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Fourth University Innovation Fellows student cohort committed to make a difference

group of UNF students standing togetherA new group of University of North Florida Hicks Honors College students has committed to making a difference on UNF’s campus as part of Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design’s University Innovation Fellows program, which empowers students and faculty to become leaders of change in higher education.

The students include Nicholas Swanger, finance major; Emma Dvorovy communications-public relations major; Mohamed Elbatouty, computer science major; Katherine Evans, psychology major; Aliesha Brown, chemistry major; and Jeffrey Perera, biomedical sciences major.

“This diverse group of highly dedicated honors students went through a rigorous application and interview process before they could even become candidates,” said Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, UNF Hicks Honors College dean and faculty champion mentor. “They are not earning credit for their work—they do it for the experience and opportunity to lead and innovate. I look forward to seeing the projects they will develop to directly impact the University.”

Fellows are nominated by faculty and administrators and selected through an application process each year. Following acceptance into the program, students participate in a 6-week online training learning to analyze their campus ecosystems and identify opportunities for change related to innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking, and creativity.

Students work to understand the needs of peers across disciplines and the perspectives of faculty and administrators. They apply this new knowledge and perspective to design new educational opportunities for their peers. After training, Fellows implement the projects they crafted and continue to serve as change agents and leaders at their schools and beyond.

These student leaders create opportunities to help their peers build the creative confidence, agency, and entrepreneurial mindset needed to address global challenges. Fellows create student innovation spaces, start entrepreneurship organizations, facilitate experiential workshops, work with faculty and administrators to develop new courses, and much more. They serve as advocates for lasting institutional change with academic leaders, lending the much-needed student voice to the conversations about the future of higher education.

With the addition of the new Fellows, the program has trained more than 2,800 students since its creation.