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Press Release for Tuesday, November 8, 2016

UNF Hosts Endowed and First Generation Scholarship Luncheon

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

The University of North Florida will recognize endowed and First Generation scholarship donors and will celebrate the lives of students that have been forever changed by their generosity at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, in the Adam W. Herbert University Center, Building 43, Grand Banquet Hall, Room 1044, on the UNF campus.

This event celebrates the donors who are helping students achieve their dreams by either establishing an endowed scholarship or supporting UNF’s First Generation Scholarship Program, which targets students who are the first in their families to seek a four-year college degree.

“As we celebrate our 44th year and reflect on the University’s history, the achievements are numerous and the impacts have been widespread. None of these things would have been possible without the support of those who believed in what could be,” said UNF President John Delaney.

This is the 11th year of the UNF First Generation Scholarship Program. More than 3,400 students have been part of this scholarship opportunity, receiving over $7 million in scholarship funding to achieve their dreams of being the first in their family to attend college. Since the First Generation Scholarship Program began in 2006, more than 1,000 donors have invested in the fund. Every donation is leveraged for additional funds from the State of Florida.

Endowed scholarships have grown significantly over the past two decades. Currently, UNF has over 235 endowed scholarships that total more than $46 million. Each year, spendable interest from the University’s endowed scholarships support students across all academic disciplines. For example, last year the UNF Foundation awarded nearly $2.5 million to approximately 1,100 students.

For UNF sophomore Briana Quay, the First Generation Scholarship Program, a Hicks Scholarship and other grants, have helped her realize her dreams of getting a college education.

She grew up with both her mom and father being in the military, living in Japan and Guam, until they moved to Jacksonville when she was a fifth grader. Her father was an alcoholic and became controlling and abusive. When Quay was in the 10th grade, her father lost his job and made life for her and her family unbearable, so she escaped by reading books.

“I have always loved school and education, so reading was a good distraction for the turmoil in my home,” she said. “But even with my books, I became depressed and found myself trying to put on a smile just to hide the pain.”

Quay’s mother decided to homeschool her and her brother, which her father didn’t like. It made him angry, and he wouldn’t give her mother money to buy the school curriculum she needed to teach them, so Quay fell behind. Far behind in her school studies.

The violence escalated to the point where Quay, her mom and brother fled to the protection of Hubbard House, where her mother found the strength and courage to file a restraining order against her father. As a result, she finally found peace. She enrolled at a charter school for at-risk youth and was told that she was three full grades behind her other classmates, which was devastating to her.

“My father used to scream at me, saying I would never graduate … that I would never amount to anything. But I was determined to prove him wrong,” said Quay, who noted that over a course of one year, she completely caught up in school and ended up graduating as valedictorian with a 4.2 GPA.

“For the first time in years, I was able to dream about a bright future. And I set my sights on UNF. I’m not sure you can fully understand what a big dream that is. For years, my mother would travel to and from her retail job using public transportation. We were living in public housing. Money was extremely tight. Then came the calls and e-mails from UNF,” recalled Quay.

“My mother is so proud of me. She brags every chance she gets! My very first semester on campus was scary for me. I was afraid I wasn’t good enough or smart enough to keep up with my classmates. But, my professors were wonderful. And the staff members here at UNF are very supportive,” she said.

Quay is a communication major, with a concentration in multi-media journalism and production and a double minor in photography and community leadership. Presently, she works one job in retail, one job tutoring on campus and runs a photography business on the side. She’s also taking a full load—15 credit hours. When she graduates, she wants to become a photo journalist.

“I think it’s the perfect blend of words and images. There is so much violence and sadness in the world, and I want to capture the good in people.”

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.