The University of North Florida will recognize endowed and First Generation scholarship donors and will celebrate the lives of students that have been forever changed by their generosity at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, in the Adam W. Herbert University Center, Building 43, Grand Banquet Hall, Room 1044, on the UNF campus.
This event celebrates the donors who are helping students achieve their dreams by either establishing an endowed scholarship or supporting UNF’s First Generation Scholarship Program, which targets students who are the first in their families to seek a four-year college degree.
“As a first-generation student myself, I know the support from our donors sets an example for our students and inspires them to one day pay it forward, so future students can benefit the way they did,” said UNF President David Szymanski.
This is the 13th year of the UNF First Generation Scholarship Program. More than 3,800 students have been a part of this scholarship opportunity, receiving over $9 million in scholarship funding to achieve their dreams of being the first in their family to attend college. Since the First Generation Scholarship Program began in 2006, more than 1,500 donors have invested in the fund. Every donation is leveraged for additional funds from the State of Florida.
Endowed scholarships have grown significantly over the past two decades. Currently, UNF has over 300 endowed scholarships that total more than $48 million. Each year, spendable interest from the University’s endowed scholarships support students across all academic disciplines. For example, last year the UNF Foundation awarded almost $2.6 million to more than 1,100 students.
For UNF sophomore Kristina Pierre, the First Generation Scholarship Program has helped her realize her dreams of getting a college education, making her a role model for her little brother and sister.
Her parents left the poverty of Haiti hoping for a better life, but, life has never been easy for Pierre and her family. Both of her parents had several low-paying, dead-end jobs. Because they couldn’t afford a babysitter, she often went to work with her mom at a sports bar, where she sometimes helped wash the dishes.
Pierre recalls her family not owning a television or having food for Thanksgiving dinner and wearing the same clothes over and over. When she was 15, Pierre got a job, so she could help pay the family’s bills and help provide for her siblings. Her family was able to afford a few school supplies that had to be split among the kids.
“While my parents never finished high school, they made sure I understood that education is the answer. They taught me to stay focused on school because no one can ever take knowledge away from you,” said Pierre, who is currently taking five classes and working nearly 30 hours a week.
The health administration major was thrilled when she first found out she was the recipient of a First Generation Scholarship, which helps lighten her financial burden. “I’m grateful that I don’t have huge student loans weighing me down,” Pierre said. “This scholarship is helping me and my whole family.”
When she graduates, Pierre plans on saving money, so she can pay for her brother and sister to attend college. “I’m a role model to them, and when they look at me, they see someone who worked hard enough to get to college,” she said.
About the University of North Florida
UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.