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Press Release for Thursday, March 31, 2016

First Generation Fund Turns 10, 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 is marking a 10-year milestone with the First Generation Scholarship, which recognizes students who are the first in their families to seek a four-year college degree, during its annual First Generation Scholarship Luncheon, supported by THE PLAYERS Championship, at noon Tuesday, April 5, 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. Nearly 315 UNF students were awarded First Generation scholarships in 2015-16 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.

“Over the last 10 years, the First Generation Scholarship Program has been changing 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 last decade, more than 3,175 UNF students have been a part of this scholarship opportunity. Thanks to the generosity of nearly 1,000 individual donors in the community, these deserving students have received a total of $6.4 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.

UNF freshman Jennifer Bui is a nursing major and first in her family to attend college. In Vietnam, her family had to use every penny to feed the children. Her parents were happy just to make it to America, the land of opportunity.

Bui’s father had been working as a chef when he started having health issues. He’s now disabled, which has made things very hard on her mother, who at the age of 60, is working six days a week, 12 hours a day. Because the family no longer has her father’s income, they lost their house and had to move into an apartment.

Even though money was tight, her parents always encouraged Bui to make the most of her education. She graduated from Stanton College Preparatory School with a GPA of 4.01 and then got accepted into UNF.

“When I got the news that I was going to receive a scholarship to attend UNF, I was overwhelmed. It was unbelievable to me,” said Bui. “My mother told me that I was very lucky to be in America!”

She hopes to one day become a nurse or a pharmacist because she wants to help others, especially the elderly. Once Bui graduates from UNF and gets a job, she hopes her mother can retire and wants to get her family’s house back.

“Some people might think that having parents with no college education is a disadvantage. I see it as an opportunity to prove I can still achieve my dreams,” she said.

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.