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 10,000 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 $100 million in research funds each year. UCF's research innovations help Central Florida attract and retain companies that provide high-tech, high-wage jobs.
  • UCF has developed a number of departments to assist Central Florida companies with starting, managing and growing their businesses, contributing to a stronger, more diverse economy.
  • Since its founding in October 1999, the UCF Business Incubation Program (UCFBIP) has helped more than 200 emerging companies (including more than 110 current clients) create more than $500 million in annual revenue and more than 1,600 new jobs with an average salary of $59,000.
  • 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. 
  • One of UCF's most important contributions is the education and advancement of our future leaders, educators and entrepreneurs.

Writing elected officials is an important means of communication between the people and their government. It is a means of expressing our needs and concerns to those who play a significant role in our future. Your thoughts, opinions and concerns matter and should be heard by those who represent you in local and state government. Below is a list of tools and tips for effectively contacting your legislator.

For names and information regarding your elected officials, visit the following links:

You can also find elected officials from your area by using a search engine such as Google. Just use the term "elected officials" and the name of your county.

Please review suggested methods below.

General Tips

  • 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.
  • Know the best way to reach your representative effectively. This information may be posted on his/her website, or you can call his/her office and ask.
  • Let your representative know that 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, even if you strongly disagree with your representative.
  • Always thank your representative for his/her time.
  • Stay focused on your topic and keep each letter, phone call or meeting to that one issue.
  • If you have another issue you would like to discuss, address it at another time.
  • Be personal — use your name and give information about yourself that will help your representative identify you.
  • Let us know about your contact with your representative.

By Phone

  • 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.
  • Know the best way to reach your representative effectively. This information may be posted on his/her website, or you can call his/her office and ask.
  • Let your representative know that 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, even if you strongly disagree with your representative.
  • Always thank your representative for his/her time.
  • Stay focused on your topic and keep each letter, phone call or meeting to that one issue.
  • If you have another issue you would like to discuss, address it at another time.
  • Be personal — use your name and give information about yourself that will help your representative identify you.
  • Let us know about your contact with your representative.

By Email

  • You can find your representative's email address on his/her website, or by visiting the Florida Senate and House of Representatives (links provided above).
  • Keep your letter or email focused on one issue and try not to stray off topic.
  • See "By Mail" tab for more tips on writing an email.

By Mail

  • Typed letters are preferred, but hand written letters are acceptable as long as they are legible.
  • Focus your thoughts and try not to stray away from your main topic.
  • Write all that is necessary in as few words as possible.
  • Keeping your letter to one page is preferred.
  • Lengthy letters tend to lose the reader and have less of an impact than a short, to-the-point letter.
  • Use your own stationary.
  • If you are writing as the representative of a group, use the organization's stationary.
  • Do not write on postcards.
  • Begin the letter with "Dear Representative (Last Name)" or "Dear Senator (Last Name)," depending on which applies.
  • Make sure you have the correct address. This information can be found on your representative's website.

Example:
The Honorable (Full Name), House of Representatives
513 The Capitol 402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300

-Or

The Honorable (Full Name), The Senate
405 The Capitol 404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300

 


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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