gua: Student, business receive awards
Published: Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 3:12 p.m.
Gainesville native Carla McKnight has been inducted into the Order of Pegasus, the highest honor bestowed on a student at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.
Carla, 23, is one of four graduate students inducted into the order, which includes an awards ceremony, a medallion, lifetime membership to the alumni association, her picture displayed in the student union and a luncheon with the UCF Board of Trustees.
Carla, one of two children of John and Phyllis McKnight, will be graduating in May with a master's degree in education leadership with an emphasis on higher education and policy studies. Then, she will get in high gear and start searching for a job in college administration.
Carla said members of the Order of Pegasus have to be nominated by a UCF dean, provost or vice president, and then they go through an application process that includes an interview. Carla was nominated by Dr. Mary Beth Ehasz, the UCF vice president of student affairs.
"Carla is the epitome of an articulate, bright, energetic future leader and I am so pleased to honor her Order of Pegasus success," said Dr. Ehasz, in an e-mail. "The Order of Pegasus is the highest honor the university gives to students.
"It recognizes graduating seniors and graduate students who have demonstrated exemplary involvement, leadership, academic achievement and community service," Dr. Ehasz said.
Carla, who holds a 4.0 grade point average at UCF, said the criteria for membership in the Order of Pegasus includes a student's academic achievement, professional and community service, leadership within the college or outside, and publications or research.
When asked what's the secret of her academic success, Carla credits God and a lot of hard work.
"My parents instilled in me the rewards of hard work," Carla said. "Hard work and working passionately. It's easy to work hard when you find something you're passionate about."
Phyllis McKnight said her daughter is responsible, motivated, compassionate, disciplined and well-rounded.
"There are not enough adjectives to describe her," Phyllis McKnight said. "Everything you could want in a child, that's who Carla is."
John McKnight said Carla does her best at everything she does.
"Carla displays that rare gift of intellect and unwavering discipline," John McKnight said. "She does her absolute best effort at everything she does. Whatever she does, she goes all out. I'm very proud of her."
Carla attended P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School from kindergarten through 12th grade.
She received an associate's degree in business administration from Santa Fe College and a bachelor's in business administration from UCF.
Carla's honors and accomplishments are many, including being the first person in Alachua County to receive the Florida State Association of Supervisor of Elections Scholarship. She received $1,200 in 2008.
Although she's proud of all of the honors bestowed upon her, Carla said being named to the Santa Fe College Hall of Fame had the biggest impact for her.
"That was my first honor at a collegiate level," Carla said. "It was big because it set the stage and proved to me I could succeed beyond high school."
Carla's community service activities include mentoring minority female students and helping to coordinate activities for a mentoring program at Valencia Community College in Orlando.
At UCF, Carla works as an assistant in the school's housing department to help assist and formulate educational and social programs for a community of 800 students living on campus. She also supervises 17 students who serve as resident advisers. Carla said it's been rewarding watching freshmen who are living away from home for the first time grow from being scared and timid into confident students.
"Seeing the growth that I have assisted, it's better than any award I have received."
North Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center, located in east Gainesville, received the "Inspiring Hope Award" for community involvement earlier this month from United Way of North Central Florida. The facility was one of five businessess receiving the award.
At NFETC, employees raised over $20,000 for United Way through employee donations and leadership gifts. Mitch Coulton, the campaign coordinator, spearheaded a book drive and the sale of Harvest Leaves to fellow workers. There also was a thank you dinner/breakfast held for donors.
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