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Press Release for Monday, March 2, 2009

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 will recognize students who are the first in their families to seek a four-year college degree during a First Generation Scholarship Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, March 6, at the University Center on campus.

More than 300 UNF students were awarded First Generation scholarships in 2008-2009, thanks to UNF fundraising efforts and Florida’s First Generation Matching Grant Program. The program began in 2006, 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 psychology major Sephora Bruner, a junior, got inspiration to go to college from her brother, who was injured in a car accident and is now a quadriplegic. “He was my biggest inspiration to go to college because he always motivated me to do well in school,” she said.

After she earns her bachelor’s degree in psychology, Bruner wants to get her master’s degree in school counseling. “I want to motivate children to go to college and to help make a difference in their lives.”

Lindsay Elvir, a UNF junior majoring in Biology, wants to attend medical school in the future. She says she is grateful for receiving the scholarship. “As a college student, I can only squeeze in a low-income job in my school schedule,” she said. “The First Generation Scholarship has given me the opportunity to attend college and I haven’t had to use any loans.”

The University needs to raise $400,000 for this fall in private support, which will be matched by the state and will provide $800,000 in need-based First Generation scholarships. 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 2,500 students qualify for the First Generation program.

The University anticipates awarding scholarships averaging $2,500 to at least 300 deserving students each year.