Earlier this month, the House Democratic Caucus joined the Florida Retail Federation in an annual retail industry dinner to discuss the annual budget and educational scholarships.
Guests included the president of FRF Rick McAllister, Rep. Alan Williams, Rep. Dwight M. Bullard, and other Florida politicians. Representatives from The Walt Disney Company, Wal-Mart stores, and Publix supermarkets were also present.
At the University Club Center at Florida State University, Sally West, director of government affairs for FRF, explained the essence of the annual briefing.
“Our goal is to help the Caucus understand some of the issues we encounter daily,” West said. “Secondly, we let them know some of the problems or challenges we are facing so government might be willing to help.”
According to West, the FRF has contributed with donations providing food, school supplies and scholarships. In 1995, the FRF contributed $250,000 toward construction of the FRF scholarship house on campus and Williams presented the FRF scholarship house with a $10,000 check donated from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in September 2009.
The Southern Scholarship Foundation oversees all the scholarship houses on the campus of FAMU, FSU, University of Florida and Florida Gulf Coast University, as mentioned on its Web site.
In its mission statement, the SSF seeks to help deserving young people who lack financial resources, but demonstrate excellent academic merit and moral character and attend institutions of higher education. The SSF is a highly competitive scholarship and includes specific requirements to become eligible, as listed also listed on the site. One must be a full-time student at one of the four participating schools, maintain a 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale, pass a series of interviews and provide written essays.
Jazmin Cuencas, 21, an educational leadership graduate student at Florida State from Sebring, Fla., and the head resident at the FRF scholarship house, explains how the scholarship from participating retailers has impacted her.
“I was worried about where I would live,” Cuencas said. “I feel like the scholarship was a bigger excitement than my acceptance letter.”
During the annual dinner, Cuencas learned the important role the government plays on establishing policy and making decisions for educational awards.
The meeting helped crystallize her vision of politicians.
“They are just like us and I left with a refined confidence in our government,” Cuencas said. “This meeting made me eager to get more involved in politics.”
Cuencas and others students in the foundation agree that SSF lives up to its motto. It is not just a scholarship, but education for life.
President of the FRF scholarship house, Nicole Adams, 19, a second-year pharmacy student from Tallahassee credits this scholarship for providing a way to pay for her education.
“I was present when the check was presented by Williams,” she said. “It was then that I realized when the government and retailers work together, everyone wins.”
These form of contributions show how critical the government’s role is in keeping scholarships available for students that maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher.
“This is a perfect example of coming together for the greater good,” said Adams. “Teamwork makes the dream work.”