Scholarship Fair offers wealth of information

Published: Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 3:02 p.m.

Local families received valuable information about college scholarships and other sources of financial aid to help students interested in going to college at the first ever Scholarship Fair as a part of this year's King Celebration.

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Diamond Phillips, 17, and Alexander Albritton, 16, review the winning portfolio of the 2009 Edna M. Hart Keeper of the Dream Scholarship Award at the High School Scholarship Fair sponsored by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission of Florida Inc.

CAITLIN HEALY/Special to the Guardian

Close to 100 people attended the three-hour Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida Scholarship Fair held last Saturday afternoon at the King Center.

Several organizations were on hand to inform people about the scholarships they offer and about other sources of financial aid.

They all said it was important for students to ask their high school guidance counselors about the many scholarships available and to search the Internet vigorously for other scholarship sources.

Dr. G.W. Mingo, the president of the local chapter of the Florida A&M University Alumni Association, and Jessie Heard, a fellow member of the association, were on hand to inform students how they can apply for one of four $1,000 scholarships the association will award this year.

"We also have a handout here identifying the top 12 reasons to attend Florida A&M," Mingo said. "We also want them to find out about the different deadlines that are approaching for admissions and financial aid for the upcoming school year."

Debra Fields, scholarship chairperson for the alumnae chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., said she was on hand to inform students about the five to eight scholarships her organization gives out annually and to encourage parents and students to be aware of the eligibility requirements for funding sources such as the Florida Academic Scholar, the Florida Medallion Scholar and the Gold Seal Vocational Scholar scholarships, all a part of the Bright Futures scholarship.

Alphonso L. Johnson, who was on hand to represent Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., said the fraternity awards three $3,500 scholarships annually to qualified male seniors from Alachua County.

Gwendolyn Saffo, the president of the alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., said her organization will be giving out four $1,000 scholarships again this year just like it has done in past years.

Dr. Karen Cole-Smith, executive director of the office of Community Outreach and the East Gainesville Initiative at Santa Fe College, said local high schools deserve a lot of credit for informing students about the scholarships that are available. She said more events like the scholarship fair can only help those efforts.

Cole-Smith said scholarship opportunities at Santa Fe can be obtained by visiting

Gainesville resident Yvette Clarke came to the scholarship fair with her son, Eastside High School senior Marcus Clarke, and they both said they were pleased with the information they received.

"We received information about meeting deadlines, scholarships and tuition costs," Yvette Clarke said. "We are leaving with more knowledge and information than we came with."

For more information, students should contact their school guidance counselors about all scholarships that are available from organizations in the community.

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