum along with professional experiences and resourceful staff.

Department of Psychology

Outstanding Undergraduate Psychology Student: Lianne Bronzo  

When I get back, I plan to work and try to conduct another research project at UNF and help out with my research team. Although I am graduating, I don't think I can let go of being a UNF student. I also plan on applying to graduate schools in the fall. I have received informal offers to work at Children's Homes Society of Florida and specializing in adoption. In Fall 2011, I want to pursue a PhD developmental psychology program to study cognitive development in children. However, these plans are not set in stone. I am also considering a master's in social work program to really work in the field of adoption, but I am not sure yet.

I attribute my success to the faculty and students at UNF. The faculty are simply incredible. I have never met people who believed in me as much as they have. They put countless amounts of hours editing my work, bringing me to conferences, individually teaching me about statistics, research methods, etc. I have met individually with many professors to talk about graduate schools and careers in psychology. I utilize all of the resources such as the counseling center, career services, women's center, etc., which has been helpful for providing help in areas when I needed them. In particular, I would like to acknowledge Dr. Christopher Leone, Lou Anne Hawkins, Dr. Daniel Philip, Dr. Michael Toglia, Dr. Jacob Vigil, and Dr. Susana Urbina.

I got involved in many organizations and attended many workshops to learn about things like fundraising, social issues, and resume building. The students have also motivated me to stay determined and strive for my goals. Melissa Bright and Josh Clarkson are former UNF students who guided me (and still do while they are at PhD programs) on everything from writing a thesis to interviewing for graduate schools. Now, I am in her position as a senior and I mentor younger students about undergraduate research and future plans. I hope I make a difference in their lives like Melissa and Josh have done for me.

I truly never believed in myself until I came to UNF. I always achieved good grades in high school, but I used to attribute them to luck. Now, I have confidence in my ability to succeed. All I have to do is stay motivated, work hard, stay focused, and just ask for help from the experts. I learned that they love talking about what they know and I use these resources to learn as much as I can while in their presence. Many faculty have told me that they find it rewarding to see their students succeed, so the mentor/protégé relationship is a two-way road.

I can go on and on about how much I love UNF, but I'll end there for now!


Outstanding General Psychology Graduate Student: Christopher Stanzione  

My success at UNF is solely on the high quality of learning and intense level of academic work expected. Many members of the psychology department have assisted me not only in course work but in research and future career plans.

Dr. Susan Perez, my thesis advisor and mentor, has made a very large impact on me as a growing individual, future researcher, and academic. She has held very high standards for me and I respect her and her work ethic very much. Many other members of the department, such as Dr. Danny Philip, Dr. Mike Toglia, Dr. Rebecca Marcon, and Dr. Dan Richard have also had strong impacts on my development in the MAGP program.

My family and friends have been unbelievably supportive of me for my plans to continue my education and obtain my goals. Without my parent's guidance and support I would not be able to achieve what I am really passionate about: higher education, teaching, and research for the future.

By engaging in field research in Duval and St. Johns county for my thesis project, choosing to work with a special population (i.e. the deaf), my strong letters of recommendation and GPA, I was admitted to GSU.

Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Outstanding Sociology Graduate: Eleni Akapnitis  

I think my time here at UNF was so successful because of some great advice my older brother gave me before I started college. He said to get to know my faculty members. Go to their office hours, ask questions, make sure they know who I am, and make sure to get to know them and their interests. Because I decided to take that advice, I developed great relationships with the Sociology faculty. I did a research project with Dr. Paulsen, I now work with Dr. Will, and I know that I can go to any of my professors with questions, concerns, advice, etc. They've also been instrumental in helping me figure out career and academic goals and writing letters of recommendation for me.

The UNF LGBT Resource Center has also made a huge impact on my life, professionally and personally. I've met so many great people (students, staff, faculty AND Jacksonville community members), received financial assistance (through working and a PFLAG scholarship) and gained leadership and public speaking experience.
My friends and family have also been quite supportive of my personal, academic and career related endeavors. Without that support system, I don't think I would have had the same, positive experience.

To be successful here at UNF I just tried to keep that balance between academics and the rest of the college experience (clubs, school functions, friends, etc) and reached out to others when I needed it.