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Thursday, May 23, 2024

UF scholarship recipients will have the opportunity to officially become a part of the university’s recorded history.

This month, the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program began interviewing students who were awarded the Florida Opportunity Scholarship. These first-generation college students would otherwise not have been able to attend college due to the financial burden, and in the interviews they discuss the impact the scholarship has had on their lives.

Paul Ortiz, director of the program, said he plans to make these interviews a regular part of the program’s work. Interviews will be digitized and available at the George A. Smathers Library and as podcasts on iTunes.

“The Florida Opportunity Scholars personify what the University of Florida is all about,” he said. “We are an institution devoted to equality, and that is one of the reasons the oral history project is proud to be a part of this endeavor.”

Leslie Pendleton, director of the Florida Opportunity Scholars Program, said there are about 1,400 first-generation college students who currently receive the scholarship.

It was Pendleton’s idea to record the histories of scholars.

“I think having them documented with the rest of the university’s oral histories helps them be a part of the living history of UF,” she said.

Pendleton then helped identify students like Shelby Powell to be a part of the project.

Powell, a 23-year-old from Palm Bay, was one of the first students to receive the Florida Opportunity Scholarship and graduated in 2010.

In his interview, Powell talked about what his life would have been like without the scholarship.

“I think when you give a group of individuals an opportunity they otherwise wouldn’t have had, it’s bound to produce a story,” he said. “The stories you get through FOS are very different than stories you would hear from a family that has generations of UF scholars.”

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