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Florida Residents Access Grant. Full Wattage. 30 years of making Florida brighter!


Academic year: 2021

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Full Wattage

Florida Residents Access Grant


Dear Fellow Floridian:

Florida’s 28 independent colleges and universities are proud to

celebrate the 30th year of the William L. Boyd, IV, Florida Resident

Access Grant. Over the past 30 years, this grant has provided access

to quality higher education experiences for hundreds of thousands

of Florida students. These students come from diverse backgrounds

and from every community in Florida; all of them seeking a higher

education experience that will allow them to pursue unique careers

that enhance Florida’s future.

The FRAG is a tuition assistance grant created by the Florida

legisla-ture to increase opportunities for Floridians seeking a college degree,

strengthen the private higher education sector, and create savings for

taxpayers by reducing demand on the public systems. The FRAG

delivers an exceptional return on investment for Floridians by

help-ing the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida educate

deserving students.

ICUF institutions are a Florida higher education resource at a very

modest state budget cost. They receive, in total, less than 3% of the state’s higher education budget, mainly

through direct student grants, and yet they award more than a quarter of the state’s bachelor degrees and

40% of all graduate degrees in the state. FRAG alone is less then 1.5% of the state’s higher education

bud-get. ICUF schools graduate nearly 30,000 skilled students each year who enrich the Florida workforce and

improve Florida’s schools, hospitals and businesses. They expend in excess of $6 billion each year in the

state’s economy and employ tens of thousands of faculty, staff, and students.

Many ICUF institutions have been higher education resources in Florida longer than Florida’s community

colleges and most state universities. They have a long and rich history of service to our state and a proud

heritage filled with graduates who live and work in Florida, helping to make our state a brighter and more

prosperous place.

This brochure details a few of these distinguished alumni, each of whom has received the FRAG and gone

on to serve Florida in their own unique way. As you read each of their compelling stories, you will see how

important the FRAG was to their educations and how beneficial your continued support for the program will

be to future students as well.

The best days of Florida are ahead and through higher education we can create endless possibilities.


Ed H. Moore, President

Ed H. Moore


The Florida Resident Access Grant (FRAG), formerly called the Tuition Voucher Program, was created by the

Legislature in 1979 as a non-need based program to provide tuition assistance to Florida’s undergraduates who

attend independent, nonprofit, SACS-accredited institutions in the State. In 1998, the name of the program

was again amended to the William L. Boyd, IV, Florida Resident Access Grant in memory of the individual

who represented the independent colleges and lobbied for support of the program since its inception. The

program’s enabling legislation, s. 240.605, F.S., states:

The Legislature finds and declares that independent nonprofit colleges and universities eligible to participate

in the William L. Boyd, IV, Florida Resident Access Grant Program are an integral part of the higher education

system in this state and that a significant number of state residents choose this form of higher education. The

Legislature further finds that a strong and viable system of independent nonprofit colleges and universities

reduces the tax burden on the citizens of the state.

This language touches upon the program’s primary statutory goals:

• To broaden student choice through the provision of tuition assistance to reduce the tuition gap between

public and independent institutions

• To support institutional diversity through support for a strong system of independent higher education

• To reduce the tax burden on the citizens of the State.


Per-Student Award




















All Students Dispersed*



















*Full Time Equivalent Student Count



FRAG Student Counts by Year


As the Senator from District 28 in the Florida Senate, Senator Negron is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a member of the Select Committee on Florida’s Economy. From 2000 to 2006, Joe served in the Florida House of Representatives, the final two years as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

He is a native Floridian, born in West Palm Beach. He received his undergraduate degree from Stetson University where he was a FRAG recipient, a law degree from Emory University and a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University. He practices law with the statewide law firm of Akerman Senterfitt. “Funding from FRAG provided my fellow students and me an important component to finance our undergraduate education at Stetson University. Many years later, as Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, I was proud to be part of the successful effort to increase FRAG to $3,000 per student, the highest ever,” he says. “Even as we reduce spending in the current economic climate, I look forward to funding FRAG to the best of our ability. Florida must continue its commitment to a strong and vibrant postsecondary education system, which includes thriving public and independent colleges and universities.”

Joe and his wife, Rebecca, have three children and live in Stuart. Joe has focused his legislative efforts on the budget, insurance issues and protection of individual liberties.

Mike Haridopolos, a 1992 graduate of Stetson University, has served in the Florida

State Legislature since his election to the House of Representatives in 2000.

Elected to the Senate in 2003, Haridopolos, 39, is the youngest member of the

Senate Republican Caucus. He will be designated the President of the Senate in


“My experiences at Stetson University, the University of Florida, and the state

legislature have proven to me the importance of the FRAG program,” Haridopolos

said. “By reducing the cost of education, FRAG helps to ensure that enrollment

at Florida’s colleges and universities remains broad and inclusive, adding greater

intellectual diversity to student populations. Additionally, FRAG participants

praise the program for having provided them greater flexibility in planning their

educations. Finally, as a state legislator, FRAG has proven itself to be both

cost-efficient and a solid investment in Florida’s economic future. For these reasons I am, and will remain, a strong

supporter of the FRAG program.”

In addition to his work in the Florida legislature, Haridopolos has taught professionally at the college level

since 1993. He is currently an instructor at the University of Florida, Gainesville.

Joe Negron

Stetson University

Mike Haridopolos


Will Weatherford, a 2002 graduate of Jacksonville University, is a state representative who has been designated by his peers as Speaker of the House in 2013-14. Even more remarkable is the fact that he was the youngest member of the Legislature prior to the 2008 election.

“The FRAG was certainly a big help for me in affording a private college education,” Weatherford said. “I come from a family of nine children and money for college was hard to come by”.

“My higher education at JU played a significant role in my life. Living on a smaller more intimate campus allowed me to be involved in many activities such as Student Government, Student Athletic Advisor Council etc. I also feel like I received a great education due to the quality of the university and the small class sizes. It was a perfect fit for me.”

Weatherford got his start in politics when he was elected vice president of the Student Government Association. He was elected to the House in 2006 at the age of 26.

“I have a baby girl but she is only 8 months,” he said. “My goal is to make sure that the legislature continues to fund the FRAG so she will benefit from it if she decides to get a private education. It is one of the best investments that the state of Florida has made.”

Martin David Kiar received his undergraduate degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University in 1999 and received his Juris Doctorate from Nova Southeastern University in 2002. Martin is currently an elected member of the Florida House of Representatives.

“The education I received from both Palm Beach Atlantic University and Nova Southeastern University School of Law have enabled me to follow and reach my dreams and goals. Without the Florida Resident Access Grant, I would not have been able to attend Palm Beach Atlantic University and most likely, would not have become a successful attorney and public servant. I thank God everyday for giving me the opportunity of attaining such a remarkable higher education.”

Martin graduated as a Political Science major from Palm Beach Atlantic University and was first elected to the Florida House in 2006 and was subsequently re-elected in 2008.

“My daughter will be born around July 12, 2009. If she decides one day to follow in my footsteps and attend an ICUF University, then FRAG will be instrumental in giving her the opportunity of achieving a truly spectacular higher education.”

Will Weatherford

Jacksonville University

Martin David Kiar


Marvin Cordero, Administrator of Government Relations in charge of Community Affairs & Outreach for Jackson Health System/Public Health Trust in Miami, is a 1991 graduate of the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business & Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University. Cordero was an older, returning student when he attended Nova Southeastern, where he also earned a Master’s of Public Administration degree.

“I received the FRAG and it helped me a great deal,” he said. “I was in my 30s, raising a family and attending school at the same time. My employer’s reimbursement program and FRAG assisted me in accomplishing my educational goal.”

Cordero’s office at Jackson monitors public policy, legislative and regulatory initiatives, and serves as liaison with the federal, state and local governments. He said he may consider running for office in the future.

“At the present time I enjoy community affairs and representing Jackson Health System as their liaison and working closely with several elected officials,” Cordero said. “To me it’s very rewarding when you implement health programs that benefit the needy.”

He has won a number of community awards in Miami-Dade County honoring him for his work at the hospital and for developing the One-Armed Bandits, a physical challenge organization that promotes sports and recreation for the disabled on an international level.

Bonny Cable is a 2004 Florida College graduate who teaches third and fourth grades at Riverhills Elementary School in Temple Terrace. In just her third year of teaching, she was named Teacher of the Year at her school. Cable received the FRAG from 1999 to 2004 and has two sisters who also received the grant when they attended Florida College.

“It was a tremendous help in being assured of attending the school I had always planned on attending,” she said. “I knew that the financial support the FRAG offered would keep it possible to remain at Florida College throughout my entire college experience.”

Cable said her experience at Florida College made it possible for her to pursue a career she loves.

“I have discovered my passion for teaching by being able to receive the best education from Florida College,” she said. “I specifically chose Florida College for the mission and belief system of the school. I knew it would provide the appropriate college environment for me to complete my degree and pursue a career that I ADORE!”

Marvin Cordero

Nova Southeastern University

Bonny Cable


Robin Sherman, Ph.D., is a 1994 graduate of Nova Southeastern University who teaches biology and environmental studies at her alma mater. She is Assistant Director of the Farquhar Division of Math, Science and Technology at NSU and coordinator of the Clinic Exploration Program.

In addition to her undergraduate degree in ocean studies, Dr. Sherman also received her master’s in marine biology and doctorate in oceanography from Nova Southeastern.

“The FRAG made a big difference, mostly because it helped me to understand that there were resources out there if I looked for them,” Dr. Sherman said. She said her experiences at NSU “made me aware of possibilities, both my own and those of others to achieve something good.”

Dr. Sherman specializes in Physiology and Ichthyology, which is the study of biological science concerning morphology, physiology and taxonomy and ecology of fish.When she was working on her doctoral dissertation she launched efforts to remove hundreds of waste tires from the Osborne Reef off the coast of Fort Lauderdale. That led to a project involving state and local environmental agencies and the Army, Navy and Coast Guard to remove an estimated 700,000 tires from the ocean floor.

Circuit Judge Angela Cowden, a family court judge in Highlands County, is a distinguished ICUF alumna who earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and an MBA from Florida Southern College.

“I worked my way through college, and the FRAG helped me during my first two semesters of college to be able to focus on school and work and doing my best,” Cowden said. Graduating from Florida Southern College with both the Chemistry degree and then the MBA and being able to focus on doing my best and making good grades allowed me to attend the law school of my choosing, and further my education,” she said. Cowden has paid back the investment the state made in her education by choosing a career in public service. She received her law degree at Stetson University.

“Once I graduated from law school, I worked as a prosecutor, and for five years specialized in environmental and economic crime prosecution - this specialization

combined all three of my degrees - the chemistry helped me to understand environmental and regulatory issues, the MBA with economic and money issues and of course the law degree allowed me to combine everything,” she said. Cowden was appointed county judge and subsequently elected to that office. In June, Governor Charlie Crist appointed her as a circuit judge.

“I truly enjoy service to the people of the State of Florida and believe I am qualified to make tough decisions because of the years of service as a prosecutor before becoming a judge,” Cowden said.

Judge Angela Cowden

Florida Southern College

Dr. Robin Sherman


Mark Mcgrew is a 2004 graduate of Webber International University who now works for EmCare, the largest physician management firm in the country. He received his bachelor’s degree in business in 2004 and his MBA in 2006.

“The FRAG allowed me to afford a private school’s tuition at a public school’s price. The FRAG also allowed me to stay in my home state and go to school, which was my plan all along.”

“My higher education has allowed me to obtain a job that has high expectations not only within my organization, but to the communities in which I serve,” Mcgrew said. “Earning my degrees at Webber has given me the opportunity to advance internally with my organization while allowing me to develop as a business leader.”

Keon Williams is a 2008 graduate of Bethune-Cookman University who works for the U.S. Census Bureau in Miami. He also worked for President Obama’s campaign and a non-profit community development program in Miami.

Williams received FRAG all four years of attendance, from 2004 until 2008. He majored in political science and public administration.

He said the FRAG made his dream of a college education become a reality

While attending Bethune-Cookman University, Williams was the student founder of the Black Males in Higher Education Think Tank. He also participated in Student Government Association, the campus chapter of the NAACP, and served as an ICUF Presidential Fellow for two years.

Will Royall earned a bachelor’s degree in digital arts from Stetson University in 2004. He is the owner of an advertising agency with accounts including Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Hilton, T.G.I. Friday’s and Holiday Inn.

Royall came out of a solid high school digital arts program in St. Petersburg, and he really wanted to attend Stetson for its small class sizes and the close interaction between professors and students. One-on-one instruction is critical in digital arts because of the high-tech equipment and complex computer applications, he said.

“The FRAG was an important part of my financial aid package,” he said. “Every dime was important.”

Just five years after graduation, Royall’s company has 10 employees and an office in downtown Orlando. Royall Media is a success because of his college education, the contacts he made through faculty, staff and alumni, and his experience as a student employee in Stetson’s Media Services Office. In addition to studying digital arts, Royall minored in Spanish and studied abroad in Madrid, Spain, for a semester.

Today, Royall gives back to Stetson as a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors and active supporter of his fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi.

Mark Mcgrew

Webber International University

Keon Williams

Bethune-Cookman University

Will Royall


Kamden Kuhn, a Clearwater Christian College graduate, began her career as a television reporter in Tampa and is now the media relations coordinator for the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association Florida Chapter.

Kuhn received the FRAG from 2005 to 2007. “Because of FRAG, my goal of completing my college education became financially achievable,” she said. “It relieved a significant part of the burden that was weighing on my shoulders and the shoulders of my parents.”

Kuhn said her education made it possible for her to get a job as a television reporter and then move into a career in media relations for the ALS Association.

“Certainly, my education has played a large part in giving me the knowledge and ambition necessary to exceed my goals,” she said. “In the spring I plan to begin working on my master’s degree – a task that can only be accomplished because of the foundation that was laid in my undergraduate education.”

Kuhn’s husband, Mitch, also received the FRAG when he attended Clearwater Christian. He is now the High School Youth Pastor at First Baptist Church of Ruskin.

Flagler College graduate Laura Hill, Senior Director of Communications for the PGA TOUR, is the first member of her family to graduate from college. She is in charge of public relations for 11 tournaments operated by the TOUR, including THE PLAYERS Championship and THE TOUR Championship. Hill grew up in Dunnellon, where her parents own a small restaurant. “Of course, they provided for my sister, often going above and beyond what they could afford, but I always knew that if I was going to attend college, I wanted to do it without burdening them with debt,” she said.

“Programs like the FRAG help students like myself not only attend college, but also focus on our educations and relieve the burden of student loans or reliance on our parents, who work so hard each day just to get by.”

Hill graduated from Flagler in 1998 with a degree in sports management and communications. During her last semester at Flagler she worked as an unpaid intern at the Ladies Professional Golf Association.

“I was able to take an internship at the LPGA – which was the absolute best opportunity, even though it was unpaid – without worrying about finances, thanks to the FRAG, as well as additional scholarships I received,” Hill said.

She said her experiences at Flagler gave her “the ability to work in the trenches” and develop the skills she needed to get a job she loves.

Kamden Kuhn

Clearwater Christian College

Laura Neal Hill


Shannon Schambeau Patterson is a 2003 Saint Leo University graduate who competed in the Miss America pageant and worked as a fund-raiser for Special Olympics. Patterson earned a B.A. in business, receiving the FRAG all four years she attended Saint Leo, and followed up with an M.B.A. from her alma mater in 2005.

“I treasure my education from Saint Leo and greatly benefited from having financial support from the state,” she said. “I appreciate the state rewarding students who are ambitious in making a difference in their lives and the lives of others.”

Patterson has been a longtime volunteer, dating back to her youth, with Special Olympics, the international organization that promotes recreation and physical fitness for people with intellectual disabilities. After graduating from Saint Leo, she worked as manager for donor relations at the international headquarters of Special Olympics.

Patterson was named Miss District of Columbia in 2005 and competed for the title of Miss America in 2006. She finished among the Top Five in the Miss America contest that year.

Patterson’s public service is concentrated in the non-profit sector. She has helped build more than 20 homes through volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity, and has participated in the Jimmy Carter Work Project in Valdosta, Ga.

Melissa Meeker is a 1991 Palm Beach Atlantic University graduate who owns an environmental consulting business. She was appointed by Governor Charlie Crist last year to the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District. Her business, Hesperides Group, provides strategic water resources planning and permitting services to clients. Environmental consulting is a way of life in the Meeker household as her husband Richard, also a PBA alumnus, owns Wetland Consulting Services, engaging in environmental surveys, permitting and compliance services.

Meeker and her husband received the FRAG when they were PBA students. “I received this funding, enabling me to attend a high-quality private college that met my personal needs more than a large university could,” she said.

“I am in a governor-appointed position and have always been dedicated to public service,” she said. “I have a strong desire to give back to the community and hopefully to have a positive impact on people’s quality of life and on the environment.”

Meeker said her education at PBA was “the foundation by which I built a strong and successful professional career.”

Shannon Schambeau Patterson

Saint Leo University

Melissa Meeker


Taryn Fielder, a 1999 graduate of Eckerd College, is a commercial real estate attorney at a prestigious Washington, D. C., law firm, who took a leave of absence to serve as Deputy General Counsel of Barack Obama’s Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Fielder received the FRAG while she was a student at Eckerd from 1995 to 1999. She grew up in Niceville in the Florida Panhandle and had a double major at Eckerd in Political Science and International Relations & Global Affairs.

“I received the FRAG all 4 years of my college education,” Fielder said. “It was important to me to be able to attend college without needing to rely on my parents to finance my education and having the assistance of the FRAG, together with a scholarship I received directly from Eckerd, meant that I was able to accomplish my goal and independently finance my education.

From Eckerd, Fielder went on to earn a law degree at Harvard. As a lawyer in Washington, she practices commercial real estate law with a focus on acquisitions and financings of hotel and resort properties. “Eckerd College prepared me for my three subsequent years at Harvard Law School,” Fielder said. “Eckerd has had a profound impact on my life since, especially in that I credit Eckerd with my desire to have balance in addition to success. I want to be more than just a successful lawyer. I want to be a person who gives back, who volunteers, who does good for the community. And I credit Eckerd with instilling that virtue in me.

“In addition to providing a top-notch liberal arts education, the experience of meeting and getting to know intellectually curious students, faculty and staff helped me to develop my goals, ideals and ideologies.”

Rob and Gail Quam, 1985 graduates of Warner University (known then as Warner Southern College) are a FRAG family. They received the FRAG when they transferred from a community college to Warner from 83-85. Their daughter, Amanda, is a current FRAG recipient at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

“The state’s outlay for us while at Warner (through FRAG) was less than while we attended community college and less than it would have been had we attended state universities,” they said. “Yet FRAG was a significant part of the package of resources that allowed us both to attend and graduate from Warner.”

Gail majored in elementary education and earned a master’s in educational leadership from the

University of South Florida. Rob majored in church ministries and earned a master’s in social work at Florida State University Gail is the principal of Polk Avenue Elementary School in Lake Wales, and Rob is the executive director of the Lake Wales Care Center, which runs a variety of community service programs.

“Our undergraduate degrees helped set a solid foundation for our professional careers and community involvement,” the Quams said. “Being able to serve as campus leaders while at Warner was a tremendous boost in launching us into a lifelong commitment to professional and community leadership.”

Taryn Fielder

Eckerd College

Rob and Gail Quam


Rahman Johnson, a 2000 graduate of Edward Waters College who won a local election while he was a junior in college, is a marketing consultant and actor. His latest film, “Incorporated: The Story of the Philadelphia Black Mafia,” is making the rounds at film festivals.

Johnson received the FRAG while he attended Edward Waters from 1998 – 2000, majoring in mass communications and political science.

“FRAG helped me to complete my studies at Edward Waters by reducing the amount of student loans and other contributions that I would have to make,” Johnson said. “This in essence provided a ‘springboard’ to give me more of an even keel start on life. Had it not been for the FRAG funds, I know that I would have had to add additional semesters to my matriculation.”

A former radio and television personality in Jacksonville, Johnson was named one of America’s Top 30 Leaders Under 30 by Ebony Magazine in 2001. While he was a student at Edward Waters he was elected to the Duval County Soil and Water Conservation District.

“I have always been involved in public service and I know that it will be a life-long mission to stay involved and to work to leave the world a better place than it was when I arrived,” he said.

“Higher education played a great deal in ALL of my accomplishments in life. From running for public office as a student to serving as host of one of the highest rated shows in the history of cable television, I know that it was as a direct result of higher education!”

Joseph Wessel, a 1995 graduate of The University of Tampa, is the Training & Development Coordinator for the Pepin Distributing Company in Tampa.

Wessel received the FRAG from 1991 to 1995 and said it made the difference in his decision to attend a private college in Florida instead of one in another state.

“It was the major difference that decided which of the two universities in contention (Spring Hill College, Mobile, AL and the University of Tampa, Tampa, FL) that I would attend,” he said. “My family, typical suburban middle-class, faced an economic factor regarding education. I attended a private, Catholic high school with no financial aid and intended to continue benefiting from such an enriched education.”

“The FRAG dollars could not be met by the out of state college’s grants or scholarships. The decision became clear instantly. I remained in the state and received a high quality learning experience.

Wessel majored in psychology at UT, saying his career of 13 years “is directly due to the education I received at the University of Tampa. Comprehensive liberal arts are not limited to the classroom. Experiential learning and student leadership are important components to higher education. My employers have recognized a well rounded communicator with the ability to gather, organize, understand then utilize information.”

Rahman Johnson

Edward Waters College

Joseph Wessel


Luke and Amber Martorelli, a married couple who studied computer animation at Ringling College of Art and Design, work at Pixar Animation Studios, one of the world’s premier computer animation studios.

Luke and Amber received the FRAG when they were students at Ringling College of Art & Design. Luke is a lighting technical director at Pixar and Amber is computer animator. “Every little bit helps with the cost of education,” Luke said. “FRAG was a large part of helping me achieve my goals.”

“It helped alleviate some of the pressure financially with attending Ringling,” Amber said. “I worked during my studies at Ringling, as well as took out loans for the cost of school. I needed the help.”

Luke received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Ringling with a major in computer animation and minor in photography. Amber received a B.A. in computer animation.

“It allowed me to learn my discipline in animation and photography and get great jobs in the industry,” Luke said. “It also allowed me to work with and interact with my current co-workers as so many of us from Ringling still work with each other.”

“Ringling, while giving me an education in animation, also was training me in work ethic and how to work collaboratively,” Amber said. “I have been able to obtain all the jobs that I sought after and companies I have dreamed of working for.”

Stewart Parker, a 2002 graduate of Rollins College, teaches at Winter Park High School. He received the FRAG from 1998 to 2002.

“Because of the FRAG, I felt I could attend Rollins, which I knew was the best college fit for me, but I wasn’t sure how I would financially make it happen,” he said. “Because of the FRAG, I was able to attend this great institution.” Parker said his experience at Rollins has made him a much better teacher.

“I was introduced to so many different people from different backgrounds, races, ethnicities, religions and political views,” he said. “Each of these interactions enhanced my education beyond the walls of the classroom. As a teacher, I use many of the lessons learned at Rollins to enhance my classroom.”

Since he became a teacher, Parker has been named Florida Social Studies Beginning Teacher of the Year, received National Board Certification, been AP and IB trained, and named Teacher of the Year and Teacher of the Year County Finalist. “All of this is partly because of the great training from Rollins College,” he said.

“I am still able to use the college as a resource as well. I have emailed faculty and staff members for help with preparing lessons. This is one of the many benefits I have gain because of my time at Rollins, which the FRAG really helped.”

Luke and Amber Martorelli

Ringling College of Art and Design

Stewart Parker


Terrell D. Brown, a 2006 graduate of Florida Memorial University, is a graduate student in a combined Master’s of Social Work-Ph.D. program as a Frederick Douglass Doctoral Fellow at the Howard University School of Social Work. Brown transferred to Florida Memorial from Morehouse College in 2004 and received the FRAG for two years, while earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology.

“The commitment to further and complete one’s education can be quite challenging,” Brown said. “It requires dedication, determination and discipline. Undoubtedly, the FRAG and other aid was an invaluable resource/support to me in continuing and completing my undergraduate education.

“My educational accomplishments and past research experience as a psychology major and current doctoral student in social work have provided me with a solid understanding of various aspects of human behavior,” Brown said.

“As a first generation college graduate in my family, I am able to recognize the importance of education. My life and undergraduate experience at a Historically Black University (Florida Memorial University) has heightened my awareness of the overall educational crisis people of color face. Thus, it is my hope and intention that my doctoral education will prepare me to improve and promote equity and social justice.”

Luis Maldonado was the first person in his family to earn a college degree when he graduated from Stetson University magna cum laude in 2001. After applying to a variety of public and private universities, he chose Stetson because he was from a small town and “believed a small school would be the best place to hone my skills and develop new ones.”

What he found at Stetson were professors who were accessible and willing to go out of their way to assist and mentor students. An English major, Maldonado developed the writing and analytical skills he needed for law school and his career.

He graduated cum laude from the University of Florida, Levin College of Law, and is now an Assistant Chief Counsel with the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in Orlando. He has recently accepted a position with ICE’s National Security Law Division in Washington, D.C.

In addition to participating in the inaugural Leadership Stetson program last April, Maldonado recently established the First Generation College Student Endowed Book Fund to assist in paying for textbooks.

“The Florida Resident Access Grant,” Maldonado said, “was critical to helping fund my education.” He also received several scholarships. “I wouldn’t have been able to go to Stetson,” he said, “without the financial aid I received.”

Terrell D. Brown

Florida Memorial University

Luis Maldonado


Gloria Czerniec Trujillo graduated with her BSN from Barry University in 2002. After Graduation she worked at Baptist Children’s Hospital as a pediatric nurse for six years. She later graduated from Barry in 2007 with her MSN in nursing administration.

In 2008, she was hired to work in Baptist Outpatient Services as the urgent care supervisor for the Baptist Medical Plaza at Country Walk. This new center has an urgent care and a pediatric diagnostic center; the first pediatric diagnostic center for Baptist Outpatient Services. Gloria joins the ranks of nurses in the state at a time when the nursing shortage is critical.

“My education has really been able to advance my career and broaden my ideas about nursing and the future of nursing,” she said. “I am a supervisor which enables me to take an active role in decisions and ideas which will highly influence nurses in the urgent care setting, as well as influencing the patients we take care of everyday.”

Ricel Valdes is a 2007 graduate of St. Thomas University who is working on a master’s degree in international relations with a minor in American constitutional law at Eastern Illinois University. In the summer of 2008 Valdes interned at U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s Washington office and the New Zealand Parliament. “I have known I wanted to enter public service since I was a child,” she said. “Advocating and pushing forth for issues for my community and peers is a passion of mine. Ever since I was a child I didn’t know any other lifestyle that wasn’t being actively involved in the community or even more so on campus in order to help others.”

Valdes, the first member of her family to earn a college degree, received the FRAG when she was a student at St. Thomas from 2003 to 2007. She served as an ICUF Presidential Fellow for two years.

“The FRAG helped me enormously,” she said. “Thanks to the FRAG I was able to complete my financial aid package. If it weren’t for the FRAG, I am not sure I would have been able to afford to attend St. Thomas, which is the university I truly wanted to go to.”

Valdes is the Graduate School Student Dean at Eastern Illinois and has been named Midwest Legislative Concerns Chair of the National Association for Graduate and Professional Students.

“I have been able to accomplish so much due to my higher education experience, even more so at an independent institution like STU,” she said. “I was able to establish better relationships with faculty, staff and administration, which led me to get more involved.”

Gloria Czerniec Trujillo

Barry University

Ricel Valdes


John Constantinide is a 2007 graduate of the University of Miami. Constantinide worked as coordinator of the Reclamation Project at the Miami Science Museum, a project combining art and science to engage Florida communities about environmental restoration. He currently consults political candidates on green initiatives and voter outreach while finishing his master’s degree at the University of Miami.

Constantinide received the FRAG between 2004 and 2007. Looking back, he was appreciative of the assistance the FRAG provided.

“The FRAG really helped defray the cost of my tuition,” Constantinide noted. “With the FRAG combined with my University and Bright Futures scholarships, I received an excellent education for a fraction of the cost.”

Constantinide was appreciative of the strong science education, science research opportunities, and extracurricular activities in policy and advocacy while at the University. The combination of science and politics inspired him to pursue science policy, a new field he thoroughly enjoys.

“The opportunities to work in two completely distinct fields, science and politics, and combine my knowledge from those fields to make a policy impact was an amazing experience,” Constantinide said. “The University of Miami fostered my growth, giving me the resources and guidance to create a unique impact in my community.”

Constantinide is now part of the Community Advisory Board for the Reclamation Project, helping community volunteers participate in the environmental restoration project. He is also working on publishing research findings that use geographic analysis to incorporate environmental restoration and risk management. After completing his master’s degree, Constantinide plans to continue working in the science policy field.

Allison Lazarus is a fifth grade teacher at Sunrise Elementary School in Boca Raton. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2005 and a master’s in exceptional student education in 2006.

“I received the FRAG and it helped me to defray the costs of attending a private institution,” Lazarus said.

“I had some wonderful experiences during my course of studies at Lynn University. I had the opportunity to become involved in various social and leadership organizations. These opportunities have helped me to grow and become a better person in my career as an educator.”

John Constantinide

University of Miami

Allison Lazarus


Michelle Fillingim is a 1997 Florida Institute of Technology graduate who is a geographical information systems (GIS) and computer-aided design (CAD) technician at a geotechnical engineering firm in Berkeley, Calif.

A dual major graduate in physical oceanography and environmental science, she began her career as an underwater surveyor and map maker in Seattle, Washington. Fillingim received the FRAG from 1994 to 1997.

“If I hadn’t received the FRAG and other financial aid, I don’t think I could have gone to Florida Tech. I might still be paying off my loans,” she said.

Fillingim said her experience at Florida Tech was a solid foundation for the satisfying work she does today.

“My solid technical background is primarily from Florida Tech. Most valuable, I think, was the school’s hands-on philosophy. I worked on a boat, at the beach, in the remote sensing lab and enjoyed volunteer opportunities working with dolphins. For three of my four years I worked with Dr. Gary Zarillo (oceanography professor). He provided me with a lot of real-world work experiences and, although I was an undergraduate, I joined him in publishing several papers.” Natalie Steinhauser is a 2004 Embry-Riddle graduate, with a B.S. in Human Factors/Applied Psychology and a minor in Aviation Safety. She is now a research psychologist for the Naval Air Warfare Center in Orlando, where she conducts educational and usability research to help train as well as prepare Naval personnel for their missions.

“The FRAG gave me the support I needed to follow my dream and attend Embry-Riddle, which offered one of the only undergraduate Human Factors programs in the country,” said Martinez. As a FRAG recipient for all four years while she attended Embry-Riddle, Martinez said, “FRAG was a tremendous help, because without it, I could never have gotten the amazing education I received at Embry-Riddle—and the experience and knowledge that I needed to succeed and truly shine among my peers.”

Martinez also credits FRAG and her Embry-Riddle preparation as key to

her present success and ability to pursue her Masters degree in modeling and simulation.

Michelle Boehmke Fillingim

Florida Institute of Technology

Natalie Steinhauser


Trey Heath is a graduate of Webber International University who now coaches tennis and serves as a part-time professor at Florida Southern College.

Heath graduated from Webber in 1994 with a business degree and earned an MBA there with a concentration in sports management in 2008.

“I have held a multitude of jobs which all have allowed me to become who I am today,” he said. “All of this was possible because I was able to use the FRAG money while attending one of Florida’s fine private institutions.”

“Having access to those funds allowed me to get my education and not have to focus on paying too many bills when exiting the education process which allowed me to try the different career paths that interested me instead of having a job to pay back loans. Heath is reminded on a regular basis of the importance of the FRAG, helping Florida students to afford to attend ICUF institutions. “I have six players from Florida on my

team who are very excited to be able to attend the college partly due to the funds they receive from the FRAG,” he said.

Sherry Paramore is a 1991 graduate of Bethune-Cookman University who works as Development Director for the United Negro College Fund in Orlando.

“My loans were maxed,” Paramore said. “I received all of the band and academic scholarships available. Without FRAG, I would not have been to attend and finish college.”

“Nearly 20 years have passed since I left the grounds of Bethune-Cookman College and my higher education experience continues to play a major role in my life,” she said. “I have maintained relationships established while in college, lessons learned in Political Science/ Public Administration are still relevant in my life today and most importantly, community service remains an essential part of my life.”

Parramore says she has not been elected to public office “yet,” noting Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune’s premise when she founded Bethune-Cookman in 1904: “Enter to learn, Depart to serve”.

“I have a profound belief that we as citizens of this country should give back to our communities and I have been compelled to utilize my time and talents to help others and work towards making our society a better place to live for everyone,” Paramore said. “I work everyday to ensure talented students who want and deserve a quality education are able to do so without facing financial barriers.”

She comes from a FRAG family, saying “I’ve had brothers, nephews, nieces and cousins who have received the FRAG.”

Trey Heath

Webber International University

Sherry Paramore


Amy Delettre is the Box Office Manager for the up-and-coming minor league franchise, the Jacksonville Suns. Her high-pressure position comes as no surprise to the 2008 Sports and Recreation Management graduate of Southeastern University. Her days as a student in the classroom and a goalkeeper on the soccer field prepared her for the rigors of overseeing an operation that sells over 300,000 tickets a season.

However, were it not for the FRAG grant she received, Delettre may have never come back to Florida. She left for college in Virginia after completing high school. The Jacksonville native wanted to return to her home state to finish college, but with her father in between jobs, she said, the prospects of returning were faint.“The FRAG helped out because I came from a low-income family,” she said, “Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to go to Southeastern.”

She received the grant from 2005 to 2007. It “secured me the ability to play soccer and go to a private university,” she said, “It was a big help.” Amy’s ‘office’ is The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, an immaculate facility along the St. Johns River.

Though her position can be stressful, said Delettre, she enjoys the fact that her box office team is “the fan’s first taste of the ballpark.”

Eve Messier, a December, 2007, graduate of Hodges University, started her college career in New York but had to move to Florida to care for her ailing grandmother. Eve works for Barrington Terrace Assisted Living and Memory Care Residence. Her official title is Marketing Director.

Messier enrolled at Hodges as a part-time student, she became a Florida resident and a full-time student and received the FRAG in 2006 and 2007. “Scholarships only go so far, and many students deserve to receive scholarships, but the FRAG could be the difference between someone going to school and realizing their dream and not,” Messier said.

Her income tripled the day she graduated. She was able to get a job working with an assisted living program, and her education, a bachelor’s degree in business administration, was the key to getting the job.

Since Messier came to Florida originally to take care of an ailing grandmother, she finds working with the elderly quite fulfilling. Since taking the job in Collier County, she has been asked to oversee her company’s growth into a Lee County location.

Without the FRAG, Messier said, she would have attended Hodges as a part-time student and it would have taken her much longer to earn her degree.

Amy Delettre

Southeastern University

Eve Messier


Barry University

Beacon College

Bethune-Cookman University

Clearwater Christian College

Eckerd College

Edward Waters College

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Flagler College

Florida College

Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences

Florida Institute of Technology

Florida Memorial University

Florida Southern College

Hodges University

Jacksonville University

Lynn University

Nova Southeastern University

Palm Beach Atlantic University

Ringling College of Art and Design

Rollins College

Saint Leo University

Saint Thomas University

Southeastern University

Stetson University

The University of Tampa

University of Miami

Warner University

Webber International University

From here you can go anywhere!

The Independent Colleges & Universities of Florida

542 East Park Avenue

Tallahassee, Florida 32301


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