Knights Advocates

KNIGHTS ADVOCATES

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With more than 235,000 alumni, 60,000 students and thousands of faculty, staff and community partners, our voices can be heard. The Knights Advocates program helps local and national leaders learn about UCF's goals and its impact on the local, state and world economy. With support from the university, the UCF Alumni Association, UCF University Relations and community leaders, Knights Advocates make sure legislators and key decision makers understand that UCF and its graduates play a key role in economic development through science, research, business and the development of a highly educated workforce.
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What We Do

  • Promotes university's goals. 
  • Communicate UCF's economic impact.
  • Informs community on advocacy.


Legislative Priorities

  • Secure the necessary investments to protect and sustain the Department of Defense modeling, simulation, and training cluster in Central Florida.
  • Obtain both traditional and new revenue streams to support the facility needs of UCF and the State University System.
  • Receive preeminent program funding for those academic areas in which UCF is recognized for excellence and leadership, such as in the STEM disciplines.
  • Partner with the State of Florida, as opportunities present themselves, to take advantage of economic development projects that promise to significantly impact the region's and state's economic competitiveness and prosperity.

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Economic Impact

UCF contributes to the region's success by assessing the community's needs and building programs to meet those needs. Programs built from shared goals range from business to medicine and from science to digital media. But our contribution to Central Florida does not end there.

  • UCF currently has more than 10,150 employees, including administration staff, faculty, teachers and students.
  • The UCF College of Medicine and Life Science Cluster will generate 30,000 jobs a year, $2.8 billion in annual wages, $460 million in annual tax revenue and is estimated to have a $7.6 billion annual impact on regional economy.
  • The Life Science Cluster will provide a proper breeding ground for technology advancement and has immense potential as a new home for a number of technology and research facilities.
  • UCF is a metropolitan research university attracting more than $145 million in research funds each year. UCF's research innovations help Central Florida attract and retain companies that provide high-tech, high-wage jobs. it is estimated that for each dollar of research funding revenue received at UCF, approximately two dollars in total economic output in the region is created.
  • The Business Incubation Program has created almost 3,700 jobs in the Central Florida region since it was created 15 years ago. It has generated more than $1.5 billion in sales and has generated more than $75 million in state and local taxes. The return on $1 of investment at the incubator sites was $5.93.
  • Since 2008, UCF's partnership with the Florida High Tech Corridor Council has resulted in matching funds for 615 university research projects with 250 local companies, resulting in a $130 million benefit to the community.
  • GrowFL, a University of Central Florida economic development program, which helps to grow small companies in the Central Florida region, has created more than 13,000 jobs, contributed more than $2.3 billion to the Florida economy, and generated $20 million in state and local taxes.
  • The Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL) has worked with 170 companies to develop new optics and laser technologies, helping them expand their profitability, and factored in the creation of 23 start-up businesses.
  • UCF's partnership in the Photonics Research Institute for Sustainable Manufacturing, or PRISM, is expected to add 30,000 photonics-related jobs in Osceola County.
  • One of UCF's most important contributions is the education and advancement of our future leaders, educators and entrepreneurs.

Contacting Legislators

Writing elected officials is an important means of communication between the people and their government. Your thoughts, opinions and concerns matter and should be heard by those who represent you in local and state government. While communication during the time a legislative priority is being discussed is important, the best way to support UCF is to show appreciation. After your legislator has supported a university priority, consider contacting your representative to let them know your gratitude.

Below is a list of tools and tips on how to effectively communicate with your legislator by phone, letter, or in person:

  • When contacting any type of representative — local, state or federal — do some research on who he/she is and which community or district he/she represents.
  • Stay informed – take the opportunity to use Knights Advocates resources to learn about the economic impact of UCF on state and local districts before initiating contact.
  • Be personal in your communication— use your name and give information about yourself that will help your representative identify you. Let them know you are a supporter of the University of Central Florida.
  • Timing is everything. For example, if your issue is regarding a bill, make sure you contact your legislator before the bill is voted on.
  • Always be polite, respectful, and gracious for their time. Make sure to address them by Senator or Representative.
  • Stay focused on your topic. Keep each letter, phone call or meeting to limited to one issue.

Legislative Scholars


2014 Legislative Scholars

Jarrett David

1. What is the hot topic of the week in the Florida State Capitol?

This week marks the final week of the 60-day session. The House and Senate must agree on a $75 billion state budget by Tuesday and place it on the Governors desk to be signed. A great number of important bills have been passed this session but there are still more to be voted on in these final days of the 2014 Legislative Session, including whether to approve a strain of marijuana for medical use and whether to allow the Department of Transportation to raise speed limits.

2. What has been your favorite moment so far as a legislative scholar?

I have had numerous rewarding experiences over the past 3 months working in Speaker Designate Crisafulli’s office with his exceptional staff. One experience in particular, occurred this week when fellow Legislative Scholars and myself were able to meet with the Attorney General Pam Bondi. She answered questions that the group had about Florida’s legal system and due to the fact that she will be the commencement speaker for UCF’s upcoming spring graduation, she asked us to inform her on what makes the university unique and about some of the universities noteworthy achievements.


Kevin Deo

1. What is the hot topic of the week in the Florida State Capitol?

The Capitol is oddly quiet this week (4/14 – 4/18) seeing as the House and Senate are off for the week. The House and Senate Leadership arranged for the members to have this week off to spend the Spring Holidays with their families and to recoup for the upcoming budget conferences next week, which is sure to be a rigorous feat. While the members may be off, the remaining staffers are working ever so diligently to prepare for the final budget meetings that will determine what the state will invest in for the following year.

2. What has been your favorite moment so far as a legislative scholar?

My favorite moment thus far would have to be when the Sargent’s office let me walk onto the Senate floor. Not many people get the opportunity to stand where I stood and literally feel the history in the room. The fate of millions of Floridians have been and will be decided in that chamber and to stand there was breathtaking and worth wile. And naturally while in the Senate chamber, I had to take a selfie.

Jessica Sirianni

1. What is the hot topic of the week in the Florida State Capitol?

International and Caribbean Days festivities have been taking place this week at the Capitol. However, abortion, which tends to be a controversial issue, has been a hot topic this week. Senator Flores' Termination of Pregnancies bill (SB 918) was up this week in the Judiciary Committee, where many of the Senators voiced their personal stances on abortion. This pro-life bill passed through the Judiciary Committee and its next stop is the Committee on Rules. If passed on the floor, this bill would require a physician to determine the viability of the fetus.

2. What has been your favorite moment so far as a legislative scholar?

The day that stands out most to me as a Legislative Scholar is UCF Day at the Capitol, which is when about 100 UCF students visit Tallahassee in order to lobby issues related to their education. Not only was it great to see the Capitol covered in black and gold, but I was also able to see many of my fellow Knights taking an active interest in the legislative process and participating in civic engagement. I enjoyed hearing about the lively discussions the students had with Senators and Representatives regarding UCF's legislative priorities and the students' own opinions on various bills.

Alysha Burgess

1. What is the hot topic of the week in the Florida State Capitol?

The hot topic this week in the Florida State Capitol is Appropriations. Subcommittees are now over and only regular committees are still running, but the House has already put out its budget and it is up for vote on the Floor this week.

2. What has been your favorite moment so far as a legislative scholar?

I think my favorite moment so far has been writing a resolution from scratch by myself. One of my Representatives asked me to write a resolution for Armed Forces day and I think it is extraordinary that my work could possibly be passed, signed by the Governor, and placed in the session journal for all to see from all eternity.

Mikaela Duffy

1. What is the hot topic of the week in the Florida State Capitol?

This week we've had an incredibly exciting schedule. Of course, bills are making their ways through the process and it's been an amazing opportunity to be able to participate and watch the progression. A few of our bills have finally made their way down into the Senate Floor and several more are making successful progress through their committees. Our Hot Topic in Room 320 SOB this week, though, would have to be the first bill that we've finally gotten all the way through the Senate and that has been adopted: SB: 0118 National Retail Sales Tax. It was definitely an awesome experience to be able to hear the decree that it had been adopted and I only hope that the rest of our bills can be so lucky!

2. What has been your favorite moment so far as a legislative scholar?

There have been a myriad of amazing experiences since I've made my way into the Capitol, but by far, I would have to say that one of my favorite experiences was the first day of Session. Senator Hays was kind enough to lend me his ticket to watch the Opening Session Ceremonies and it was an absolutely exciting experience. It was awe-inspiring to be able to see the actual pomp and circumstance that is the Florida Senate and I was honored to have been given the opportunity. It was definitely one of those things that I'll never forget from this internship.

Kurt McDavid

1. What is the hot topic of the week in the Florida State Capitol?

There is a somber topic of the week in Tallahassee. Many are paying their respects to Former Governor Reubin Askew as he recently passed away.

2. What has been your favorite moment so far as a legislative scholar?

My favorite moment as a legislative scholar so far was taking a tour of the Supreme Court of Florida. We had the opportunity to meet with Supreme Court Justice James Perry.

Jon Bielby

1. What is the hot topic of the week in the Florida State Capitol?

This week a hot topic seems to be a variety of issues as it is the beginning of session and everyone wants their voice to be heard. Some of the bills I have seen making the rounds relate to fracking, gun rights, anti-bullying, and environmental protection.

2. What has been your favorite moment so far as a legislative scholar?

My favorite moment so far has been when I was able to see the Governor's office, it was a really cool experience and was something I was never expecting when I took this internship.

Christina Nguyen

1. What is the hot topic of the week in the Florida State Capitol?

Depending on which house and which committees your legislator is with, the hot topic that week or even that day can vary greatly. On Monday, the hot topic in the media and surrounding the Capitol was 'stand your ground'. Protesters marched on the Capitol and high profile individuals including Al Sharpton spoke outside the Capitol. Although the bills (SB 130 and HB 33) amending 'stand your ground' was not up for vote at the Senate Criminal Justice committee meeting Monday, the parents of Trayvon Martin and the mother of Jordan Davis were invited to the committee meeting to speak to the legislators about their concerns. Both bills require training and greater restrictions for neighborhood watch volunteers and have made it through their first readings.

2. What has been your favorite moment so far as a legislative scholar?

So far my favorite moment was attending the Joint Session on the first day of the 2014 Session. There I got to hear the Governor's State of the State and see the pomp and circumstance of opening session. However, right after the meeting all the legislators went right back to work and the session was officially in full swing.

Grey Dodge

1. What is the hot topic of the week in the Florida State Capitol?

All is quiet in the Capitol this week. Most senators, representatives, and legislative staff ventured back to their districts because there were no committees. Next week marks the beginning of session, so it's nice for the staff to get a quick break before the madness begins. It's also a great time for legislators to meet with more constituents in their districts before starting the process.

2. What has been your favorite moment so far as a legislative scholar?

We had a group of constituents from Circles of Care in the Capitol a few weeks ago. While in the Capitol, I gave the group a tour of the Senate floor. Most of the group were youths who had been in some type of trouble. It was amazing getting to connect with them and see their awe at the senate floor. Giving back to the constituents, the very people we're making laws for, that's what it's all about.

Allysia Mompoint

1. What is the hot topic of the week in the Florida State Capitol?

Currently at the State Capitol, there is a high-volume of attention surrounding the topic of medical marijuana. There have been several press conferences focusing on this piece of legislation, of which have ultimately shed light to its practical use with regard to the medical arena. It will be interesting to see how the bills filed within the Senate progress, in hopes of progressing with the rest of the United States. We have also seen the progression of the bill regarding victims of wrongful incarceration which was proposed by Senator Thompson.

2. What has been your favorite moment so far as a legislative scholar?

Thus far I have found myself in an array of moments, all of which have made this experience extraordinary, in only a matter of two weeks. There is a world of knowledge within the Senate Building and Senator Thompson's office in particular. Specifically, my favorite moment was at our first evening of receptions on Tuesday, the 11th of February. Here we were able to be amongst the Senators, Representatives and the legislative aides that help to guide the process. To be engaged in conversations with those whom have been a part of the legislature for years and receive tidbits of wisdom, while amidst the unexplainable awe of an awakening legislative system is an experience I will never forget.

Elisabeth Mendes

1. What is the hot topic of the week in the Florida State Capitol?

There was a full house at the Health Innovation Subcommittee to hear HB 7 - Florida Kidcare Program and see it voted on. Representative Brodeur, who I am interning for, is Chair of that committee and the bill was found favorable by the committee.

2. What has been your favorite moment so far as a legislative scholar?

So far my favorite moments have been watching each of the Representatives I am interning for (Jason Brodeur and Ritch Workman) present bills in committee meetings. It was a wonderful way to see the process taking place and get a feel for the technical aspects of how bills make their way through session.

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