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Press Release for Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Fund Helps Students Become First in Family to Attend College

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

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. today in the Adam W. Herbert University Center, Building 43, Grand Banquet Hall, Room 1044, on the UNF campus.

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. Just over 300 UNF students were awarded First Generation scholarships in 2014-15, 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 nine years, more than 2,860 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 $5.8 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 leveraged for additional funds from the State of Florida.

For UNF freshman Amar Muratagic, the First Generation Scholarship Program has helped him realize his dreams of becoming a nurse, as well as his grandparents and parents dream of him being the first in his family to get a college degree.

His story begins in 1992, long before he was born. His family was living in Bosnia, when his grandfather was captured by Serb forces and forced into a concentration camp. Not very many people survived those death camps, but his grandfather did. After seven long months of torture, he was freed. His grandfather decided to move his family to America.

Muratagic’s family was one of the first three Bosnian War refugees to move to Jacksonville. His father worked a variety of jobs from welding to construction to being a truck driver, and his mother found work as a maid.

As an only child, Muratagic has always been under a lot of pressure to succeed academically. “My parents expected excellent grades and I took it to heart. My grandfather went through so much just so that I could be educated and live a better life,” he said.

In high school, Muratagic was in the IB program, played four sports and served more than 200 hours of community service. It was during his volunteer work that he found his love for helping others and knew his passion was to become a nurse. When he got accepted into UNF and was given the First Generation Scholarship, he knew his life was beginning. He’s taking 14 credits this semester, keeping his grades up and focusing on getting his nursing degree and then going on to graduate school.

“Knowing what my grandfather went through, and everything my parents endured, makes me want to strive for more. I have been given those opportunities at UNF,” said Muratagic.

UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.