The University of North Florida will honor students with outstanding records of volunteerism and caring spirits, when it hands out 932 degrees Friday, Aug. 2, during summer commencement at the UNF Arena, Building 34, on campus.
Senior Molly O’Brien, who will graduate from the College of Arts and Sciences with dual degrees—a Bachelor of Science in biology and a Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary studies—will be recognized as the recipient of the Senior Service Award, while Julia Myron, a senior graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in international studies with a concentration in international relations and politics, 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 students who demonstrate the spirit of caring, humanitarianism and volunteerism exemplified by Albert Ernest.
While maintaining a 3.44 GPA, O’Brien has exhibited enormous dedication to making a difference at UNF and in the Jacksonville community. Environmental and sustainability efforts on campus included serving as the Environmental Center’s Leadership Program leader, volunteering at the University’s Ogier Gardens and heading the Environmental Student Coalition. Through the award-winning “Preserve Ambassadors” project, O’Brien, worked with students, faculty and community partners to incorporate acts of service, education and art at local parks and preserves.
For the last eight months, O’Brien served on the UNF Sustainability Committee, a group appointed by UNF President David Szymanski tasked with advising the president on issues of environmental responsibility and sustainability.
Off campus, the Southside Resident has exemplified the University’s commitment to community service, first as a volunteer with the nonprofit St. Johns Riverkeeper and then, as a First Mate on a River Patrol vessel educating the public about the importance of protecting the waterway. Beyond the river, the award winner’s environmental advocacy extends to organizations such as the Florida Shorebird Alliance, Timucuan Parks Foundation and the Florida Master Naturalist Program. With plans to apply to master’s degree programs in the field of ecology, O’Brien credits UNF for opportunities to apply knowledge and skills to real-world issues as the best preparation for a career of service to our shared environment.
Julia Myron, a native of Lagos, Nigeria, currently serves as the founder of The Myron Center for Human Rights. In partnership with the Jacksonville youth crisis center, the Myron Center advocates for a rehabilitative juvenile justice system, mentors “at-risk” youths and provides them with opportunities to engage in community service, leadership and professional development.
Previously, she worked with Amnesty International Houston and Lagos, and was a board fellow at the World Affairs Council of Jacksonville. Myron hopes to expand her initiative to Lagos and other developing nations where there’s a need for juvenile system reform and youth empowerment.
At UNF, Myron used her positions as a sponsored undergraduate fellow and an Osprey community ambassador to create awareness and advocate reform in the criminal justice sector; her research led to a presentation at the inaugural UNF International Research Symposium. Myron aspires to be an international human rights lawyer, and after a gap year working to reform the juvenile justice system, she’ll continue her education at the University of East London School of Law in England.
The ceremony for the College of Computing, Engineering and Construction and the ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences will take place at 10 a.m. The ceremony for the College of Education and Human Services, the Coggin College of Business and the Brooks College of Health will take place at 2 p.m.
The University expects to award a total of 717 bachelor’s degrees, 181 master’s degrees and 34 doctorates this term. Including the summer 2019 graduates, UNF has issued a total of 79,663 bachelor’s degrees, 19,713 master’s degrees and 798 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.