College of Sciences Celebrates Scholarships

On Oct. 12, 2017, the College of Sciences celebrated scholarship recipients and donors at the annual Scholarship Luncheon at the Live Oak Event Center. The luncheon serves as a place for students to meet the donors that make their scholarships possible, and for the donors, a chance to see how their scholarships make a difference. This year over $88,000 was awarded to 42 students.

Dean Michael Johnson began the afternoon by providing highlights from the 11 departments. A few of his remarks included:

  • The Statistics Department is preparing to launch a Big Data Ph.D. program in Fall 2018–the only program of its kind in the state of Florida.
  • The Political Science Department’s Lou Frey Institute is recognized as one of the national models for civics education by the Former Members of Congress.
  • UCF RESTORES within the UCF Psychology Department – established to treat stress disorders including PTSD – has been an important resource for the UCF and Orlando community. Of the first 100, 66 percent of the patients no longer had PTSD after the three-week treatment, and six months later, only one patient had relapsed into a state of PTSD.

Student speaker and scholarship recipient, Shelly Gaynor

Shelly Gaynor, an undergraduate biology student, shared her story of how her scholarship from the Winter Park Garden Club made a difference in her academic career. Gaynor began research as a freshman, which has solidified her choice to go beyond a bachelor’s degree and work toward her Ph.D. in evolutionary biology and botany.

“Through the scholarship I was awarded, I am able to continue to focus on my research, graduate school applications, and extracurricular activities,” Gaynor said. “The funding provided through donors and UCF has allowed me to focus on learning rather than needing to work a job unrelated to my studies.  These scholarships have enabled me to participate in an array of opportunities at UCF.”

Gaynor introduced donor Sonja Nicholson, who provided the students with inspiration. Nicholson, and her husband Tony, are prominent philanthropists for UCF. She urged students to find their passion.

Donor speaker, Sonja Nicholson


“We all have magical strength inside of us,” she said. “Find out who you are, what you’re passionate about and what you’re going to do. Write down your mission and don’t be afraid of change.”

Associate Dean and Interim Vice Provost for Faculty Excellence, Jana Jasinski, Ph.D., then acknowledged each scholarship recipient and donor by name. They were called to the front to take photos. Dean Johnson then gave his closing remarks.

“By now you have all had the chance to get to know each other a little better. Our donors have seen their wise investment and our students have been inspired by your generosity,” he said. “I want to thank you for making this an afternoon to remember.”

Find out how you can make a difference in a student’s life.

See a full photo gallery here.

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