Currently living in New York City, Apolonia Villanueva attended Florida A&M University where she received her bachelor’s and master’s in social work. As a member of the #SSFfamily she lived in the Hansen, Lundquist, Pilot and FL Retail scholarship houses where she met amazing friends and enjoyed cooking, hanging out and playing pranks with her housemates. As a first-generation college student, Apolonia did not have the family assistance to aid her through college journey, so SSF was pivotal, “SSF allowed me to have affordable living while attending college and I was assured to have a hot meal during the week.”

After graduating, Apolonia put her degrees in social work to use, working with child welfare to the geriatric population, focusing on Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Her profession has also allowed her to be a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her degree has laid the foundation for her to do the work that she was created to do, and in August she is heading to school to pursue a second master’s degree in Divinity at either Yale Divinity School or Howard Divinity School. Her ultimate desire is to become an itinerant minister and full-time pastor!

Her greatest accomplishment so far is becoming the founder of Gowns for HER, a nonprofit that promotes self-esteem, self-worth, and self-value by providing gowns to underserved girls in local communities at no cost! Gowns for HER was founded in 2017 and currently operates in parts of Texas, Florida, and New York. You can learn more about them at

SSF taught Apolonia many lessons that are still impactful today, “Consideration for others was a lesson I learned at SSF. Since we had roommates, we had to be considerate about what we did and there were house rules that helped to enforce how we were supposed to conduct ourselves. SSF, also afforded me the opportunity to learn how to embrace people from different backgrounds and upbringings.”