School: Florida State University, Santa Fe College, and University of Florida
With two duffel bags in tow, I started my SSF journey, joining 20 housemates at Tallahassee’s BPW House. My roommate Patty hailed from a small North Florida town with one stop sign and a Dairy King, a far cry from my urban hometown, Miami. The other women had diverse backgrounds and interests, giving me my first taste of opera, fried chicken from scratch, and step shows. They taught me to maneuver the challenges of our pre-internet dial-in class registration system, financial aid, tough professors and final exams.
While living at the house was great, FSU’s country setting didn’t fit me, and my grades started to slip. Attending anything other than a 4-year institution was not allowed at the time, but the SSF president conditionally approved my transfer to Santa Fe Community College if I could enroll at UF within a year. I did. After graduating with Honors with my AA degree, I exuberantly took my place in the Gator Nation. I loved life at UF and the Badcock House, where studying was balanced with swing dancing, football, intramural soccer, and “secret snowflake” gift exchanges with friends like Julie, Mandy, Shannon, Nicole, Lisa, and Cheryl. Fueled by the house cook/clean crew’s endless array of chicken dinner recipes, I worked at Baby Gator preschool and focused on my psychology major.
Soon after, the new Director of Student Affairs for Central Florida, Teresa Turner, joined SSF. Under her leadership, I became Head Resident at the Hansen House, surrounded by Gretta’s art projects, Erica and Jaclyn’s Golden Girls devotion, and Clara and Glenda’s love of animals. I graduated summa cum laude after completing a senior thesis in developmental psychology advised by Dr. Keith Berg. I then moved to a social justice program in New York City to apply that degree. I eventually earned a Master’s degree focused on prevention research (and just started a Ph.D!) and spent many years working with organizations dedicated to underserved at-risk youth.
I recently started my own consulting business to provide grant writing, program evaluation, and intervention design to youth-focused organizations. Through the years, I’ve also worked to support my community, serving on boards and projects of LGBT organizations. In fact, a few years ago, I met up with the current SSF president Mickey Moore to make sure that SSF’s newer policies provided welcome to LGBT students. They do, and better still, I’m working with Mickey and Amber (their Director of Development) to establish SSF funding for LGBTQ/allies and others who celebrate diversity. I also hope the funding will honor the legacy of Teresa Turner, whose warmth and love support so many SSF students from various backgrounds. I’m proud to support today’s SSF students pursue their educational dreams, just like I did years ago. Go forth and make your mark!
Lisa is one of the many students who have been impacted by our now 61 year legacy of providing rent-free housing scholarships to deserving students. Learn more about this legacy and discover new ways to contribute to our future by clicking here.