“I will never live in another house with seventeen women who inspire one another to be greater and reach higher.” – Geranise Dorce


dsc01368Name: Geranise Dorce

Majors: Psychology & African American Studies

School: Florida State University

House: Lastinger Scholarship House

Year: Spring 2016 – Current

Education has always been an important aspect of my life. I think education is an investment, and that any investment towards self-empowerment and growth is a great one. However, an even greater investment is an investment in the self that can also empower and inspire others. My siblings and I grew up without great examples of financial and academic success. My family was completely dependent on my grandmother, who worked in the fields and as a housekeeper in the United States to support us. My father died when I was two years old, and my mother never graduated high school. In fact, my older sister was the first in the history of both sides of my family, distant and immediate alike, to attend and/or graduate college.


In many ways my education will serve as more than proof of qualification for my career. My college degree will serve as hope and peace of mind to my mother and grandmother that I will not be working alongside them as a housekeeper. It will serve as proof of their hard work and sacrifices for my success. Furthermore, my degree will be another example to my younger brother, who seems to have been brainwashed by the media to think that his athletic abilities are his only abilities as a young Black man, that Black men and women can be both athletic and smart. We are not confined to society’s prejudices against us.

SSF has played such a major role in my success in college thus far, and in living an exemplary life for my brother. Because of the money saved from SSF, I was able to participate in a cultural exchange program to Germany for three weeks this summer. To travel abroad for the simple purpose of observing culture is a concept unheard of in my family. Yet, I was able to do it because of SSF. I was able to show my brother once again that the sky is the limit. SSF has exposed me to a support system unlike any other that I have ever experienced. At Lastinger, I have: a tutor, a study buddy, a running partner, a designated swimming teacher, multiple taxi drivers (basically), an editor, multiple chefs, church buddies, “travel and conquer the world” partners, multiple fellow telenovela binge watchers, and a ton of close friends to whom I can go for anything. SSF has also provided me with an opportunity to reciprocate that same support to the rest of my house. I will never have another opportunity like this. I will never live in another house with seventeen women who inspire one another to be greater and reach higher. The difference SSF has made in my life is inconceivable and eternal. Thank you SSF for ensuring my mother’s and grandmother’s peace of mind, and for allowing me the opportunity to be a sister that my little brother can look up to. I am forever grateful. Thank you.


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

“I can now focus on my academics & be the first in my family to graduate college.” – Jose Alvarez

School: University of Florida

House: Williams-Pilot Scholarship House

Year: 2015-Current

I am Jose Alvarez, a Family Youth and Community Sciences second year at the University of Florida. I currently reside in the Williams-Pilot Scholarship House. Getting into the University of Florida was a blessing itself. Coming from an underrepresented area, and as a minority it was very challenging to achieve my dreams. Not only was school difficult but also coming from a single-parent home, with very low income in the household, was an obstacle.  However, these life challenges have shaped the man I am now becoming. I have learned to be grateful for the smallest things in life.

Growing up in a single-parent home, and as the oldest all the responsibilities we placed upon my shoulders. Living in a small trailer my entire life was stressful, there were times where our electricity and/or water would go out and it would take several days to get fixed because of how old the trailer was. Growing up I couldn’t have the technology all my friends had because of my father’s income. I had to work with what I had. Graduating from high school made my dad proud, getting into the University of Florida made my dad even more proud, but Jose Alvarezreceiving the SSF scholarship? Proud was an understatement. The fact that I would be going to my dream school, and living RENT-FREE was a double blessing.  The Southern Scholarship Foundation has also played a role in my life as I continue to be shaped and molded as the individual I am at this stage in my life, living in such a diverse community has opened my mind. Coming from Hamilton County, one of the top ten poorest counties in Florida I was basically living in a “box”, where I was so used to seeing the same people over and over. SSF has exposed me to so many cultures and diversity.

It is because of the foundation that my 3 years at UF has been successful. Now a sophomore, I can’t thank individuals like yourself enough, for making it possible for me to make my dreams a reality. I am forever grateful for the continued support that I have been given by sponsors who really care about my future. Because of the foundation and sponsors, I can say that I am truly blessed. I no longer have to stress about finding a place to live while in college. I can now focus on my academics and succeed and be the first in my family to graduate college.  With that being said, I hope to start my own non-profit organization for the youth in my community and work my way into the other 9 poorest counties in Florida. I also plan to work in a juvenile detention center, and serve as a role model to the young men and women there.

Please consider making a gift this year to support the residence of Southern Scholarship, and most important, my family. Your investment in Southern Scholarship Foundation has and will continue to impact generations to come. Thank you for your generosity.


With thanks and appreciation,

Jose Alvarez, University of Florida


Answer Jose’s call to action by viewing our Ways to Give here: http://bit.ly/SSFWays2Give



“I knew that when I got to college I wanted to live in the Southern Scholarship Foundation.” – Sarah Stump

Ever since the beginning of my high school career I knew that when I got to college I wanted to live in the Southern Scholarship Foundation. I had two older sisters that were either living in SSF or starting there shortly. My parents and I put down deposits with on campus housing just as a back-up, but we were hoping I would be living in SSF just like my sisters. I have three older sisters and my parents weren’t able to completely financially support our college education. My sisters and I worked summer jobs and applied for scholarships to help pay for college but when my second oldest sister started living in SSF that changed our lives.

I thought I was prepared to live in SSF because I had 3 sisters and I was used to sharing tight spaces with them. My parents always made us help cook and clean, so I thought that would help me adjust to the SSF life. I also heard a lot of stories from my older sisters and was able to visit their houses many times. These experiences did not prepare me for the wonderful community of SSF.

WhenS.Stump vertical I first arrived at SSF I was really shy. I was intimidated by the other girls in my house because they were older and many of them had lived in the house for years. I thought that I wasn’t going to fit in or be friends with many of the girls in the house. But, as the semester went on I realized the treasure that my housemates were. As I got to hang out with the girls in my house, I was able to better appreciate them and their personalities. This appreciation made me realize that I wanted to be better friends with these girls and not just ‘housemates.’

This is the second year I have lived in SSF and I have been able to put myself out there and create the relationships in and out of my house that I always dreamed of. I can honestly say that the girls I live with are some of my best friends. They are the people I go to when I need advice on my outfit or someone to have a deep talk with. They are the people I sit on the couch with for five hours straight and watch TV.

This past year has also helped me to appreciate getting connected inside and out of my house. I want to help the girls in my house that may be shy like I was at first, to get out into the community of the foundation. Being able to meet and socialize with people from other houses and backgrounds is one of the greatest experiences in SSF.

Being involved in SSF has made me a better person and given me such great growing experiences .I have met and become friends with so many people that I never would have been able to meet because of SSF.  I’ve been able to volunteer in the office and get to know the staff better. I have even been able to meet some of the board members that so generously help this foundation run. I now have friendships that I never could have dreamed of. College is nothing like I expected it to be. It is better than I ever imagined because of SSF.

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

“Attending college was never a question, only a matter of how it would be funded.” – Brooke Williams

Name: Brooke Williams

School: University of Florida

House: Mack Tyner, Jr. Scholarship House

Year: Fall 2014 – Current


As I reminisce over the life experiences that I have faced (single parent home, very limited funds) and overcame to become the person I am today, it brings back many memories that I initially viewed as obstacles. I now realize those obstacles were stepping stones in shaping me into the person I am today: Brooke Chappelle Williams, a 20 yr. old sophomore, majoring in Public Relations at the University of Florida. Growing up in a single parent home in Orlando, and later moving to Tallahassee, Florida, I realized early my passion to be a servant leader (or my passion to serve). Optimistic, positive, inquisitive and eager to learn new things has always been a way of life for me. Attending college was never a question, only a matter of how it would be funded.


My mother always taught me that all things are possible if only you believe and work hard to achieve your goals. As a result, I developed a plan early to reach my initial goal of being able to attend college because I knew that college was not an option, but a necessity for me to succeed in life. This plan began in middle school, continued through high school, and even continues today. My plan consists of earning good grades, being very active in school and the community, and continuously researching scholarship opportunities. Striving for excellence in every endeavor, being a compassionate team player, having enthusiasm for new challenges, and being prepared to learn from success and failures along the way became a way of life for me.   Success is always good, but failure can be a wonderful thing too if the experience teaches you a life lesson. Failures often shattered my assumption of success and temporarily dismantled my confidence, but it also transformed me into the optimistic person I am today.  I have learned that nothing is guaranteed, no matter how much it is deserved or desired, and you do not become a failure until you do not have the courage to try again. I decided long ago not to be a failure but to learn from my experiences.

As a result of applying and winning Best and Brightest in the category of “Leadership” in the Leon County School district, I was awarded a Scholarship from the Southern Scholarship Foundation. Though I had received additional scholarships, without the scholarship I received from the Southern Scholarship Foundation, I would not be where I am today. Being a student and living in the Tyner-Mack Scholarship house for the last two years, has afforded me the opportunity of meeting wonderful students from all walks of life, and we have all become one large family. Having the responsibility of chores and having regular house meetings really keeps us all connected, and makes life away from home easier than I ever imagined.

What makes the SSF scholarship so remarkable and significant to me is the emphasis placed on the students’ needs and passions. My financial need is evident, but even more evident is my passion to fulfill my educational and career goals. As I relate back to the mission of Southern Scholarship Foundation, “Education for Life,” I envision lifelong lessons  not only in my classrooms and the community, but also inside the Mack Tyner and other scholarship houses. I am so thankful to be a resident of SSF and to have a community of individuals who support and love each other. I am grateful for the scholarship, my housemates and the priceless memories that I will forever cherish.

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


“You are never alone once you are accepted into the Southern Scholarship Foundation.” – Isrrael Peña

Name: Isrrael Peña (SSF Alumnus)

School: University of Florida

House: Williams

Year: Fall 2011 – Spring 2016

When I was younger my parents always stressed the importance of my education. During my upbringing, they persevered for their children and worked nine-to-five jobs to provide a decent life in this country. They came to the United States in 1993 as Mexican immigrants with only a third grade education.

I have been watching them all my life, never questioning their hardship. When I reached my senior year in high school, it became time to think about college. My parents were unable to sit down with me and talk about the college process. I felt without knowing, my parents were unable to guide me. Nonetheless, with the motivation of making my family proud, I sought help from advisers and teachers. I made lasting relationships with my community as I became highly involved in high school. I was integrating myself into my community as I volunteered in campus clubs, tutored after school for work and focused on excelling in my academics.

Israel blog photo

Because I knew that my parents were unable to afford my college education, I was motivated to apply for scholarships. I also started to consider attending a community college. I knew that I’d be the first in my family to move away from home for a higher education, so I wanted to take all the precautions to ensure I was successful. At the time, the University of Florida (UF) was my dream school. I wanted to be practical and attended Santa Fe College, a community college near UF, for my associate’s degree. I had toured Santa Fe College my junior year in high school and I noticed all the resources they offered their students to become successful and transfer over to the university.

Upon my last semester in high school, I received a call from Teresa Turner, the Director of Student Affairs for Central Florida. She was calling to tell me about my acceptance into the Southern Scholarship Foundation. I was so overjoyed from receiving her call that I ran circles around my mom and told her that I had somewhere to stay for school.


SSF was my anchor. I took on SSF with such an open mind and open heart that I knew I would be gaining more than just a place to stay. I created networks, friends and connections on and around campus. SSF nurtured me into the outspoken, confident man I am today. I became too familiar with the phrase “ties that bind” because living in SSF fostered brotherhood among the house I was placed in. We cared for one another’s success.

It is a wonderful experience to see your college brothers in their senior year graduate. You are never alone once you are accepted into the Southern Scholarship Foundation. I don’t know where I would be or who’d I become without my years in SSF. The friendships, the memories, and the continuous support that the foundation provided was a privilege and a blessing.

After graduating with my bachelor’s degree in Advertising, I wish to spend a year with my family. I have been away for too long and would like to enjoy the time I have with them before moving to California and working for advertising agencies there.

Sponsorship opportunities are available for you to be a part of Isrrael’s, and many others, Education for Life journey.

Learn more here: http://bit.ly/SSFSponsorship

“Living the life I lived growing up, we never really had a home, but I’m so thankful to say I have a home, and that my home is Tyner.” – Tiffany Walton

Name: Tiffany Walton (SSF Alumna)

School: University of Florida

House: Mack Tyner, Jr. Scholarship House

Year: Fall 2014 – Spring 2016

My name is Tiffany Jean Walton, and I am 19 years old, and I am from Jasper, FL. I live in the Mack Tyner Scholarship House in Gainesville, FL. Currently I am attending Santa Fe College as a linguistics major, and I will transfer to the University of Florida in the Spring of 2017. After graduating from the University of Florida, I plan to teach English to kids in other countries, and the main focus being in Central and South America.

Tiffany Walton

Growing up it was always my mom, my sister, my brother, and I, and we were always moving somewhere. We have been through the fire together, and we never gave up on each other.  My mom got pregnant with me when she was 18, and she had me when she was 19, and in the midst of her pregnancy my dad decided to walk out of her life, so one day when I was 9 years old, I decided I wanted to meet my real dad. I remember telling my mom “mama I want to meet my daddy”, and I remember her telling me “baby he is in prison, but you can write him a letter, but don’t be sad if you don’t get a letter back from him”. That same day I wrote a letter to send to this man I had never met in my life, my dad! I was so excited, and I waited to get a response, and soon I received a letter in the mail from him. I remember the excitement I felt that day, and we talked for months; however, shortly after we had contact, my mom and the man she had recently married separated, so I had no contact with my dad because we had to move out of the house. We moved into one of my mom’s friend’s house, and shortly after, I moved to my aunt’s house, and my brother and sister went to live with their dad, and my mom stayed at her friend’s house.

During all the chaos, I had to move with my younger brother and sister into their dad’s girlfriend’s house, and things where good for about a month and a half, and then their dad started being brutally abusive with my little brother and I. For 8 months I watched my little brother, who was 6 years old, being slammed into walls, punched in the stomach, choked, and so many other horrible things. For 8 months I cried, and would be snatched around by my hair, cussed at, and yelled at. I was so depressed, and I hated everyday that I was awake. I would call my mom everyday who at this point was in Colorado, and I would tell her “mama he beat us again today, and if he does it again I am going to kill myself”, and in the midst of all this, my mom called me on October 23, 2007 and told me my dad had died.

At that point so much was going on in my life that I was so numb to pain because I had grown such a tolerance for both physical and emotional pain. I remember saying to myself that night “wow, I never got to hug him, and see his face, and I will never have that opportunity”, and I went on about my life. As I grew older, I began noticing that I desired a father figure in my life, and I would see young girls with their dads, and I would always whisper to myself “I wonder what it feels like to have a man in your life who does not beat you, cuss at you, yell at you, and call you names, but instead he loves you, he takes care of you, he takes you on father-daughter dates, and he encourages you”. I never had this experience, but I am so thankful that some children do have these experiences.

Many things happened, and my sister, my brother, and I made it to Colorado to live with my mom, and a year and a half later we made it to Ft. Stockton, TX, and then back to Florida. I was in seventh grade when we moved back to Florida, and I was a crazy young girl. I was so bitter, hateful, aggressive, and I had many emotional issues. I went to a conference called Ski Invasion my 8th grade year of middle school. It was a Christian conference that my youth group at the time was attending, so I went with the intentions of hanging out, and maybe learning a little, but little did I know my whole life would change! One of the nights after the worship service, I gave my life to Jesus! Yes, I confessed with my mouth that Jesus is Lord, and I believed it in my heart! After the conference, I went back home, and I was discouraged because I knew I was going back to the same ole’ same ole’, and I thought man everything will be different, but it wasn’t. I began making the same choices I was making before I went the conference, but that all changed the summer after I finished eighth grade. During that summer, I was sitting in my room, and I remember so clearly the Holy Spirit told me “Tiffany, if you do not begin choosing to follow me and my ways, you are going to end up an alcoholic, a drug addict, in jail, and pregnant”, and ever since that day, my life has never been the same. I began to seek the Lord, and draw near to him, and he drew near to me. I began reading the Bible, and understanding who God really was, and I mean I sought after him with my whole heart. When I realized that I was now a child of the kingdom, I realized I was not fatherless anymore, but I had been adopted, and a price was paid for me, and I realized that what Jesus did on the cross was for people like me. I was so lost, broken, hurt, depressed, abandoned, bitter, angry, hateful, and just crushed by the things I had been through, but Jesus healed me of all those things. Jesus set me free, and I am free of the hurt, of the depression, of the abandonment, of the bitterness, of the hatefulness, of the weariness, and insecurity. Jesus mended my broken heart, and he made this girl brand new, and now by his grace and how he has loved me, I am loving, kind, caring, forgiving, joyful, peaceful, good, and I have self-control. Now I can love people unconditionally because of the love I have been given.

When I gave my life to Jesus, my whole perspective on life changed. I used to have no vision for myself, I told myself “I’ll stay in this town for the rest of my life, and settle down, and just do like everyone else I’m surrounded by because it’s the easy way”, but the Lord knew the plans he had for me, and my senior year of high school I prayed and asked the Lord “what do I do Lord?” because I did not want to stay in Jasper, so much stuff was happening, and I knew it would not be wise for me to stay there, and instantly the Lord began speaking to me about college, but I tried to ignore it for a while because I thought there was no way possible for me to go to college. I did not have finances for anything, not even to pay to send applications in to universities, and I was very discouraged by this. I thought “well, I’ll go into the military”, but the Lord instantly told me that was a no, so I scratched that out real quick.


My best friend and I were sitting at lunch one day talking and eating, and I asked her where did her brother live, and she told me SSF, and I asked her what it was, and she explained it vaguely to me. That day I went home, and I searched Southern Scholarship Foundation, and I read through the “about us link”, and I was so excited to have read what I read that day. I began praying and seeking the Lord for whether or not I should apply because I had never done anything like this before, and the Lord told me to apply, so I did. Time went on after getting all the information for the application done and turned in, and I remember checking my e-mail everyday for and e-mail from SSF, and I was so anxious and excited that it seemed like it took forever, and then eventually I was receiving e-mails from Mrs. Turner, and then soon enough I was scheduled for an interview. I went to the interview praying that I would make a good impression, and that I would get this scholarship. And I remember leaving saying “I wonder what Mrs. Turner thought of me?” because I knew if I did not get this scholarship, I would not be going to college, and the Lord gave me so much peace, and he told me “you do not need to worry, and you do not need to make a plan B because I know your needs, and you will get this scholarship”, so I was at peace, and soon enough I received an e-mail congratulating me on becoming part of the SSF family, and I remember jumping up and down, and being so excited because I knew this was my way out, and I knew now I would be going to college!

When I was given a tour after I was accepted, I was given my tour at Tyner, and I remember walking in, and my jaw dropped, and I was in complete awe. The beautiful light green walls, the beautiful dark brown leather couches, the dark brown shiny wooden tables, the huge bright and beautiful kitchen, the beautiful tile floor, and the glorious height of the house brought me so much excitement because it was what I imagined my future home always looking like. When I left, I kept picturing Tyner in my head, and I remember telling myself “I sure hope I live in that house, it is all I have ever wanted in a house”, and sure enough that was the house I was placed in, and I love living here. Being in SSF has helped me so much in my college life. Being a recipient of this scholarship has provided not only housing, food, utilities, and a comfortable bed to lay down in, but also a warm, loving, calm, peaceful atmosphere. I love coming home to a beautiful home and such loving ladies. Living the life I lived growing up, we never really had a home, but I’m so thankful to say I have a home, and that my home is Tyner.

Education for Life for me makes me think of two things, one of the two being the education one will receive while in college, and of course it can be used for life. The second thing Education for Life makes me think of is the education one will receive for life while living in SSF that no college/university can teach. There are certain things in life that you have to experience because no individual can teach it.

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