Life for me has always been a bit
of a juggling act. My unmarried parents were teenagers when they had me and I
ended up living with my grandmother in Palatka, Fla. When she died, I lived with
my aunt and then my cousin in Jacksonville, who raised me as a son and
emphasized the value of an education. I didn’t always listen to her, though. I
skimmed through high school and wasn’t very serious about my classes. I mainly
partied with my friends.
When I came to the University of
North Florida, I initially felt out of place, almost like I wasn’t supposed to
be here. I didn’t meet anyone like me, with my upbringing. My confidence level
was low because I had never seen myself even getting to college. During my
first year, I failed some classes and barely passed others. But UNF didn’t give
up on me. Because of that, I decided I would try to work a little bit harder
before giving up and going back to my old life. That is precisely when things
began to change for me.
Slowly my grades improved. My
scholarship was extremely important because it motivated me to study harder.
Receiving the Zimmerman Family Scholarship showed me UNF will reward you if you
make an effort to succeed.
Then I became involved in the
Student Government, as well as other various organizations.
I was elected as a senator and it gave me a chance to see how democracy really
works rather than just watching it on television. It also gave me a chance to
interact with students of different backgrounds. We were able to solve problems
by working together. I was vice chair of the Budget and Allocations Committee
and I’m proud that we have reformed our expenditures so we are no longer
running a deficit. But more than anything, the experience helped me realize I
can make a difference if I’m willing to work hard and work with others.
I’m studying economics in the
Coggin College of Business primarily because I believe economic knowledge can
help solve many problems. When I finish my bachelor’s program, I’m considering
pursuing a master’s degree or possibly applying to law school. Perhaps someday
I will go into politics and use some of the lessons I’ve learned at UNF.
UNF accepted me and
embraced me by identifying my talents and helping me to develop them into
skills. That’s what makes this University a great one. As I continue my
academic journey, no matter how bumpy the road may be, I will always remember
how UNF made a transformational impact on my life.