Name: Elisa Gomez
School: Florida State University
House: Pilot Scholarship House
My name is Elisa Gomez, I am a fourth year Family and Child Science major at Florida State University. I was born in Medellin, Colombia where I lived until I was only four years old. My parents were forced to face the reality that my sister and I would receive only the minimal education if we continued to live in a country with such little opportunity. Without much thought, my parents took a leap of faith and decided to leave behind everything they had ever known – our family, friends and their jobs – in hopes of my sister and I earning an education and of someday attaining the American dream. It was not long before my parents dream soon became mine, too!
We were fortunate enough to find a home away from home in Safety Harbor, Florida where I spent the next 13 years of my life. I was blessed to spend these years in a home with two loving parents, an older sister who never failed to show me “love” by always picking on me and a strong support system from all of the educators who I encountered along the way. I am confident to say that all of those whom have crossed my path, are those who have pushed me and shaped me to be who I am today.
My father always told my sister and I that an education would be our one-way ticket to a successful future. At a young age, I never fully understood the meaning behind his intentions of instilling the value of education within us. As a first generation student, I did not always believe that I would have the opportunity to attend a university due to the cost of tuition, housing and food. To me, it was an unrealistic, unattainable dream that you only see in the movies. “That will never be me”, I thought. That’s when I heard about The Southern Scholarship Foundation, and my life was changed forever.
At the age of 17, I packed my bags and took my own leap of faith when I moved into my new home away from home- the La Verne Weddle Pilot Scholarship house in Tallahassee, Florida. The feeling was overwhelming to say the least. I was shy and afraid but I could not ignore the feeling of being so loved and comforted by my new 20 Pilot sisters. My experience at SSF has been an adventure, and I am living proof that it is truly an “Education for Life”. If you knew me, you could see how much I have learned here by observing my cooking patterns. I have expanded my horizons past scrambled eggs and toast and have upgraded to a routine breakfast of egg, humus, avocado and cheese sandwich. Fancy, I know! Of course, this isn’t the only thing that I have learned. Living with 20 other hardworking, ambitious and likeminded women has allowed me to feel a sense of empowerment. We motivate and challenge each other to be better versions of ourselves each and every day. Being a part of the SSF community is an opportunity like no other, and the #SSFLove is so real. I have always heard the saying “Home is where the heart is”, and that for me is here at SSF.
The journey was not easy, and it did not come overnight. My family and I have experienced our highest highs when everything seemed to be just right, just as we have also experienced our lowest lows when the future seemed so unclear. To this day – almost 17 years after our big move – we continue to push forward, because our story has just begun. I continue to thank God for all of those who have been there for the journey, especially those who have made attending college a reality, and not just something I saw in the movies. My time here at SSF plays a huge role in my journey to becoming a future healthcare professional. Because of SSF, my sister, an SSF alumna, and I, a soon to be alumna, will both have graduated debt free! This is more than any opportunity my parents could have ever imagined for my sister and I prior to immigrating to the United States 17 years ago.