Skip to Main Content

Press Release for Wednesday, April 25, 2012

UNF Students Honored for Service at Spring Commencement

Joanna Norris, Associate Director 

Department of Public Relations 

(904) 620-2102 




The University of North Florida will honor two students with an outstanding record of volunteerism when it hands out more than 1,600 degrees Friday, April 27, during spring commencement at the UNF Arena on campus. 


Joseph Elkana, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a major in Transportation and Logistics, will be recognized as the recipient of the Senior Service Award, while UNF junior Juile Seals, who is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Community Health, 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 12:30 p.m. ceremony, while the Caring Award will be presented during the 9 a.m. ceremony.  


Elkana, a native of Coral Springs, Fla., has become well known on campus and in the Jacksonville community. Since arriving at UNF, he has volunteered in many capacities. His top accomplishments include serving as a work-readiness mentor and mentor/recruiter for AmeriCorps state and national, UNF Transportation and Logistics Society, Coggin College of Business student ambassador, UNF Presidential Envoy and Delta Upsilon international fraternity. 


            Recording 683 hours of service both on and off campus with AmeriCorps, Elkana has made a tremendous difference for individuals with intellectual disabilities. He mentored students by teaching life skills like cooking, laundry, cleaning, budgeting, creating weekly schedules, using public transportation as well as how to build and maintain friendly relationships within the community.  


            As vice president of the UNF Transportation and Logistics Society, Elkana remained very active on campus and served as a leader to his peers. He organized general meetings, executive board meetings and numerous events hosted by the organization. He also managed large teams of volunteers and was successful with event execution. Additionally, he served as a Coggin College of Business student ambassador, organizing and coordinating professional networking events, including well-attended career fairs.  


            For more than eight year, Seals has engaged in service to her community, reaching out to a varied population. While living in California, she spent countless hours cooking and serving meals in homeless shelters, visiting new amputees in a local hospital and mentoring high school students. In 2006, she began her work with women in prisons and jails, homeless shelters and substance-abuse recovery houses. She received training with God’s Grace Outreach Ministries and conducted weekly church services in a minimum-security prison.  


            Since moving to Jacksonville, Seals has continued on her path of service to others. She has worked with inmates in the Matrix Drug Program at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the St. John’s County Jail. She continues ministering to disadvantaged women through the Cynthia Montello Ministries as well as the City Rescue Mission. Most recently, Seals started a one-on-one mentoring program for women in the St. Johns County jail. After graduation, her goal is to create new facilities for the women she works with and to develop programs that will empower them to build better lives.  


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 Computing, Engineering and Construction at 12:30 p.m. The final commencement ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences will be held at 4 p.m. All ceremonies will be held at the UNF Arena.  


            The University expects to award a total of 1,556 bachelor’s degrees, 246 master’s degrees and 39 doctorates this term. Including the spring 2012 graduates, UNF has issued a total of 58,284 bachelor’s degrees, 15,893 master’s degrees and 266 doctorates since first opening its doors in 1972.