Rally draws a crowd

Lazara Jardines has dreams of becoming a pharmacist. She hopes to get accepted to FAMU’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in quest of the doctor of pharmacy degree.

Getting the degree would also make her the first in her family to accomplish the feat.

And she says it is all thanks to her scholarship funded by the Florida Lottery.

“I wouldn’t even be in school without my Bright Futures Scholarship,” said the 21-year-old biology student from Miami.

She, along with 1,000 students from universities across the state converged on the capitol Thursday to save the Bright Futures scholarship.

“It’s like they’re taking away somebody’s hopes and dreams,” said Jardines. “Some people are going to have to go straight to work instead of going to college like they thought.”

The procedure for handing out the scholarships, which have helped nearly 100,000 students get degrees from schools across the state, may be altered by legislators in the upcoming legislative session. This change will decrease the funding and elevate the requirements for the scholarship.

“We’re putting forth a conscious effort in for a change so we’re looking for our legislators to put forth a conscious effort for change,” said FAMU SGA Vice President Tisa Holley.

Talks of eliminating the funds, raising the standards for eligibility or decoupling the funds-setting a certain amount aside for all eligible students-is heartbreaking to some who are in school thanks to the scholarships.

“I wouldn’t be able to pay for school without it,” said Idorenyin Umoh, a 18-year-old computer science student at Florida International University.

Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan came out to address the students in their mission. He spoke briefly to students about the state’s awareness of the scholarship’s importance.

“If Florida is to compete with other schools across the nation, and even the world … reasonable students understand tuition will have to go up,” he said. “But somebody has to realize at the end of the day that we’re never pricing students out of the game.”

Brogan talked about the increase in test scores on the SAT and ACT since the inception of the scholarship program. He also made his pledge that changes to the current program will not go in effect immediately.

He also encouraged students to make sure their voices are heard.

“Stay engaged in what we’re doing,” he said. “Make sure you maintain a voice in the discussion.”