In 2005, many memorable milestones occurred in my life. I graduated from high school near the top of my class, turned 18 years old and started my first semester of college in the fall.|
However, one event happened that year I wish I could forget. Hurricane Katerina swept across the gulf coast and mangled my father’s hometown of New Orleans. My grandfather, the patriarch of the Woods family and affectionately called papa died as the result of pneumonia, complicated by the inclement weather that was Hurricane Katerina. The loss of my Papa and seeing the images of this historic tragedy that rocked our nation, sent me into a depression from which I was afraid I would never recover.
But only a few short months later, I met a new grandfather figure – someone who relished and appreciated that new title and mantle. David and Linda Stein came into my life as scholarship benefactors. They quickly became Papa Stein and Mama Linda. Their scholarship rewarded my scholastic achievement in high school and my commitment to be a community leader one day. I consider them family.
UNF is known for its transformational learning opportunities (TLOs). My TLO was an internship with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2008. The season I spent with the Jaguars boosted my confidence and revealed to me that I was capable of accomplishing anything to which I set my mind. That was just one of three internships I was fortunate enough to obtain throughout my educational career at UNF.
I expect 2011 will be another momentous year in my life. I will graduate with my bachelor’s degree in the spring, plan to get married to my childhood sweetheart in the summer and begin my first semester of graduate school this fall.
Just as Papa and Mama Stein were there for me in 2005, they will be there for my graduate school. They are committing $10,000 toward my master’s degree here at UNF. I will be the third of my parent’s seven children to receive a master’s when I graduate.
I plan to use both my degrees in Sport Administration to build an executive-level career in some aspect of the sport industry. I dream of becoming the commissioner of one of the four major sport leagues.
Between now and then I intend to continue living a life in the hope of leaving a legacy. I will focus my efforts to challenge today’s youth to take advantage of their potential while leading others to improve their lives as well, just as Papa and Mama Stein did for me. I cannot thank them enough for their love and support. I commit to honoring them every step along the way in my path toward success.