Patricia “Patti” MacKown, director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities at the University of Central Florida, received a national award for her service to the legal community and her commitment to social justice, and equality.

During a summer conference in Baltimore, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association’s Student Legal Services Section presented MacKown with the Elizabeth Berg Streeter Community Service Award.

She is the first non-lawyer to receive this prestigious award in the history of the conference.

“I was very surprised and humbled by this, as I knew Ms. Streeter and don’t begin to compare to her,” said MacKown. “I was speechless, which for me says a whole lot.”

The national conference provides the student legal services community an opportunity to share stories and discuss the issues they face while working on student legal matters.

As an active participant and presenter at the annual conferences, MacKown has shared her unique insights regarding the student disciplinary process.

MacKown began the Student Legal Services program at UCF in 1979 after graduating from the university’s charter class and serving in the Peace Corps. She also earned a master’s degree in Political Science from UCF in 1982.

Her job is unique compared with most professional positions in the Student Legal Services community. In addition to serving as director of Student Legal Services, she also leads the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities and is an assistant vice president in the Student Development and Enrollment Services division.

“Patti has dedicated more than 30 years to educating our students and helping them resolve disputes,” said Maribeth Ehasz, the division’s vice president. “She cares deeply about our students’ well-being, and her wit and wisdom have earned her the respect and admiration of so many colleagues.”

MacKown has served as a guardian ad litem for Brevard County since 1984 helping abused, neglected and abandoned children have a voice in court. She is also the Southeastern District Chair for the National Legal Aid Defender Association/Student Legal Services Section.