For high school graduates from low-income and middle-class families who believe college isn’t an option, the Lewis Foundation says think again. The charitable organization announced Tuesday, the expansion of its scholarship program to the University of Central Florida (UCF). It will now offer full scholarships – tuition, room and board and textbooks – to all majors, not just hospitality and tourism degree-seeking undergraduates. “Due to the overwhelming response by persons looking to study other fields it only made sense to open the opportunity to all disciplines, said Lewis Foundation spokesperson Andrica Smith-Munroe.
“In doing so, we hope to ensure more students have access to higher education.” A year’s search for would-be hospitality and tourism majors revealed Bahamian students weren’t satisfying academic requirements for Orlando’s hometown university. Despite high GPAs and solid Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) results many applicants possessed no or low Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores, a US-based test which evaluates a student’s college readiness. While the Lewis Foundation referred several bright minds to the university for consideration, those applicants were turned down for admission. Consequently, thousands of dollars in scholarship funds have yet to be awarded. “It is important to note that because SAT/ACT exams are not priority in our school system the exam is treated as an afterthought. As a result, a candidate may have a strong transcript, but subpar SAT/ACT scores that count against them,” said Mrs. Smith-Munroe.
“We can only recommend to Bahamian students interested in attending American universities to take note of the requirements needed to be successfully admitted. Of course, do well in secondary school and BGCSEs, but also have strong SAT/ACT scores.” A major metropolitan research institution, UCF is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as Florida’s most innovative university and one of the nation’s top 20 most innovative. With 13 colleges, including a College of Medicine, UCF offers more than 220-degree programs. To be eligible for scholarships students must be able to provide proof of Bahamian citizenship, acceptance into UCF and demonstrate financial need. First-generation college students, whose parents did not attend a tertiary institution, will be given preference. For up to five successful applicants, the scholarship is renewable up to eight semesters based on UCF’s good academic standing requirements. Potential candidates are asked to email their interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.