Name: Tayla Stewart
School: Florida State University
Year: Fall 2014-Present
House: FAMU-Hansen, FSU-McKaig-Malthouse, FAMU- Florida Retail
My name is Tayla Stewart and I am first-generation college student from Tampa, Florida. For me, attending college was never an option; it was the only choice I had to succeed. Because of that, I learned to dedicate myself to my academics and it soon became quite natural to me. I knew that my family had always relied on me and that I had to be the difference, beating every statistic sought out against me. During my junior and senior year of high school, I applied to many scholarships and colleges around the country. The various applications were a bit overwhelming, especially doing it all by myself. Though I got accepted into some great schools such as Howard University, Spelman College, The University of South Florida, Florida International University and many other public institutions, my heart was always set on going to Florida State. Having been raised in a pre-dominant ethnic environment my entire life, I wanted an opportunity to get out of my “comfort zone”. After I completed the CARE Summer Bridge Program in 2013, I experienced an amazing culture shock. Florida State had without a doubt, gotten me out of my comfort zone like I wanted.
Southern Scholarship Foundation has been a similar experience for me. When I first got accepted into SSF, I had no idea of the things I would experience. My journey in SSF has not always been easy. When I first became a resident of the Hansen House, I had to ride two buses to Florida State each day. I faced so many obstacles transitioning into SSF and having to live with so many young women. Obstacles such as feeling unfavorably on authority and not knowing how to communicate effectively, ended in me not resolving my problems in the best way. Even through the depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation and sickness of my sophomore year, I was able to overcome my first fall in SSF and FSU. During the second half of my sophomore year in the McKaig-Malthouse, I finally learned how to handle conflict, to not judge others, and to make sure my voice is always heard.
As an upcoming senior, I have learned to appreciate SSF for the blessing that it serves in my life. Attending college is a short-period in every one’s life, so why allow one small conflict ruin your whole experience? Some college students can’t afford their rent and are struggling to afford food for every meal of the day. So, I learned to look at having to clean the kitchen or cook for my housemates one day each week as something minor. Not to mention, SSF residents even have the opportunity to opt out of certain work-jobs when they run for officer positions within the house.
While my journey in SSF has been a tumultuous one, I learned to make the most out of my experience and to live out each day in faith. To prospective SSF students, I encourage you to remember one thing that our current DSA Barby told me during an extremely difficult time, “SSF is a community.”