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UNT senior awarded for leadership, service

Jordan HolleyJordan Holley’s Introduction to Social Work class changed his life. And now the social work major and graduating senior has been changing the lives of others ever since, both as an advocate for disenfranchised populations and as a leader for fellow social workers.

UNT’s Social Work program, based in the College of Public Affairs and Community Service, recently recognized Holley, above, for his contributions by awarding him with a Fannie Belle Gaupp Outstanding Student Award at UNT Honors Day, an annual event that honors the most accomplished of students, faculty and staff, and at the end-of-the-year banquet for the Department of Community and Professional Programs. Holley will receive his bachelor of social work degree on May 10.

He is among more than 4,000 students will receive degrees this spring. Commencement ceremonies are set for May 9 and 10 in the Coliseum.

Ceremonies are:

3 p.m. May 9 — doctoral and master’s candidates

7 p.m. May 9 undergraduates from:

  • College of Education
  • College of Business

9 a.m. May 10 undergraduates from:

  • College of Arts and Sciences

1 p.m. May 10 — undergraduates from:

  • College of Visual Arts and Design
  • Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism
  • College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism
  • College of Music
  • College of Information

5 p.m. May 10 undergraduates from:

  • College of Engineering
  • College of Public Affairs and Community Service

Graduates and their guests are invited to commencement receptions from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. May 9 and from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 10. Both receptions will be held in the Gateway Center Ballroom.

Holley said his teachers have inspired him to live in the present and be compassionate and competent in all areas of his life.

“If you put your heart and mind into your passion, anything and everything is possible,” he said. “I get so much energy from encouraging others in life.”

During his four years at UNT, Holley has worked as a crisis intervention specialist with Denton County Friends of the Family, a domestic violence and sexual assault shelter; served as student representative and national board member for the National Association of Social Workers; as vice president of the UNT Social Work Student Association and  as president of Phi Alpha Honor Society for Social Work, and produced two graduate career fairs for social work students at UNT and Texas Woman’s University.

"Jordan has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the field of social work,” said Brenda Sweeten, lecturer and social work field director in UNT’s social work program. “What sets him apart is that he is always encouraging to peers, and he stands as an excellent example of what service to others and the community is all about."  

Holley travels to Washington, D.C. every other month to participate as the only undergraduate student representative on the board of directors of the National Association of Social Workers, the world’s largest membership organization of professional social workers.

At the Denton County Friends of the Family, he works on a 24/7 crisis hotline for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, and screens eligible clients into the shelter.

“Working with these survivors has opened my eyes to the intense struggle that I didn't even know existed in my community,” he said.

UNT’s social work program sponsors an annual graduate and career fair thanks to Holley’s foresight and initiative. Holley said he created the event so that seniors of social work could meet prospective employers and representatives from Texas universities that offer master’s degree programs in social work. Now in its second year, the fair attracts more than 100 students from both UNT and Texas Woman’s University. Approximately 20 schools and social work organizations participated in this year’s fair.

Holley will pursue a master’s degree in social work at Texas Christian University.

Holley hopes to eventually open a shelter for LGBTQ youth (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer, or Questioning) and teach them “how to break free from society's stigma and stereotypes.” He has previously advocated for LGBTQ rights by volunteering with local, state and national organizations like the Dallas Black Tie Fundraisers, Equality Texas, and the Human Rights Campaign. 

UNT has encouraged community engagement among its faculty, staff and students. In December, UNT introduced a community engagement cord for graduates who had given 100 hours of volunteer service during their college careers. Transfer and graduate students needed 50 hours.

At this commencement, 435 students earned the cord. Those students reported a combined 129,000 hours of volunteer service with an estimated value of $2.9 million.

—Julie West, University Relations, Communications and Marketing and Natalie Caballero, student assistant, News Promotions

(Photo by Julie West / URCM)

Posted on: Mon 05 May 2014

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