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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Community advocacy program offers scholarships to participating students

Students living off campus this year can earn a ,200 book scholarship while learning how to be a "Great Gator Neighbor."

The goal of the Community Advocates Program, which offers the scholarship, is to educate students on topics such as city codes, emergency preparedness and crime prevention.

The 3-year-old project will only accept 25 applicants. The deadline is Sept. 7.

The ,200 scholarship will be awarded to students who complete the program.

Nora Kilroy, one of the founders of the program and the UF director of off-campus life, said, "We really wanted to recognize them for giving back to the community."

The Gainesville and University Police Departments, Sante Fe Community College and UF are involved in the program, Kilroy said.

It is SFCC's first year of involvement with the program.

Kari Mattox, an SFCC student-development specialist, said SFCC's participation would open up more resources, ideas and collaborative effort between the two schools.

Kilroy said the program starts weekly classes on Sept. 19 and ends Nov. 7. They last from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

GPD Cpl. Jaime Kurnick will talk about safety tips and services GPD offers for students.

"It's not just about us responding to crimes," Kurnick said. "It's about crime prevention."

Other topics include alcohol and the community, sexual predator awareness, city codes, community service, and civic engagement.

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Students considered the DUI presentation the most interesting class in the past, Kurnick said. It gave students a chance to experience model inebriation in a controlled setting.

Throughout the program, students will work on a crime watch or safety program, and they will implement those programs in their neighborhood, Kilroy said.

"Every week we'll give them a little bit more guidance and a little bit more support on how to create that," she said.

Mattox said each class is held in a different location around Gainesville. Tours of the fire station and city hall will be included in the program.

UF and SFCC students are accepted into the program through an application process.

After filling in their basic information, applicants are required to write a 200-word essay on why they want to become community advocates.

Kilroy said 50 students applied last year, and 12 students finished the program.

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