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FGCU student honored at state level for service learning

An FGCU student is being recognized on a statewide level for her involvement in service learning.

Noelle Stone, a junior legal studies major, will be awarded the Florida Campus Compact Student Excellence in Service award at the Florida Campus Compact Awards Gala in Tampa on Nov. 17.

Stone, along with two other recipients, will receive the student excellence award out of all applicants from every university in the state of Florida.

What sets Stone apart from her competition is that as of fall 2016, she has completed over 450 hours of service, a venture very few college students can attest to.

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Noelle Stone Service Learning
(From left to right) Sydney Parsons, Noelle Stone, Jalisa White and Vernazia Harmon pose during the 2015 Leadership Summit. (Photo courtesy of Noelle Stone)

Stone, who applied for the award in summer 2016, said that it is an honor to be able to represent FGCU.

“I was very surprised that I got it,” Stone said. “I was not expecting it.”

However, those who have worked closely with Stone are not as surprised about her acknowledgement.

“Noelle motivates me everyday to be as successful as she is,” said Sydney Parsons, a fellow junior at FGCU.

Parsons and Stone have worked on numerous service learning projects together since their induction into the Leadership Through Service program their freshman year.

“Noelle is the ultimate multitasker,” Parsons said. “Once she puts her mind to something, she makes sure to get things done.”

Both Parsons and Stone have collaborated on efforts for the FGCU College Reach Out Program and The Quality of Life Center nonprofit, which both offer resources for underprivileged youth. In accordance with service-learning projects, they both co-founded their own registered student organization on campus.

“It’s exciting to watch Noelle find her place in service and go on to make a difference in the world,” Parsons said. “I’m so happy that we were able to have the same values.”

Stone has made service learning a beneficial part of her time at FGCU, but her collective 474 service-learning hours did not happen by chance.

While Stone got her start in the Leadership Through Service program — which is an award-winning, freshmen-based program offering service learning opportunities through various coursework — she has since branched off to find her true passions.

“I started a volunteer relationship with the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce where I helped organize the women’s leadership conference,” Stone said. “With the conference, I really found my niche with women empowerment.”

Currently, Stone interns with the Abuse Counseling and Treatment center. ACT deals with domestic violence cases and helps victims gain a more positive perspective on life.

Working on a weekly basis with the organization, Stone has gained a collective 140 service hours in the fall 2016 semester alone. These efforts with ACT prompted Stone to be recognized for the student excellence award.

“My actual passion is helping others,” Stone said. “I fell in love with the idea of diving deep into a nonprofit service agency and making an impact with them.”

Katharine O’Connor, the coordinator for service learning from FGCU’s Officer of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, said she remembers her initial response to meeting Stone two years ago.

“I was immediately drawn to Noelle because of her demeanor and positive attitude,” O’Connor said. “I knew she had something special because you could see her heart.”

O’Connor, who will also be represented with the Campus Compact Community Engaged Educator award in Tampa, said that Stone’s recognition is a testament to giving back to the community.

“Noelle is extremely dynamic and passionate,” O’Connor said. “Seeing her begin to work with ACT, it’s like she has just transformed into a new level as a person. Her passion is contagious.”

Stone said that with her award she wants to convey the message that the FGCU service-learning hour requirement does not have to be a burden.

“It should be an opportunity to find your passion and find something that you love working toward,” Stone said.

Stone says she hopes to be an advocate for students to make an impact in the community and continue her efforts with ACT and other nonprofits.

“Noelle is a little ball of sunshine that has never stopped shining,” O’Connor said. “She’s only gotten brighter.”

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