The Hidden Gem

Andy Moser, Features Editor

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This article was originally published in the Fall 2018 “Culture of UNF Issue”. 

Culture is everywhere. In a sense, culture is everything. It’s in our attitudes, our media, our art, even in our day-to-day interactions with people. There are a number of different cultures belonging to different groups of people. One that unites us all, however, is Osprey culture. We are all a part of UNF, and there are trends within that culture just as there are in any other. Patterns exist pertaining to how we got here and how we feel about this uniquely sized university that we currently call home.

Some have labeled UNF as a “commuter school,” meaning it is largely populated by students and staff who live in the Jacksonville area and, therefore, can drive to work/class. This rings true for Joe McKinney, a senior majoring in communication.

“I’m at UNF because I’m from Jacksonville, so it’s convenient for me to go here,” McKinney said.

Another student, Gabrielle Coker, a senior mathematics major, also lives in the area and noted UNF’s convenient location.

“Jacksonville is actually my hometown, and it was kind of a convenient option because I got to stay at home,” Coker said.

Many students are able to save money on rent by living at home and driving to school, and opportunities to save money, for college students, are opportunities not taken lightly.

According to students, UNF has more to offer than mere convenience. The University has a small enough population to allow for smaller class sizes and more one-on-one opportunities with professors, both of which greatly benefit the student.

“I found that as I’ve gotten into my higher-level classes, it’s been nice that my class size has been really small,” Coker told Spinnaker. “I’ve been able to develop good relationships with my professors, which helps a lot, and there’s been a lot of research opportunities in my degree.”

Beyond geographical convenience and chances for one-on-one instruction, students also commented on how the size of the campus played a role in their decision to commit to the University. UNF is distinctively sized in the sense that it’s much smaller than some of the larger universities in Florida (UF and FSU, for example), but still significantly bigger than a community college or two-year school. This puts UNF in prime position to be the place to go for students who don’t like the idea of an enormous and busy university but still want to have “the college experience.”

“I really like it honestly,” Sydney Eallonardo, a senior nursing major said. “I wasn’t sure because my high school was definitely on the bigger side so I was thinking ‘bigger school,’ but I come from right outside UCF, and that’s way larger than UNF is. But when I came here, like, you get way more opportunities because things are smaller. But since it is also mid-range, there are things that you get to do that bigger schools also have, so it is definitely a perfect middle plane.”

The fact that UNF is embedded within a nature preserve adds the cherry on top for some students.

“I’ve been on the University of Florida’s campus, I’ve been on FSU’s campus, and I like that the University of North Florida is kind of secluded,” McKinney said. “It’s surrounded by trees, so you don’t have a busy-ness surrounding it. So, to me, it’s more of a quiet campus. I appreciate that.”

While the qualities noted here are surely not all-encompassing, they speak to the idea that simply being an Osprey likely means you have a lot in common with many other Ospreys, regardless of the various other subcultures we belong to.

No matter your major, age or club association, we’re all UNF students. That alone binds our community together and creates its own identity. You don’t have to be a member of a club or organization to be part of a group. You’re an Osprey, and an important member of the community.

The UNF student identity is a culture in and of itself, and students, by and large, are proud to be here. Standing quietly and peacefully amongst educational giants, perhaps UNF truly is the hidden gem of the Florida college world.

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