“Circumstances I have endured in my life… allowed me to realize my true purpose” – Gabby Dawkins

School: Florida A&M University
Year: Fall 2012 – Fall 2015
House: Florida Retail Federation

My name is Gabrielle Dawkins and I am a Broadcast Journalism student at FAMU. I enjoy quality time with family, I am a dedicated worker, and I try to maintain peace and happiness throughout my hectic life.

When SSF asked me what situation helped shape me into me, I found it hard to answer. I could not pinpoint a specific life experience that has impacted me; instead it was more a collection of experiences and people that have made me the person I am today.

There are many circumstances I have endured in my life that have allowed me to realize my true purpose. Anchoring in elementary school for the morning news announcement at Watkins Elementary opened up the world of media to me. This early opportunity helped prepare me for my future endeavor of anchoring at FAMU News 20 at Five, an on-campus news station with a live production three times a week that airs to over 80,000 households in Tallahassee and South Georgia! I gained more great media experience from this position, learning how to create and edit videos, interview people from all walks of life, and work with a team to produce a well-balanced show.

The skill set that I have acquired within my field and life were not self taught. I have the most amazing role models that continue to steer me in the right direction. My parents, Mr. Bowers, Professor Jones, and my close friends are the ones that keep me grounded, and truly liberate and empower me to do better in every area of my life.

There are so many more situations that have shaped me: the passing of my grandmother showed me to truly cherish life and value my family, my study abroad experience in China humbled me by causing me to realize the things we take for granted in America, and growing up while being responsible for my little brother and not having everything I wanted taught me a strong work ethic and the value of a dollar. Who I am is bigger than one story; it is thousands of stories and experiences each honing and preparing me for the next.


To learn more about SSF visit our website, or if you’re interested in sponsoring a resident, click here to learn more. Look for our next #SSFStories post on January 22nd!


“I live in the Gresham-Kite Pilot House and I love it!” – Brittany Thompson

School: Florida Gulf Coast University
Year: Senior
House: Gresham-Kite Pilot

My name is Brittany Thompson from Port Charlotte, Florida. I live in the Gresham-Kite Pilot House and I love it!

When I was a senior in high school I went through the college financial aid search and I applied to a myriad of scholarships. Anything I could find. When I spoke with my high school guidance counselor about other opportunities, she handed me an application for Southern Scholarship Foundation. There are moments were a seemingly random act changes the course of your life forever, this was one of those moments.

She shared more about SSF and their program and said it would be a great opportunity for me if I were accepted. I was really excited about it and applied, hoping things would work out. As the process for preparing for college continued I was faced with a difficult decision. I was accepted into three schools and I had to choose where I would pursue my degree.

I really wanted to go to FGCU, but money was tight and I needed to see which scholarships afforded me the best opportunities. When I received word that I was accepted to the scholarship house at FGCU, I was ecstatic! I immediately called my guidance counselor to share the great news. She was also excited and told me that I was one of only a few students who were accepted to the Gresham-Kite Pilot House.

The years I have lived in this house have not just been years, but part of my story, part of my life. I have made some very important decisions in this house. I have made some amazing friendships with the awesome girls in this house. I have had the opportunity to pursue my dreams in this house. I am very honored and privileged to live in Southern Scholarship Foundation’s Gresham-Kite Pilot House. #SSFLove

Blog Pic 1

Look for our next #SSFStories post on January 8th! Happy Holidays from SSF!

“Growing up, I experienced two divorces and six moves” – Catlin Cade

School: University of Florida
Year: Graduate Student
House: Hansen

Growing up, I experienced two divorces and six moves. I became envious of “normal” families where the dad was present in the home. I also envied them for their higher socioeconomic status and I dreamed of being a part of a family that was financially stable and living under one roof. It was not until a trip to Haiti that my eyes were opened to all that I really had.In the summer of 2012, I flew to Haiti with my church group. The plan was to have Vacation Bible School (VBS) during the day and lead church services in the evenings for five days. The experience that impacted me the most was visiting an orphanage to bring children of all ages dental supplies and hygiene products. When we arrived, some of the children were without clothes and eating small portions of rice. Once all the children were gathered in one room, we were able to give them paper and stickers to color and decorate. Access to stickers or any games was rare for them. One girl, who was around the age of two, began to cry unexpectedly. I tried to console her, but noticed an untreated sore on her leg. Fortunately, I was able to cover it with Neosporin and a Band-Aid that I had in my backpack. The crying stopped immediately. From that moment to the end of our time at the orphanage, we were inseparable. When I had to leave, it was my turn to cry. I knew I would never see her again.

Our last day in Haiti was just as hard for me. I went to sleep feeling like so little had been done. We were returning to our life of luxury when the people in Haiti still needed more homes, food and clean water. 
Haiti changed my life. It increased my cultural awareness and opened my eyes to true poverty in the world. Haiti has given me a deep desire to help populations in poverty-stricken areas. I plan to do this one day by educating teachers and school counselors to help improve their education systems. 
Haiti also gave me a new appreciation for my family and life in America. There are times I feel guilty and even unworthy for all that I have. Then, I remember I have been given what I have in order to give to others. Philippians 2:3 states, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Imagine how different our world would be if everyone put that into practice. One can make difference. It starts with you.
 10822427_10205350595068754_1952324227_n (1)

“Coming into college, I had no idea what to expect” – Nicholas Farmer

School: Santa Fe College
Year: Sophomore
House: Hartman-Kiwanis

Coming into college, I had no idea what to expect. I heard horror stories about professors, awful roommates, and gross food. Saying that I was nervous when I came up for my interview was an understatement. I knew that this was make or break. The only way that I would be able to attend college away from home and pursue my dreams, was to live at Southern Scholarship Foundation.

A little while later, I received the wonderful news that I had been accepted and placed in the Hartman-Kiwanis Scholarship House. I was nervous about the new environment at first, but as I met the men of the house and grew closer to each of them, my outlook changed. Two seniors, Joel Brown and Chase Chambers, immediately took me under their wings. These two young men had no reason to drag a young and constantly questioning freshman around with them everywhere they went, but they did.

These two are the type of guys that have literally given the jackets off of their backs, for those in need, and never expect anything in return. I remember one time, after just a few weeks of knowing each other, Joel took care of me during an unbearable migraine, coupled with muscle cramps, and vomiting. He cut up fruit, made a gallon of Gatorade, and held me up when my legs would no longer support my own body. He didn’t leave my side. This kind of friendship is rare. Through Joel and Chase’s servant leadership, I learned more about life and people than any class in college could ever teach me. They would continuously inspire me and encourage me in all that I did. Joel and Chase were the older brothers that I never had. Everything they did, was to make me better. Although they have both moved on to grad school in different locations, I believe that their legacy lives out through me.

I cannot express enough how much the people I have met in this organization have positively impacted and changed my life. My goal is to be to others, what Joel and Chase were to me. They have inspired me to be a leader and make a difference. I now serve as an ambassador for SSF, as well as, Santa Fe College and get the opportunity to pour my life into others every single day. I’ll never be able to truly express or truly thank these amazing guys for the impact that they have made on my life. Similarly, I will never be able to express my sincere gratitude towards Southern Scholarship Foundation for the opportunities which have blessed my life. This is truly an Education for Life.

Be sure to follow us (button on the bottom right) to read our next SSF Story on December 4th.

To learn more about SSF visit our website, or if you’re interested in sponsoring a resident, click here.

“I Lost My Voice” – Carolina Ruggero

School: Florida State University
Year: Junior

House: Lastinger

 I vividly remember the day I lost my voice. My father was at the house that night, and I sat directly across from him at the dinner table as my mother paced across the kitchen, mumbling words in Spanish that neither he nor I could understand. I do not remember what we were fighting about, but I do recall my dad attempting to reason with her, “she just wants to tell you how she feels.”

That night, like many others, my mother dismissed not only my tears, but also my voice. I persuaded myself that if the very person who gave birth to me did not care about what I had to say, then nobody did. Disregarding my feelings proved to be destructive; my emotions were bottled and my relationships lackluster. Some people could express themselves, whereas I thought myself to be simply incapable. I thought I was just different or misunderstood. I foolishly listened to an inner voice and assured myself that I did not need anyone, so I never sought consolation.

Those were the loneliest years of my life, yet I have neither anger nor resentment. I would not trade those years for anything. The comfort I found in those who understood what I was going through overshadow the nights I felt completely alone. I know when I am experiencing true happiness because of my familiarity with depression. My vision to inspire those who are struggling is solidified when I remember the years my heart ached.
I am a firm believer that every voice is important and that everyone has a story to tell. In April 2014, I decided to start a video series of my own called Tell Your Story: Tallahassee (TYST).

Stories of our lives have the potential to engage, educate, and inspire an audience. The beauty of stories is that every single person has one. Everyone has gone through something that has made them who they are today – and they are all equally compelling and complicated as the next. My hope is that sharing stories will humanizes people and encourages us not to just tolerate, but to make an effort to truly accept and understand one another.
Be sure to follow us (button on the bottom right) to hear our next SSF Story on November 20th.

To learn more about SSF visit our website, or if you’re interested in sponsoring a resident, click here.

Introducing SSF Stories

Welcome to SSF Stories, a new media platform that will feature our residents and alumni. It will allow a glimpse into their lives as they share their stories. While we frequently showcase our #SSFStars who are doing and accomplishing amazing things, this blog will allow  our Stars, past and present, to tell their stories in their own words.


We hope this platform becomes a booming voice to the SSF community to teach us how to appreciate our diversity, learn from our mistakes, celebrate our successes, and inspire us to greatness in our Education for Life pursuits!


Note: The thoughts and ideas expressed in these stories do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Southern Scholarship Foundation.

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