Letter from Broward College
I grew up in South Jamaica, Queens, New York, a community laden with violence during the height of the crack pandemic in the 1980s and 90s. While I did not have a single college graduate in my immediate family, or my extended family, I somehow knew that I could transform my reality if I had a college degree. With my 2.7 high school GPA, I traveled thousands of miles to attend Arizona State University. I enrolled at ASU sight unseen. Upon arrival, I learned that I would need remedial education. I had poor study habits, no external network, few resources, and infinite doubts. With the help of others, I overcame the aforementioned, and I obtained grant opportunities, which meant I could cease accumulating private loan debt. But for them, I would have known no other way.
My story is not unique. Twenty five years later, I have the seemingly implausible opportunity to serve 63,000 Broward College students, many with doubts and stories reflective of mine. Some of our students come from well-resourced families who realize the return on the financial investment in a Broward College education, but the overwhelming number come from the other end of the financial spectrum. Almost half of our students are Pell Grant eligible, like I was. Many of them face numerous challenges that would break some of us: homelessness, food insecurity, lack of transportation, being single parents working multiple jobs. They are gifted, however, with an unrelenting will. This is the prevailing story of the nearly 700,000 students across the 28 Florida College System institutions.
Despite (or because of) their experience, our students have decided to lift themselves through a postsecondary education. Our existence is grounded in helping them overcome the barriers to success. The Helios Education Foundation helps us manifest our students' dreams and aspirations and bridge the gap between ability and opportunity. For more than fourteen years, thanks to Helios’ generosity, the Florida College System Foundation has invested millions of dollars to provide scholarships to first-generation college students. These scholarships are anchored in the belief that education is the path to a better life and upward social mobility.
More than 300 students at Broward College have benefitted from renewable Helios Education Foundation scholarships valued at more than $400,000. In June 2020, we also received funding to launch the HeliosBC2FIU Scholarship Program to support 140 additional students over the next four years to earn an associate degree and guaranteed admission to pursue a bachelor's degree.
Thanks to the Helios Education Foundation, hundreds of Broward College students and thousands more across our great state have the support needed to shift their trajectory. Instead of fearing for lack of resources, these students can focus on enhancing their lives. We salute the Helios Education Foundation scholarship for its investment in higher education, our students, our community, the prosperity of our region, and the future of our nation.
Gregory Adam Haile, J.D.