Excellence in Civic Engagement Awardees
Congratulations to our stole recipients for the Excellence in Civic Engagement award!
These students exceeded 200/400 hours of service-learning with a combined total of 20,012 hours of service in the SWFL community!
Spring 2023Toggle More Info
Emily is a Marketing major who has always had a passion to help others both on and off campus. On campus, Emily used her voice to improve student services as a Student Government Senator for the College of Business and a member of the Special Allocations Committee, a committee member of the Programming Board, and a representative on the Junior Panhellenic Board. Off-campus, in her Honors course Emily created and edited online media to promote Lover’s Key State Park about its amenities for their visitors. She served others through the Multicultural and Leadership Center by participating in their Alternative Break program in Boston as well as her church’s Real Break program in Texas. Emily demonstrated her enthusiastic personality and leadership skills to make a positive impact on others in a diversified team setting. In addition, she has led fundraisers for the Abuse Counseling and Treatment Center of Ft. Myers through Alpha Chi Omega to support services and necessities that the women needed during their difficult times. During the pandemic, she remotely tutored students with disabilities in Algebra from her former middle school. Emily will continue to make her passion for community service a priority in her life. Post-graduation, Emily plans to begin her master’s degree in Business Administration at FGCU in the Fall. She is currently seeking a job in the marketing field.
In her four years at FGCU, Kayla has had the opportunity to volunteer in multiple departments on campus and help with local community partners. She started serving as a tutor for student athletes and then transitioned to water quality research and environmental education. On campus, she served with the Athletics Department, Physical Plant, the Vester Field Station, and the Environmental Health and Safety Office. Off campus, she helped a native plant garden, Everglades Wonder Gardens, Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve, and Rookery Bay NERR. Through service, she was able to form connections with each of these organizations and further her education and career. After graduation, Kayla plans to stay at FGCU to pursue her master’s degree in Environmental Science, continuing her research at the Water School and the Vester Field Station to focus on water quality issues in Southwest Florida.
From the ages 9 to 13, Courtney was a camper at the Florida Elks Youth Camp, a summer camp supported by the Florida State Elks Association consisting of a 405-acre complex to provide campers with a unique experience for seven weeks each summer. As a Counselor-In-Training, Courtney was assigned to a cabin with new campers each Sunday over the summer. During her time, she would oversee her seven campers and interact with all of the campers and staff on the property during the day. As a camper, the experience changed her life in ways she never could have imagined. Courtney's volunteer work consisted of creating game schedules to keep the campers entertained throughout the day, guiding them on how to interact with others and show respect for the world around them. She was able to create friendships and lasting bonds with her campers and coworkers, which she is still in contact with today. Courtney plans to continue her passion for helping others and creating safe spaces by pursuing a career in law enforcement and becoming an individual in the field in which victims feel they have a safe space. She also plans to continue to work to make her community a safer place for all its residents.
Bradley founded two volunteer organizations while at FGCU. The first, Unlocked Memories, was created with the mission of volunteering, fundraising, and advocating for the Alzheimer’s and dementia community in SWFL. Unlocked Memories has introduced many FGCU volunteers to local memory care facilities, which has led to intergenerational experiences that have become invaluable to both residents and students. Unlocked Memories has raised over $15,000 from fundraising that has gone directly to this population through new technology, necessities for these facilities, and gifts for the residents. The second organization, Rebuild SWFL, was started as a response to Hurricane Ian. After witnessing the devastation caused by this disaster, Bradley, along with a few friends, decided to take the initiative to help those in need. From a booming social media presence to having hundreds of weekly volunteers, Rebuild SWFL operated as a means to clear debris in the homes of people who were in most need. Over the past five months, volunteers have traveled from all over the nation to help out in any way possible. Through service, Bradley has been able to grow as a civically engaged leader in his community. After graduation, Bradley will be taking the LSAT and then going to law school.
Bridgette is a Psychology major with a concentration in Neuroscience & Cognition and a minor in Entrepreneurship. She obtained the majority of her service-learning hours working with the Fort Myers Beach Kids Foundation, which provides impoverished children and families on Fort Myers Beach with necessary school supplies, basic living expenses, and Christmas gifts which are delivered by the Fort Myers Beach Fire Department on Christmas Eve. Aside from her desire to make an impact in her hometown, Bridgette has a vested interest in mental health advocacy. She has traveled to New Mexico to volunteer for the Zuni Pueblo Native American Tribe, learning about their physical and mental health disparities. In May 2022, she ventured to the jungles of East Panama to provide medical aid to remote villages without accessible resources. She has also been able to work with Kids’ Minds Matter, an organization that works with Golisano Children’s Hospital, which dedicates time and effort to advancing pediatric mental and behavioral health services. After graduating, Brigette plans to attend medical school, initially to pursue Psychiatry or Neurology; however, working as an ER scribe, she has an open mind and will see where the journey takes her.
Dani studied biology with a chemistry minor. Most of her service-learning hours were at the Southwest Florida Horse Rescue, where she was able to give horses who had been neglected or mistreated a better chance at life. She was one of few volunteers who worked with three wild stallions that had no trust in humans for over two years, transforming from not being able to be touched to being trained and loved. Dani has continued to work on her senior research over a year after she completed the required course. She believes that the research she is doing with Dr. Emer on Zebrafish can make an impact on future toxicology studies and potentially a positive impact in healthcare. Dani also volunteered at the Preserve Senior Living during and after Hurricane Ian. She assisted with many different tasks to help not only the staff, but also comforting the residents during a scary time. Dani also volunteered with the American Red Cross helping pass out meals after the hurricane. Service-learning was never about the number of hours for Dani, but rather the impact she could make on others; whether that be people or horses. Following graduation, Dani is working with her research professor, Dr. Emer, over the summer. She has also been accepted into the Fall 2023 Biology Thesis Master’s program at FGCU.
Fall 2022Toggle More Info
Susannah is a Marine Science major with a double minor in Geology and Climate change. She obtained a majority of her service hours teaching and mentoring future generations of science divers, through FGCU’s Scientific Diving Program. Through the four semesters (Spring ‘21, Fall ‘21, Spring ‘22, and Fall ‘22) she has assisted with the class, and she has been a part of the training and certifications of 53 AAUS Scientific Divers. Everything she learned through this class corresponds with her career goals in marine science, combining both scientific research techniques and methods with scuba diving. In addition to the service hours she has done with FGCU’s scientific diving program, she has also partnered with 11 other organizations, most notably the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Naples. Here, she volunteered in their Environmental Learning Center and on their fisheries team. Volunteering with Pat O’Donnell, Rookery Bay’s Fisheries Biologist, she was able to assist with his ongoing shark tagging research that sampled monthly. This experience inspired her to pursue a master’s thesis in shark ecotoxicology. Susannah was able to expand her skillset outside of the classroom and become more in tune with what is going on in her local community.
Samantha Romero is a journalism major and an interdisciplinary studies minor at FGCU. Samantha began her service-learning experience at Eagle Media as a news director in its TV program, where she was promoted to the director of Eagle News TV her sophomore year. Samantha later served as a student reporter for WGCU Public media. As an immigrant, Venezuelan-American student, Samantha felt called to use her talents to inform the Hispanic/Latinocommunity in Immokalee, Florida. Samantha’s stories have been aired on Southwest Florida radio stations like Radio Conciencia and WGCU. She also volunteers at St. John XXIII Catholic Church as a video minister to stream masses to the sick and homebound, and served this past year as the creative director for The Music Forest, a student-led program at FGCU that raises awareness of Hispanic culture in traditional music and its roots, while providing music lessons. Samantha will pursue her calling in news and her experience has left her inspired to serve others. She is motivated to continue being civically engaged as she transitions out of FGCU into the community.
Spring 2022Toggle More Info
Holli is a first-generation college student who studied psychology and will be entering the world of higher education. She found her passion for quality education within student affairs through her service both on and off campus. She served with multiple departments across campus including Prevention and Wellness and the Multicultural and Leadership Development Center, and I was able to use these experiences to gain a connection with Make A Wish Southwest Florida. Through these service experiences, Holli was able to educate students across campus and in the community about health and wellness, cultural competence, and leadership development. Holli has served in many roles such as Assistant Director for Emerging Eagles, President for Omicron Delta Kappa, and a Peer Educator, and all of these roles helped guide her love for service to design a lifetime career of service within the education industry.
Nina Mendes is a journalism major with a double minor in creative writing and interdisciplinary studies. During her freshman year, she began her volunteer experience with FGCU’s independent student-run publication, Eagle News. Nina was a staff writer for two years before being promoted to the News & Features Editor during her junior year. While serving with Eagle News, she discovered Valerie’s House, which is the sole nonprofit in Southwest Florida dedicated to helping children grieve the loss of a parent or sibling. Nina has been volunteering with this organization for the past two years as a member of their Val’s Pals Mentor Program. She mentors a young girl named Addison, who has taught her the impact of giving back to the community. Nina’s volunteer experience has inspired her to continue serving others, and she is dedicated to lifelong service even after she leaves FGCU.
Quinton is a Biology major and has served his community in many capacities both on and off campus. On campus he has worked with Peers Care as a Peer Educator, as letter writer for Students and Seniors, a Student Government Senator for the College or Arts and Sciences, a student representative on the committee to update the Student Code of Conduct, and an Associate Justice with Student Government. Off campus he has worked with Showing Up for Racial Justice as a food sorter and distributor, is founding member of the SWFL coalition for LGBTQ+ Youth that advocated for anti-bullying guidelines in the Lee County Code of Conduct, and as a front desk volunteer at Virginia B. Andes Community Clinic: a free clinic in Port Charlotte. These rich experiences have shaped his time at FGCU and set him on a path to serve his community as an accepting and inclusive family practice doctor, keeping time for the boots on the ground work that always needs to be done.
Kaelyn has been volunteering with Lee Health since May 2019. After working in Gulf Coast Medical Center’s Emergency Department , she soon was provided the opportunity to volunteer at Golisano Children’s Hospital of SWFL as a patient care assistant position at the Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care Unit. Fast forward, she became the Vice President of the Cancer Research Program and wanted to revisit the RSO’s mission, cancer education, advocacy, and research. While focusing on advocacy and with the help of American Cancer Society, her team organized a virtual panel where former patients and families spoke on their journey with cancer. Many patients were treated at Golisano and shared ideas on how to be better advocates for patients with cancer. An idea brought up was completing chalk designs outside the hospital to bring support to patients receiving treatment. After working with her volunteer supervisor, she organized a “Chalkwalk” with CRP students during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month at the hospital’s garden area, a common place patients relax from treatment. This event was so successful, CRP students did it again for the holidays. This is now becoming an annual event in partnership with Golisano Children’s Hospital in the month of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (September).
Rebecca is a first-generation student majoring in Art and minoring in Psychology and Theatre. She completed most of her hours in partnership with Franklin Park Elementary School, where she created the foundations for a tutoring program in collaboration with the Little Eagle tutors, participated in cleaning up their garden during Make A Difference Day, conducted tutoring sessions the following semester, and in her final semester she began a theatre club with her peers in the Applied Theatre class. During the summer, she volunteered at the Center for the Arts in Bonita Springs, where she became a teacher’s aid and helped the students complete their activities. She enjoyed serving her community, and after experiencing all of these little pieces of happiness, she realized just how important volunteer work is. Even if it is just a couple of hours one day a week, it is a lifetime of change for someone else. She realized that kids are dreamers and have so much optimism when it comes to life, and she wants to help them express that through art.
Carli Valentino has always had a passion working in the nonprofit community since she was a little girl. At her first years at FGCU she volunteered for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Naples Zoo and Caribbean Gardens, Naples Alliance, and an internship with Freedom Waters Foundation. Providing over 60 therapeutic trips on the water for families with critically ill or disabled children, and veterans during her internship at FWF. She continued her volunteering experience while at home for USSA fundraising over 75 trips for critically ill or disabled youth and veterans on fishing and hunting experiences as their dream wish. Lastly, she spent her senior year as a teaching assistant for 5 courses over the 2 semesters as an internship and for service-learning hours. As a TA, she brought in nonprofit organizations like Freedom Waters Foundation, Naples Zoo and Caribbean Gardens, Golisano Children’s Hospital, and Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples as clients for the Public Relations Campaign Capstone course to encourage students to create meaningful campaigns for their final projects. After grad school, she plans to become a teacher so that she can continue to inspire students to volunteer in the community.
Fall 2021Toggle More Info
Sophia is a Communication major with a concentration in Public Relations and double minors in Marketing and Interdisciplinary Studies. The start of Sophia's empowerment began with her involvement in the Multicultural & Leadership Development Center. She has worked diligently to present topics on leadership skills, self-knowledge, diversity and inclusion. Her journey at FGCU includes Emerging Eagles Mentor, Teacher’s Assistant for Elementary Calculus, Course Assistant for The Contemplative Life, Course Assistant for the Humanities League and a Lead Team Member. Through these experiences, she has impacted students through recognizing their resiliency and inner strength. In addition, Sophia has volunteered at the FGCU Food Forest, The Wonder Gardens, and The Freedom Waters Foundation. From mentoring students on campus, connecting with caregivers in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, and partnering up with other nonprofits she has learned even in the midst of the unknown, and all the things she may not understand, that she can rest on the present moment. She believes that there is always something to be grateful for. The course of her service is not over. She is still learning, growing and always will be. Serving is growth and growth is forever.
Spring 2021Toggle More Info
Seeka Agama is a nursing major who not only loves to serve, but lives to do so. She has served both locally and abroad with the Dominican Republic Outreach Program (D.R.O.P.), Alternative Winter Break Trip to Puerto Rico, and in many other capacities as a mentor. Seeka believes that service is not all about the impact you are able to make on others, but about the impact they are able to make on you and the relationships you develop while doing so. She has learned so many lessons and has never missed a moment of sharing her experiences with others in order to also encourage them to foster a sense of civic responsibility. Seeka is committed to service and devoted to lifelong learning. She is so thankful to FGCU for giving her the platform to be able to do so. After graduation, she plans to apply all of the knowledge, compassion, and skills she has learned through serving, in her career as a pediatric nurse. Seeka stated, “I now know what it means to serve with passion and purpose, and for years to come, I will never stop doing so!”
Nicole is an Integrated Studies major who will be graduating with over 2,000 service hours. Most of her hours came from working as a student manager for the FGCU women’s basketball team. After combining her genuine love for the game of basketball and her desire to help the local community, she was able to serve along a championship team for 4 straight years. Nicole also started a non-profit her senior year as an element of her Honors Foundations of Civic Engagement course. She was able to create an organization that served as the connection between families in need and donor families and was successful in helping over 180 individuals in our local area. Nicole hopes that future students see that their service should not only help the community, but that it should help them learn and grow as an individual and as a proud Eagle.
Alexis is an Elementary Education major who looks forward to teaching the young minds of our future. Alexis has worked with several child-center organizations, focusing on raising money for medically ill children and expressing the importance of giving them the chance to feel like a kid. Alexis assisted the organization Give Kids the World, providing hospitalized children and their families the opportunity to experience and enjoy a Make A Wish Foundation and Walt Disney World partnered vacation. Alexis devoted all four years of her college experience with the university’s Dance Marathon; from solely dancing to taking the position of Morale Captain, to later becoming Head-Morale Captain. Raising thousands of dollars over her four years, Alexis served with the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital organization – this year raising money for our local Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. In addition, Alexis also devoted all four years to volunteering with our Athletics Marketing Team at our sporting events. Alexis looks forward to continuing to serve in these areas of excellence and hopes to pursue a career in Patient Academic Services, where she will educate children who have been admitted into the hospital, as well as any sibling(s) that may require her services.
Allyne is a Legal Studies major, full-time paralegal, full-time mom, President of her neighborhood association, Guardian ad Litem, and volunteer paralegal for her local Bar association. Allyne feels that giving back to the community around her is a lifetime requirement and necessary for her to maintain a sense of completeness. While at FGCU she completed more than 700 hours of it. The majority of her volunteer work involved representation of children for the Guardian ad Litem program where she advocated in Court on behalf of the best interests of 17 different children over a 3 year period. She also worked on pro bono family law cases and focused on healing families. Allyne’s life has been enriched by the children she has helped and she plans to continue as a Guardian ad Litem and pro bono paralegal for the rest of her life.
Fall 2020Toggle More Info
Biology and Psychology
Estelle studied Biology and Psychology, and apart from STEM was actively involved in music at FGCU and in the community. Through her involvement in several community choirs, she learned that the existence of music and the arts has the power to deeply connect a community, transcending all differences. Estelle has also volunteered with the New Horizons of SWFL, an organization special to her because it values the importance of giving time to youth in the community. Here she volunteered to empower students through academic guidance for those who may not receive that in school or at home. While she taught the students topics in math and science, they taught her the value of people, of community, and the long-lasting impact people can have on one another. Estelle vows to continue sharing her passions with the community and to work to make a positive impact on the lives of her community neighbors.”
Daniel majored in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. After graduation he hopes to go to medical school and fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor! For as long as he can remember he has always been interested in helping and giving back to the community. Since he has been at FGCU, he has strived to give back to the community in as many ways as possible. From being a freshman and becoming a founding father of a leadership fraternity on campus, to helping in the collection of unrecyclable plastics to make eco-bricks in order to build sustainable furniture for our FGCU Food Forest. But most recently he has been shadowing different doctors in hopes of one day being one and coaching a local U19 Soccer Showcase team.
Summer 2020Toggle More Info
As a Music Therapy major, Chelsea partnered with Thrive Community Church to bring love, joy, and impact to the SWFL region. She played the piano in church every Sunday during her time at FGCU and became a mentor for young students coming into the university. Chelsea also spent time with the elderly, playing guitar and singing to those in assisted and independent living facilities, hospice, nursing homes, and even private homes. Chelsea helped target and solve social issues with an enthusiastic and positive attitude. She attributes her accomplishments to the outstanding Office of Service-Learning for encouraging her to partner and serve with a local agency in need. Chelsea firmly believes that serving with Thrive over the course of her time at FGCU changed her life for the better and she looks forward to continuing to serve in the future wherever she goes next.
Spring 2020Toggle More Info
When Natalie, a Public Health major, aged out of the traditional camp program she began serving as a counselor at the camp that meant so much to her, Camp Boggy Creek. Natalie served over 1,000 hours working with the teens on leadership skills, team work, and self-confidence. She encouraged her campers to love themselves and to never let anyone stop them from being who they are.
Forensic Science and Forensic Studies
Karla, a first-generation Cuban-American double majored in Forensic Science and Forensic Studies. She has served locally and abroad. "Reflecting back on the many communities I have served, the lessons learned from each, and the stories of all whom I’ve encountered throughout my years has helped me realize that I will never stop serving others, no matter what the capacity may be."
Evelyn, also known as Eve, is a first-generation student who believes she has exceeded the expectations that society has placed on her. She is a Criminal Justice major with a minor in Spanish. Eve feels that commitment to service and civic engagement are done by giving love and sacrifice to one's community. She promises she will continue to serve long into the future.
Luisa is a Biology major who first got involved with service through an Honors Foundations of Civic Engagement course. From there Luisa took initiative and founded Project Ciclovia where she led a group of students in serving the Immokalee community by providing free medical services for the adults and educational games for the children. She hopes that other students follow in her footsteps and uplift their own communities through service.
Rachel is a Biology major who took the reins of Be-A-Buddy, a program aimed at connecting the special needs community with the local SWFL community by bringing special needs students from a local high school on field trips each semester. Be-A-Buddy soon became more than just field trips; it became about connection, growth, and meaningful community engagement. “Be-A-Buddy is about love, kindness, having fun, and creating lifelong friendships with people no matter how different they are from you.”
Stephen is a Psychology major and through his commitment to service and civic engagement, has assisted Habitat for Humanity, Special Equestrians, and Naples Community Hospital. Stephen has worked to help combat unequal housing, help to provide affordable treatment options for disabled children, and has confronted healthcare and sustainability issues within the community. His commitment to service and lifelong learning have guided him to his future career path in pediatric neurology.