Media Contact: Joanna Norris, Associate Director
Department of Public Relations
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, supported by THE PLAYERS Championship, at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 2, at the Adam W. Herbert University Center Banquet Hall on the UNF campus.
Just over 300 UNF students were awarded First Generation scholarships in 2012-2013, thanks to University fundraising efforts and Florida’s First Generation Matching Grant Program, which began in 2006 when the Florida Legislature appropriated $6.5 million statewide to be matched by private donations.
“The First Generation scholarship has the potential to change the future for entire families,” said UNF President John Delaney. “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.”
In the past seven years, 1,200 UNF students have been a part of this scholarship opportunity. Thanks to the generosity of many donors in the community, these deserving students have received a total of $5 million to achieve their dreams.
UNF received a $250,000 gift from THE PLAYERS Championship Charities Inc. in 2010 to provide First Generation scholarships to students who are first in their families to go to college. The University received an additional $500,000 from THE PLAYERS, bringing the total given to $750,000. THE PLAYERS made a five-year commitment to provide scholarships to the University, which will be matched by the state on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
For UNF freshman Sara Gaver, who was born with a physical disability called Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita that limits the use of her arms and legs, the First Generation Scholarship Program has helped her reach her dreams of becoming a teacher and has helped ease the burden of daily challenges.
Ever since she was 8 years old, Gaver knew she wanted to be a teacher and pushed herself to be everything she could be. “I took all honors and advanced placement courses, made the honor roll, volunteered in the community, tutored in many subjects, sang in the choir, and was even class president my junior and senior year of high school,” she said.
Gaver knew that she wouldn’t just be able to apply to college, get accepted, move in and begin a new life. She had to take into consideration a lot more than your average college student. She needed all of those typical assets a college student needed but also needed personal care, assistive technology and accommodations. All of these things added to her expenses. The 24 hour, seven-days-a-week care she needs totals more than $60,000 for just one school year.
“The First Generation Scholarship has been an enormous help and is making my college career possible,” said Gaver. “I have my fill of challenges every day, but thanks to this scholarship, paying for school is a whole lot easier.”
So far, her freshman year at UNF has been amazing. She’s in the Honors Program and last semester, she made the Dean’s List. She joined a sorority, takes part in all kinds of campus events and in her spare time, she volunteers in an afterschool program for disabled students.
Most importantly, Gaver has become an advocate for students with disabilities. “I tell them to believe in yourself and you’re halfway there,” she said. Gaver and other First Generation Scholarship recipients will be speaking at the recognition luncheon, where approximately 100 student-scholars are expected to attend.
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