Anthropology alumnus awarded for altruism

An act of altruism earned a Knight alumnus token of high honor from the UCF Police Department on Jan. 20.

On January 19, anthropology graduate Matt Newton noticed an abandoned wallet and cell phone in the downstairs men’s restroom of Howard Phillips Hall. Newton said he glanced around for the owner but didn’t see anyone.

To Newton’s surprise, the wallet contained more than $200 and several debit cards. Instead of going on a shopping spree, he turned it over to the UCF police.

Newton was awarded a UCF challenge coin, a token rewarded to those who perform an honorable act.

“It’s very rare for someone to turn in a wallet with such a large sum of money,” said community relations supervisor Sgt. Troy Williamson. “We reward members of the community or students who do something courageous like help save somebody’s life or help solve crimes and step up to do the right thing. Matt definitely fits into that category.”

Williamson said that as soon as they received the wallet and realized the significant value it held, they contacted the panicked owner.

John-Jay Mamalastas, an environmental engineering junior, said it took him about four hours to realize his possessions were missing and assumed the worst. After visiting the Library’s lost and found, he was directed to the Police/Public Safety Building to claim his items. Mamalastas also received a Facebook message from Newton, alerting him to check campus for his Samsung phone and wallet.

“I really did not think someone would turn it all in,” said Mamalastas.

Major David Zambri, also a UCF alumnus, presented Newton with the coin in the front lobby of the Police/Public Safety Building.

“Sometimes you only hear about the negative things that students are up to so it’s important to recognize the good they do too,” said Zambri.

Corporal James Roop started the challenge coin tradition three years ago.

The article originally ran in the Central Florida Future. It can be viewed by clicking here.

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