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Press Release for Monday, December 3, 2012

UNF Students Honored for Service During UNF Commencement

Media Contact: Joanna Norris, Associate Director 

Department of Public Relations 

(904) 620-2102 



UNF Students Honored for Service During UNF Commencement  


The University of North Florida will honor two students with outstanding records of volunteerism when it hands out more than 1,000 degrees Friday, Dec. 7, during fall commencement at the UNF Arena on campus. 


Amy Hernden, who will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in communication, will be recognized as the recipient of the Senior Service Award, while graduate student Travis Pinckney, who will receive his Masters of Education in Counselor Education, will be recognized as the recipient of the Albert D. Ernest Jr. Caring Award. 


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 recognizes a student who demonstrates the spirit of caring, humanitarianism and volunteerism exemplified by Albert Ernest. The Senior Service Award will be presented during the 11 a.m. ceremony, while the Caring Award will be presented during the 3 p.m. ceremony.  


Since arriving at UNF and now four years later, Hernden, a Southside resident, has become well known on campus and in the Jacksonville community for her dedication to service. Her top accomplishments include serving as a mentor through the On Campus Transition program, member/committee chair of the Presidential Envoys Student Alumni Association, member/chair of the Kappa Delta Sorority, overall chair of the UNF Dance Marathon, volunteering for the Ghana project in West Africa and volunteering at the Jacksonville Humane Society.  


Her most rewarding experience has been mentoring through the On Campus Transition program at UNF. Hernden has built a relationship and bond with her mentee that will continue far beyond graduation. “Being a mentor has provided me with a younger sister that I never had until now,” she said. 


Another of Hernden’s top accomplishments is her contribution to Dance Marathon, which is a student-run philanthropic event at UNF that raises funds and awareness for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. After three years and filling various leadership positions, including overall chair, she has been key to the organization raising $88,000. At the Jacksonville Humane Society, Hernden has dedicated her time and passion to homeless animals. In addition to her routine duties, she played an integral role in the planning and production of the 14th annual Toast to the Animals, helping to raise $99,000. She worked to garner food, beverages, auction items and sponsorships, as well as assisting in the Society’s marketing efforts.  


 Pinckney, a 2010 UNF graduate with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, is passionate about mentoring at-risk urban youth to advance the community. Coming from a similar background, he’s well aware of the challenges these students face and is willing to share his experiences with them. “This is my mission and pleasure; to serve the person I used to be and empower the person they will become,” he said.  


As an undergraduate, Pinckney, a Westside resident, collaborated with Dr. Chris Janson, associate professor in the College of Education and Human Resources, to create an afterschool program called “Grind2Shine.” The program, initiated at Paxon Middle School, reaches out to struggling students encouraging them to use writing, poetry and music to create positive messages about college and academic aspirations. In 2009, the after-school program was used as a professional development model for the American School Counselor Association Conference.  


Currently a guidance counselor at Andrew Jackson High School, Pinckney continues to reach out to students via the medium of film. He has written and directed a documentary called “4 Choices.” The film depicts students at three local urban high schools—Andrew Jackson, William M. Raines and Jean Ribault—and documents the struggles these students go through as they consider college and navigate the application process. Pinckney hopes the film will increase college awareness and academic achievement for students in urban schools. 


For the first time, the University’s commencement ceremonies will be streamed live, allowing friends and loved ones across the globe to participate in this milestone for UNF graduating students. Easy Edit Video of Jacksonville will be shooting the ceremony and feeding the event out on the Web at . 


The ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Computing, Engineering and Construction will be held at 11 a.m. The Brooks College of Health, Coggin College of Business and the College of Education and Human Services will hold their ceremony at 3 p.m. Both ceremonies will be held at the UNF Arena. 


The University expects to award 1,037 bachelor’s degrees, 240 master’s degrees and eight doctorates this term. Including the fall 2012 graduates, UNF has issued a total of 60,108 bachelor’s degrees, 16,298 master’s degrees and 280 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.