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UWF partners in honoring trailblazers

In honor of Black History Month, the University of West Florida University College, Office of Equity and Diversity and Epps Christian Center partnered to award eight community members who inspire and empower the Pensacola area.

The inaugural Trailblazer Awards luncheon occurred recently at the Voices of Pensacola presented by Gulf Power. UWF President Martha Saunders was among the speakers at the event.

Quint Studer, business entrepreneur and philanthropist, won the inaugural Trailblazer Award. Dr. Kim LeDuff, UWF chief diversity officer, associate vice provost and dean of University College, said the committee recognized Studer for his commitment to establishing Pensacola as “America’s first Early Learning City.” 

“To give each child the best chance to live a full and healthy life the first 3 years of their life are most important. Why? Eighty-five percent of a child’s brain is developed during that time,” Studer said. “By creating America’s first Early Learning City, we will treat the cause of poverty, not treat symptoms. By helping every parent learn the skills on building their child’s brain, they will be ready for kindergarten. This means they will most likely graduate from high school. This means better wages, less crime and less early pregnancies. All children are our children.”

Studer said he felt honored to share the stage with fellow esteemed award winners: entrepreneurs and community advocates Lloyd and Robin Reshard (community service); attorney Fred Gant, Esq. (helping hand); radio broadcaster Robert Hill (community voice); Latino Media Gulf Coast Inc. President Grace Resendez McCaffrey (servant leader); Rev. John Powell (faith and service); and Boys & Girls Club of Greater Pensacola Executive Director Leslie Hunter-Huff (educational leadership).

“The whole idea of the Trailblazer Awards is recognizing and awarding community members who have made a lasting impact on the community,” LeDuff said. “All of the award winners have served segments of our community that often go unnoticed.”

Epps Christian Center Pastor Sylvia E. Tisdale conceptualized the Trailblazer Awards, along with LaVerne Baker, a member of the President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion. Baker then recruited University College and the Office of Equity and Diversity by connecting Tisdale to LeDuff.

LeDuff described the inaugural Trailblazer Awards luncheon as a wonderful event with tremendous growth opportunity.

“The first one went very well,” she said. “In the process, we realized there are so many others that we would like to honor as well.”

For more information about University College or the Office of Equity and Diversity, visit