“Because of SSF, I’m able to go to school stress-free and without worrying about taking out loans.” —Kemy Eliassaint

My name is Kemy Eliassaint, a second-year Mechanical Engineering student at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University from Orlando, Florida. I chose FAMU because of the many opportunities that comes about at an HBCU. As I was applying for colleges my senior year in high school, I wasn’t even thinking about where I would be living, since I was looking for the most affordable place to stay. I remember I was in my Student Government Association class, and I received an email from FAMU telling me I could apply for scholarships. The first thing on the list was Southern Scholarship Foundation. At first, I paid it no mind.

As I got closer to graduation, I realized that I couldn’t keep slacking any longer, so I decided to look for scholarships to apply for and I went through the email I had from FAMU a few month earlier, and I went through the Southern Scholarship Foundation pages, went and watched the videos, and boom! I realized that was where I wanted to stay. I applied, and I pray every night hoping that I would get a chance to be interviewed by one of the Southern Scholarship Foundation directors.

A couple weeks later, I got an email to be interview and I aced the interview and since then I been living in the Knight house and I hope I can continue living the next 3 years in the Knight Scholarship House.

This is my second semester living in the Southern Scholarship Foundation Knight House. SSF means family to me. Life is going to take me far financially and academically due to SSF. Because of SSF, I’m able to go to school stress-free and without worrying about taking out loans. In the next 5 years of my life, I see myself working for Lockheed Martin or Duke Energy.

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“I knew that I would be living with a bunch of guys, I knew I would make a bunch of friends, but I didn’t know that these friends would become my second family.”—Charles Anthofer

My name is Charles “Chip” Anthofer, and I’m a third-year chemical engineering student at the University of Florida. I first got introduced into SSF through my sister Kelsey, who was already in SSF at FSU and now currently in law school. Being a middle child, I was able to look up to my sister and take advice from her, and luckily for me, she made sure I applied to be in SSF.

Without SSF, me and my brother and sister would have a much harder time obtaining a university education. I’m so thankful for my sister and her introducing me to SSF. Because of my sister, I thought I already knew what to expect when I applied to be in SSF. I knew that I would be living with a bunch of guys, I knew I would make a bunch of friends, but I didn’t know that these friends would become my second family.

Being in the Southern Scholarship Foundation has shaped me into the person I am today by allowing me to become friends with some of the best people I have met in my life. The house I currently live in, Williams-Pilot, is full of encouraging individuals who want you to succeed and have a great college experience just like them. I’ve become president of my house and have had the opportunity to hold a leadership role in this organization. Being an introverted person, I never would have met this many people and kept in contact with them for such a long time as I have in SSF.

Obviously, the difference that SSF has made on my life is amazing financially, but the extra bonus of how it changed me and how I would like to think I changed others for the better makes it so much more worthwhile. Just like how my sister told me about how great SSF I’ve is already told my younger brother about the great experiences I’ve had so far with this amazing community. I couldn’t be any more thankful for what the Southern Scholarship Foundation has given to me.

“SSF has given me a place to call home and people to call family.” —Sofia Hernandez

My name is Sofia Hernandez. I’m an Animal and Marine Science double major with a minor in Music Performance. I come from a family of immigrants who came to America searching for a better life for their kids. My parents have always had big dreams for me and my brother and have always pushed us to be the best that we can be, as well as strive to be the best that they themselves can be. Both of my parents are now American citizens, and I am so proud of both.

I am a junior in college now and have been a part of SSF ever since my first semester here at the University of Florida. Music has always been an important part of my life. I have been playing trombone for 10 years now and hopefully that number will keep increasing. I was debating continuing music in college, but as I continued on my college path, I realized that I couldn’t live without it. So during my first year of college, right after I got accepted into SSF, I applied to join the Gator Marching Band and marched for the first time in my life. Being a part of two wonderful groups my first semester of college was so amazing and has made the transition of being away from my family that much easier.

During the spring I realized that I wanted to become more involved in band and became a sister of Tau Beta Sigma, a national honorary sorority for members of the college band. I have also realized my passion for marine life and have decided that I want to be an aquarist and work towards the conservation and rehabilitation of our marine ecosystem. I come from the city of Kissimmee, located in Florida, and if you asked me back in high school where I saw myself in 5 years, I would not have said any of that. My college experience has forever been changed by all of these organizations, and I can honestly say that it was for the better.
Music has given me the chance to be myself, Tau Beta Sigma has allowed me to give back to the bands, and SSF has given me a place to call home and people to call family. I have met so many amazing people in SSF, especially in my house. Badcock isn’t just a house, it is truly a family. I’ve never had a sister, but if I did, I hope that it would be exactly like this. Coming home to a house of 15 other girls who know your name and are always there to listen to your problems is such an otherworldly experience. Whether it’s a shoulder to cry on or a smile to share, there is always someone willing to create memories with you.

I am now a junior and this will be my 3rd year in SSF, and at this point I’ve seen so many wonderful girls come and go. This is by far the best part of SSF, and I can’t imagine the day I graduate college and sadly leave. Though I’m sad for that day to come, I know it won’t be the end of my story and I have made friends for life. As a wise bear named Winnie-the-Pooh once said, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

“I can say that when I leave SSF, I will leave without having any student loans, and I will leave with numerous lifelong friends.”—Kiran Lalani

It is difficult to believe that I am starting my third year at University of Florida. I am a junior graduating in May 2020, and my time here at SSF has impacted my life forever.

Looking back at the last year at SSF, I can never forget the friends that became my chosen family. I remember coming into SSF and being skeptical about living with 17 other girls because my freshman year, I had a terrible roommate experience. But my reservation quickly diminished the moment I stepped foot in Roger-Rotary at Gainesville Florida. I learned quickly that these girls were empathetic, kind, understand, and mostly wanted to create lifelong friendships. I can say that when I leave SSF, I will leave without having any student loans, and I will leave with numerous lifelong friends.

The reason this opportunity has changed my life is because I come from a home that has two brothers. I never knew that my family has always struggled financially because being the youngest, it was always well kept from me, but thankfully I have a large family that has always been there to support me and my brothers while growing. As time went on, I began thinking about paying for college and all of the other expenses that came with it, especially since I was the last one in college. How would my parents put yet another child through a 4-year university financially? I was ready to take out loans and I did apply to hundreds of scholarships. Yet, SSF changed my life, and I could not be more thankful, especially due to the fact that I did not have to take any student loans for my bachelor’s degree.

Being the youngest child in my family, no one ever came to me for help, and being the only girl in my family, I never had the chance to grow up with sisters. I never had the chance to go through my sister’s closets and take clothes, and I never had a chance to talk to my sister about problems only girls may understand. However, all these “I never have’s” changed upon my acceptance to SSF. As Vice President of Rotary, I always had an open-door policy, so anybody could pretty much walk into my room at any time for advice, or to just discuss anything related to the house or just their personal life. This was the first time I was able to help people; I never had the opportunity of being wanted for advice since I was the youngest in my family. Now I have not one but 16 other sisters, some older than me and some younger than me. This means that now I have 16 closets to go through for outfits and shoes. Now I have 8 rooms to go into and talk about girl problems, or 8 rooms to just go into and hang out, or 8 rooms to go into and just laugh, have a good time, and create lifelong “college memories.”

SSF has impacted my life in numerous ways. I would be lying if I said that everything was all rainbows and sunshine all the time. The hard-core truth is that yes, there were bumps in the road, but in family not everything is perfect. All of our flaws together are what makes this house exciting, it’s what makes this house we call Rotary, a home. Over the past year, yes, we may have bumped heads, but that is what siblings do, but also over the past year I fell in love with every housemate’s flaws. I learned that love makes family not blood, and love is what makes a house a home. Rotary is MY HOME.

“…this example, though unique, demonstrates the everyday qualities of SSF and its residents: outstanding, compassionate, and deeply loyal.”- Phillip Mendez

School: Florida State University

Year: Fall 2014- Current

House: Mode L. & Jeanne C. Stone Scholarship House

Phil has held the position of Student Board Representative during the 2015-2016 school year and is the Development Associate for the SSF Team until his graduation in May 2017.

Mom got custody of me after my parents’ divorce in 2001. She lived with a man who stole my toothbrush, made me eat from the trash, and locked me in my bedroom without a toilet. When mom was home, we talked about the textures of leaves and the contents of shampoo. In 2008, she left town, the man, and me to pursue her life and career.

I moved in with my father, an entrepreneur and insomniac who drank Coke and scribbled notes onto a little yellow legal pad watching Mad Money late at night. We flew handcrafted kites on the soccer fields of my elementary school, munched on sandy BBQ Lays at Daytona Beach for vacation, and lived in Section 8 apartments, where kids played with fire in parking lots and cursed us behind chipped drywall. He taught me personal problem-solving, inner-potential, and the importance of treating people right.

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My first year of college, I was president of a dorm, advisor for the college of music, and, most importantly, friend to new, eye opening people – literally, eye opening. My first roommate Ben blasted Beethoven and made Maxwell House coffee to wake me up for our 8 a.m. sight singing class. I worked a sound console at a church and played guitar gigs at special events to pay for that first year. I knew working two hours every Sunday and a wedding every blue moon was not a real financial system that would get me through college. I applied for scholarships.

My sophomore year, I was accepted to the Southern Scholarship Foundation. Under their roof, I coauthored two (very obscure) books; held three leadership roles (though I hesitate to use “leadership roles” because I want to emphasize learning and collaborating not leading and role-playing); started a nonprofit; and made connections to the vibrant community of students, friends, and alumni that embodies Education for Life.

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When I was a junior, I went on a bicycle tour from Key West to Tallahassee, Florida. I crashed in Fort Pierce, clothes shredded, vision blurred, unable to lift my arms. An SSF housemate drove from his home-away-from-SSF in Vero Beach to get me to the emergency room. After I was cleared for concussions and broken bones, we went to his house. He gave me his shower, his food, and his bed until I regained my strength. I think this example, though unique, demonstrates the everyday qualities of SSF and its residents: outstanding, compassionate, and deeply loyal.

As I see it, the benefit of SSF is threefold: (1) SSF is the pragmatic answer to the student housing problem. Unlike apartments and houses, there is no scary lease. No maintenance issues. No shady rent lords; (2) SSF is a money saver ($48,400 over the course of an average degree), and for many of us (82% of residents), those savings made it possible to go to school; and (3) SSF is a network. My housemates have taught me about investment banking, boat-toured me around Miami, and helped me come to terms with the loss of a friend.

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My story is nascent, but I am proud to share the part SSF has played in my college years so far. There will be more revelations that resurface from forgotten places worth telling. When those visions come to light, I know there will be SSF graduates to share them with – on a boat in Miami, a ski slope in Switzerland, or at home, wherever that may be.

“I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be.” – Bethany Anderson

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I have never really felt like I belonged somewhere until SSF granted me the amazing opportunity to live in the Polk Scholarship House. Since I was a year old, I have moved place-to-place for many different reasons. My journey started when I was born in Tucson, Arizona. Not long after, my family relocated to Goldsboro, North Carolina. About six years later, we made the move to Toccoa, Georgia. My dad’s job moved us to Atlanta, Georgia when I was in sixth grade. Surprise, surprise we then moved again, this time all the way across the country to Vergennes, Vermont. As soon as eighth grade was over, we then moved all the back to the other side of the country to Poinciana, Florida for my freshman year in high school. The following year we moved to Clermont, Florida where I would graduate high school. The most important move so far would be the one I made to Tallahassee only one month ago, which meant I would now be living with 30 other motivated, kind-hearted, ambitious, and beautiful girls.

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When I found out I would be living with 30 other girls I was a bit intimidated and a little bit nervous, but while having that many personalities under one roof may bring some difficulties, it also brings new perspectives, new attitudes, new wisdom, and new adventures. A housemate may be a part of a club or take a certain class that you may want to be in, or know how the bus system works (it’s not as hard as I thought it would be by the way), or even have tips/suggestions to make college just a little bit easier. Having 30 housemates can be overwhelming, but more importantly it is such a great support system. In the midst of 31 girls, I am confident I can find one other girl in which has the answer to a question I might have, a suggestion to a problem, or even just some advice.  I am so lucky to be just one of the “31 Beautiful, 31 Strong”.

Not only is SSF providing me with a wonderful scholarship, in which, without it I am not confident I would be able to attend Florida State University, but it is also teaching me real-life skills that I will need after graduation as I enter the “real-world”. Living cooperatively, cooking meals, having a work job in which I have to complete twice a week, having responsibilities other than just school, and making important networking connections is preparing me more for the future than I could have ever imagined. I will always be grateful that I have the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful organization.

The Southern Scholarship Foundation is so much more than just a place to live rent-free, it is a home filled full with love, laughter, and support.

As of today, I have lived in Polk for over a month and I can truly say I don’t believe there is anywhere else I would rather be. I don’t feel like a misfit, I don’t feel like I am not welcome, I don’t feel as if I am a stranger; I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be. With only a month under my belt, I have already felt what it is like to constantly have someone to talk to whether that is my roommate, my house manager, or even just one of the girls in the kitchen making waffles at midnight. No matter where we all came from, no matter where we are all going, we all have this one thing in common—The Southern Scholarship Foundation

“…I come from a single parent household and I have 3 brothers who also felt passionately about attending college like me.”- Nadia Mousa

Name: Nadia Mousa

Year: Fall 2014- Current

House: Lundquist-Hovda Scholarship House

It’s so hard to believe that my 4 years at Florida State University are coming to a close. I am a senior Advertising Major graduating in May and my college experience has changed my life forever. As I reminiscence on the last four years and begin my job search, it’s easy to forget the individuals and opportunities that brought me to where I am today. But without SSF I wouldn’t have met the inspiring women that I get to call my housemates, I would be drowning in student debt, and I would not be as passionate and confident about my bright future.

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The reason this opportunity has changed my life is because I come from a single parent household and I have 3 brothers who also felt passionately about attending college like me. We have always struggled financially, but thankfully we have a large family that has always been there to support us when we were younger. But when it came to thinking about paying for college and all of the other expenses that came with it, how was my mother expected to do that for the three of us? We all thought that we would have to take out loans and apply to hundreds of scholarships to even barely be able to afford the costs of attending college. But SSF changed all of our lives and I could not be more thankful.

My older brother lived in SSF while he was attending FSU and he is now working as an engineer in Tampa, Florida. I followed in his footsteps and I am going on my 3rd year living in SSF and I hope to be just as successful as him. SSF has allowed my brother and I to achieve our goals and attend college. My only hope is that my younger brother feels inspired by both of us to follow his dreams, just as I was when my older brother first joined the SSF Family.

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Lundquist really has been my home away from home after all of this time. I have had the opportunity to be a Business Manager, which was one of the most challenging positions I’ve ever been in. But I was able to learn so much about myself through the process. After this experience, I found myself holding other leadership positions on campus too. I am currently the Team Captain of the Competitive Advertising Team and I was the Student Director of the Campus Recreation Marketing team for the last three years. Through these extra-curriculars, and the constant love and support from all of my housemates, I have found a career that I am so passionate about. I couldn’t have done any of this without the opportunity SSF has given me. I can confidently say that when I graduate in May, I will hold all of the memories and lessons that SSF has taught me close to my heart as I embark on my next chapter.

If you would like to sponsor a student like Nadia, please visit our ‘Sponsor a Student’ page here: http://bit.ly/SSFSponsorship

 

 

Using words to describe the intangible #Education4Life experience at Southern Scholarship Foundation. #SSFStories