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Press Release for Friday, March 30, 2007

Fund Helps Students Become First in Family to Attend College

Contact: Joanna Norris, Assistant Director
Department of Media Relations and Events
(904) 620-2102

Earning a college degree may seem like an impossible dream to students hoping to be the first in their families to attend college, but it’s not anymore.

The University of North Florida today recognized students during a First Generation Scholarship Luncheon who are the first in their families to seek a four-year college degree. More than 300 UNF students were awarded First Generation scholarships in 2006, thanks to UNF fundraising efforts and Florida’s First Generation Matching Grant Program. The program began last year when the Florida Legislature appropriated $6.5 million statewide to be matched by private donations.

“I believe that giving a student the opportunity to be the first in his or her family to go to college is truly a great gift,” said UNF President John A. Delaney. “It has the potential to change the future for entire families.”

UNF is trying to raise $400,000 annually in private support, which, when matched by the state, will provide $800,000 in need-based First Generation scholarships for students entering UNF each fall. The students must meet UNF’s academic standards.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, only 21 percent of Duval County residents age 25 and older are college graduates. According to UNF estimates, more than 1,000 students qualify for the First Generation program.

“There are people who care, who understand, and who can see your potential. Those people are willing to help, and with their help anything is possible,” said Amanda P Sieusahai, a UNF business major and First Generation Scholarship recipient.

Nikitah Day, UNF a biology major and First Generation Scholarship recipient, said her mother cried when she found out about her scholarship. “It’s really a blessing for me to go to school in the first place,” she said. “She was just really happy for me to be able to go to UNF, my first choice.”

The University needs to raise $400,000 for this fall and has already raised $280,000. $120,000 is still needed. If UNF’s fundraising efforts are successful, the university anticipates awarding scholarships averaging $2,300 to at least 300 deserving students each year.