A University of Central Florida student who has volunteered more than 600 hours to the community and who started his own program to tutor local kids in math has been honored for effecting positive change in the community.
Heardley Murdock, a student in the Burnett Honors College, was recently honored with a Newman Civic Fellows Award for his commitment to finding solutions to challenges facing his communities. He was among the less than 200 students in the country to receive the award, which is sponsored by the KPMG Foundation.
“I am honored to receive this distinction. The other Newman Civic Fellows are very accomplished, passionate individuals effecting change in their communities, and I look forward to interacting with them,” said Murdock, who will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and microbiology.
Murdock was nominated for the award by UCF President John C. Hitt, and he worked with the Honors College’s Office of Prestigious Awards to complete his application.
During his sophomore and junior years, Murdock participated in the Burnett Community Scholars program, a partnership between the honors college, AmeriCorps and Campus Compact. He volunteered 600 hours at Jackson Middle School in Orlando through AVID, and while he was there realized that students needed greater assistance with their math courses.
That inspired Murdock to found the Jackson Underserved Math Program, or JUMP, in 2012.
The program took off with the honors college, and since its inception, has had more than five student volunteers each semester. Murdock serves as the program’s civic intern, recruiting volunteers and assisting in the management of the program.
“I hope that the program will expand to impact more middle school students,” said Murdock. “The need is great, and college students have the potential to serve as more than tutors– they can be mentors and role models for these kids.”
Murdock has volunteered as an on-campus tutor and has donated his time to the MD Anderson Cancer Center of Orlando’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, the Healing Arts program at the Orlando Regional Medical Center, and Shepherd’s Hope clinic for the uninsured and underinsured.
Murdock also conducts biomedical research with Associate Professor William Self and recently won first place in the Life Sciences II category at the UCF Showcase of Undergraduate Research. He also was honored as College of Medicine’s student winner at this year’s annual Founders’ Day awards ceremony.
After graduation, Murdock will pursue a one-year research position in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. Then, it’s off to medical school.
“My volunteer activities have directed me toward a career that allows me to combine my love of science with community involvement. The satisfaction of working with underserved populations inspires me to continue to volunteer as a future medical student and physician,” said Murdock.