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David Habib grins from ear to ear when he talks about Molly Oloyi, the namesake of his nonprofit organization, Molly’s Beads.

UF dual-degree junior Habib, 21, received a 2014 Newman Civic Fellows Award for his work with Molly’s Beads and his involvement and dedication to service at UF and abroad.

Habib was one of 197 people selected to receive the award, given to college students who make a difference in others’ lives.

Habib said his parents raised him to “have a basic awareness that many people aren’t as privileged as we are here in America.”

“It started with that basic awareness when I was young,” he said. “It wasn’t until I stepped out of my comfort zone and went on an airplane with people I didn’t know to Africa, where I really felt my calling to service.”

On a medical mission trip in 2010, Habib met Molly Oloyi, a woman who made jewelry out of recycled magazine paper to pay for her HIV medicine.

Oloyi was, according to Habib, a “mother to all” who translated for the mission group, sewed, crafted and educated local children.

“I immediately felt a connection with her,” Habib said.

After leaving Uganda, Habib received an email from Oloyi asking him to sell her beads in America, followed by a shipment of 270 pieces of handmade jewelry.

Habib created a nonprofit organization to sell the jewelry, which he called Molly’s Beads.

The following year’s shipment contained 1,300 beaded pieces of jewelry, which Molly’s Beads sold, earning $11,000 for Oloyi and her community.

Habib’s mark has extended to the Gainesville community as well, where he worked with the One Campaign against world poverty as well as the Ronald McDonald House.

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Nicole Matuska, a 21-year-old University of North Florida marketing junior, is Habib’s close friend and co-founder of Molly’s Beads. She said Habib’s character is apparent in his interactions with others.

“David has always been one to put others first, which is awesome, but he’s also one that brings out the best in other people,” Matuska said. “He inspires others to be the best that they can be.”

[A version of this story ran on page 5 on 4/2/2014 under the headline "UF student wins award for service abroad, bead sales"]

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