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Office of Vice President and Chief of Staff
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Office of Vice President and
Chief of Staff
Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd S.
Fort Myers, FL. 33965-6565

Phone: (239) 590-1006
Fax:     (239) 590-1066

Press Release


Outstanding Graduates Honored with FGCU Alumni of Distinction Society and Soaring Eagles Society Awards

FORT MYERS, FL - Florida Gulf Coast University Alumni Association Board of Directors welcomed one distinguished graduate into the Alumni of Distinction Society, and five graduates into the Soaring Eagles Society at the annual Celebration of Excellence awards ceremony in April.

The Alumni of Distinction Society is the highest honor the association bestows on a deserving graduate. This year, the FGCU Alumni of Distinction Society award was presented to Melissa Simontis, 2008 graduate with a Master of Business Administration from the Lutgert College of Business.

Simontis serves as the director of Development for the PACE Center for Girls in Lee County, where she is responsible for planning and executing the center's fundraising initiatives, overseeing volunteers, and promoting PACE’s mission throughout the community.

She also serves as chairwoman of the Women in Business committee for the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce, and special projects chair for the Southwest Florida Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association.

The Alumni Association also welcomed five graduates into the Soaring Eagles Society to honor alumni who have earned a degree from FGCU within the last decade. The recipients are:

Matthew Johnson - 2001 graduate in the College of Arts and Sciences, History. He is currently the director of the City of Fort Myers Department of Cultural and Historic Affairs, which includes the Southwest Florida Museum of History, Imaginarium, and the Burroughs and Landford-Kingston homes. He has co-authored two books, and works alongside FGCU to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education at the Whitaker Center and School of Engineering.

Special Agent Andy Waters - 2008 graduate in the College of Professional Studies, Criminal Forensics. He currently serves as a civilian scientist and investigator for the Air Force Office of Special Investigation. His responsibilities include ensuring the safety and protection of distinguished visitors and dignitaries to Florida, and serves as a member of Florida's Mass Fatality Response Team.

Melissa Wallace - 2007 graduate in the College of Health Professions, School of Nursing. She began her career at Naples Community Hospital as an intern in the Labor and Delivery unit, and was hired immediately after graduation. In 2009, working with other nurses on the unit and in coordination with Hospice, she organized a Night of Remembrance, where service is held for families who have lost a baby in the previous year due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death. The service is now held annually.

Ansley Cockram - 2009 graduate in the College of Education, Elementary Education. She currently serves as a fifth grade teacher at Eastside Elementary School in Clewiston, Fla. She was recently honored with the Brilliant Orange award, which recognizes outstanding beginning teachers in Hendry County.

Samantha Scott - 2005 graduate in the Lutgert College of Business, Marketing. After completing her studies, she established a multi-faceted marketing and communications company in Fort Myers called Pushing the Envelope. The firm's work has received numerous awards for their outstanding public relations program. Scott has been honored twice on Gulfshore Business' 40 under 40 lists. She gives back to the community through projects such as Blessings in a Backpack, the Children's Advocacy Center of SWFL, the March of Dimes and the SWFL Chapter of Susan G. Komen.

For more information, media representatives should contact director of Alumni Relations Lindsey Touchette at (239) 590-1016.

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