Former Miss America champion Ericka Dunlap takes a walk on the political side

By : Billy Manes
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ORLANDO – Ericka Dunlap has been everywhere. The ubiquitous beauty queen has followed the trails of her 2004 crowning as Miss America with numerous service projects, making her name as a supporter for the rights of those with less, and doing so with grace. She’s also hilarious, but you’re not supposed to know that. This year, Dunlap will face off against Orlando District 5 Commissioner Regina Hill in November. And though Hill has been dogged by bad press and a series of unfortunate events, Dunlap isn’t trading in the base of political gamesmanship. She’s just continuing her philanthropy in the best way she knows how: at home.

“I have been a resident of District 5 all of my life, and honestly I have always wanted to positively impact the people. That’s the reason why I think people should give pageants credit: for what they can do, which allows a young lady to represent her area, but also to bring life to what you can do,” she says.

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LGBTQ students raise awareness through UCF pageants

By : Anna M. Johnson
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ORLANDO – Haley Zilberberg and Stanley Swindling are two University of Central Florida students that identify as lesbian and gay, respectively. They’re also two UCF students that competed in the Mr. and Miss UCF Scholarship pageant Feb. 3 and 4. Swindling won first runner up and fan favorite and Zilberberg won best talent.

This pageant was the two college seniors’ first ever. They both rehearsed for over four months to compete in the shows, with no guarantee of any prizes.

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University of Central Florida president addresses immigration concerns

By : Anna M. Johnson
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University of Central Florida President John C. Hitt

ORLANDO – University of Central Florida President John C. Hitt sent out a statement to the college community Jan. 30 about President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting entrance to the United States. The order prevents people who hold a passport from or were born in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia from travelling to the U.S.

Hitt’s email addresses the restriction in the context of university officials and students.

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President Obama makes a last pitch for Clinton, Murphy at UCF

By : Adam Manno
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ORLANDO – President Barack Obama pulled out all the stops at a Friday night rally for Hillary Clinton at the CFE Arena to remind Central Floridians to not just vote, but to vote to preserve his legacy.

People began to wait near the arena at 1 p.m., with the line wrapping around the Tower 4 dormitory all the way back to the football stadium by 5 p.m.

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UCF opens LGBTQ History Month with Todrick Hall

By : Chelsea Santiago
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The atmosphere was that of excitement in the Cape Florida Ballroom at the University of Central Florida Oct. 4 for the university’s LGBTQ History Month opening ceremony.

Art displayed around the room emphasized UCF’s LGBTQ History Month theme, “Maintained the Pulse,” meant to honor the victims of the Pulse shooting. The art was provided by Hidden Artists and Sean Wiggins, and focused on the LGBTQ community and Wiggins’ One Love Project.

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UCF to offer course on gender identity

By : Anna M. Johnson
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The University of Central Florida is offering an English course that will explore both the oppressive and supportive role of gender in writing. “Gendered Rhetorics” is being offered as a 3-credit class through the Department of Writing and Rhetoric for the Fall 2016 school term.

“We’ll be looking at a lot of public protests or speeches, acts of resistance that are in films, television shows, music and literature,” Dr. Martha Brenckle, who teaches the course, says. “[The class will study] people that really question this whole idea of ‘gender’ and what it means.”

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UCF documentary on John’s Committee to broadcast nationwide

By : Nicole Dudenhoefer
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Charley Johns (center) with members of the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee

In an era where classroom interruptions and injustices can go viral with a tap on your smartphone, a new documentary looks to expose viewers to a time when discrimination at public universities was quietly encouraged.

 The Committee aims to educate viewers on the Florida Legislative Investigative Committee of the State Legislature, which was dedicated to removing homosexual teachers and students from state colleges in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This secret group, led by Florida Senator Charles Johns and also known as the Johns Committee, was used to fire and expel over 200 students and teachers in state universities.

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UCF now offers PREP

By : Wire Report
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Orlando (AP) – The University of Central Florida’s health center has begun offering a drug that helps prevent an HIV-negative person from becoming infected with the virus.

The Orlando Sentinel reports UCF is joining a number of schools that are beginning to offer pre-exposure prophylaxis (PREP).

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Meet the Intern: Adam Manno

By : Adam Manno
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Hey there! I’m Adam and I’m Watermark’s Spring 2016 intern.

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I ran the InternPursuit event at UCF (found: a picture of me with said event, not found: a retoucher with a soul), where Watermark interviewed journalism students hoping to find The Best Intern in the World. I sat down with Rick (Claggett, publisher) and Jamie (Hyman, Digital Media Director) last minute as an unscheduled interviewee. They loved me and I loved them. Now here I am typing into a computer screen between a “Hate Free Zone” sticker and a series of Best Website WAVE awards.

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Wedding Bells at Watermark: Rob Ackerman and Russel Hiett

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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Rob Ackerman, who is a retired interior architectural designer and remodeler, and Russel Hiett, who is a retired family and marriage therapist, both have many things in common: They’re both family oriented, lovers of art, and have been previously married to women who they had children with.

“When my wife and I married in the early ‘70s, we had talked about the fact that I was gay, but at that time they had nothing written about it, and she was a professor at UCF,” Russel says.“Since there had been literally nothing written about the subject, we thought, ‘Well, maybe we really were attracted to each other, and maybe that was just a passing fancy.’”

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Zebra Coalition awards six scholarships

By : Kimberly Schlicter
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Hope emanated from the group gathered at The Abbey on Aug. 27 as attendees celebrated the six recipients of the Jefferson R. Voss Education Fund.

The scholarship, which is organized by Zebra Coalition, is offered to local LGBT youth who plan to attend UCF, community college, a career and technical center or to get their GED.

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Equality Florida’s Carlos Guillermo Smith announces run for State House seat

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO – Equality Florida’s Carlos Guillermo Smith announced he will run for Florida House Representative in District 49 in the upcoming election year.

Smith, who is also the current Chair for the Orange County Democrats, decided to run after former State Representative Joe Saunders made the decision to not make another bid for the Florida House in 2016.

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