GRU is hosting benefit banquet


Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 2:27 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 2:27 p.m.

Help raise scholarship funds for a deserving minority student in Alachua County to go to college during the 3rd annual GRU Brighter Tomorrow Scholarship Banquet.

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Actor, best-selling author and philanthropist Hill Harper will be the keynote speaker at the 3rd annual GRU Brighter Tomorrow Scholarship Banquet. (Special to the Guardian)

Facts

SCHOLARSHIP BANQUET

What: The 3rd annual GRU Brighter Tomorrow Scholarship Banquet.
When: 3-5 p.m. May 19.
Where: Hilton UF Conference Center, 1714 SW 34th St.
Tickets: $50; deadline is May 14.
Information: Call 352-393-1207 or email cartersy@gru.com.

The benefit banquet will be held from 3-5 p.m. May 19 at the Hilton UF Conference Center at 1714 SW 34th St. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased online by visiting www.gru.com and clicking on “Scholarship Banquet Tickets Available.” The deadline to purchase tickets is May 14.

Brighter Tomorrow scholarships will be awarded to Alachua County high school seniors who want to pursue an engineering degree at the University of Florida by enrolling in UF upon graduation or attending Santa Fe College before transferring to UF.

Last year, four scholarships were awarded, totaling $16,000 in educational support.

“Our goal is to give at least four scholarships,” said Nona C. Jones, director of community and government relations at GRU and founder of the Brighter Tomorrow Scholarship program, adding that the number of scholarships awarded will depend on proceeds raised at the banquet. Entertainment will be provided by Hartley Leacock & the Collective Format Band, a Gainesville smooth jazz band.

The keynote speaker will be Hill Harper, an actor, best-selling author, philanthropist and founder of the Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, which is dedicated to empowering under-served youth through mentorship, scholarship and grant programs. Harper is best known for his portrayal of Dr. Sheldon Hawkes in the CBS drama, “CSI: NY.”

Jones said Harper will speak about what the community can do to create a brighter future for students who need help and financial support.

“He has dedicated his life to helping young people succeed,” said Jones. “He wants to ensure at-risk children have opportunities and have the right mindset to succeed.”

Jones said Simon and Verna Johnson, founders and directors of Sharing and Caring Learning School, a charter school in the Sugarhill area, will be honored with the Legacy Award for a long history of creating educational opportunities for young children. “They have dedicated their life to education,” said Jones, “and clearly deserve the award.”

Jones said the purpose of the scholarship program is to increase the number of Gainesville area minority students choosing engineering as their career. “STEM subjects, and specifically engineering, are the career paths of the future,” Jones said. “GRU recognizes that. In order for underrepresented groups to compete in the global workforce competition, we must be proactive in exposing children to these careers and preparing them to succeed.”

Jones said the Education Foundation of Alachua County, which partners with GRU by streamlining the application process, has a standard application it uses to easily identify students who meet the criteria for the Brighter Tomorrow Scholarship Program.

Some of the criteria for the scholarships include being an underrepresented minority student, preferably a first-generation college student; being accepted into UF or SF College; planning to pursue a major in civil, computer, electrical, environmental or mechanical engineering; and financial need.

Scholarship recipients also are granted an internship that begins once they complete their first year of college. She said the program also includes the EngiNEAR You Educational Outreach Initiative to expose elementary, middle and high school students to the UF College of Engineering through class activities hosted by engineering students from UF.

“The Brighter Tomorrow program begins this process in elementary school and creates a pipeline that culminates with employment as a GRU engineer,” Jones said. “We're encouraging those that can, create a brighter future for our youth by mentoring, volunteering and supporting events like this banquet.”

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