FGCU rolls out red carpet for Clewiston Collegiate Academy students

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Brandie Guasp
Florida Gulf Coast University rolled out the red carpet on Nov. 26 for Clewiston High School’s Collegiate Academy students where an information filled and fun day was had by all.

FORT MYERS — Florida Gulf Coast University rolled out the red carpet on Nov. 26 for Clewiston High School’s Collegiate Academy students where an information filled and fun day was had by all. Forty students and parents attended the event which was coordinated by FGCU’s Office of Community Outreach. FGCU’s Admissions and Financial Aid offices, their Honors College, and their Office of Community Outreach all made informative presentations, the students and parents were treated to a campus tour and dinner, and then all were invited to attend an FGCU basketball game.

The program began with JWebb Horton, the director of FGCU’s Office of Community Outreach, explaining to students that one of FGCU’s strengths was its smaller size, which gave university administration an opportunity to get to know students better. “We are all like family here,” he explained, “and so when you’re in need of something, you just reach out to me or a member of my office and we’ll be there to help.”

Next up were Jessica Delgado, scholarship coordinator, and Alexander Mortenson, the local recruiter, for FGCU’s Office of Admissions. They discussed FGCU’s Merit Scholarships including the collegiate scholarship which offers CHS Collegiate students $15,000 over three years. They also discussed FGCU’s 62 undergraduate and 25 graduate programs and university housing which they described as being ranked amongst the top in the state. Students especially liked that rather than shared rooms, each student had a door to their own room affording them the privacy which is at a premium in dormitory life.

Michelle Gonzalez, the assistant director of financial aid and Elizabeth Longwell, a financial aid specialist then spoke with students about FGCU’s Foundation Scholarship, the Florida State Aid & Bright Futures Scholarship, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation Scholarship, and of the importance of completing their FAFSA applications as quickly as possible.

Tracie Beck, from FGCU’s Honors College, then explained the requirements and benefits of enrolling in the college. She shared that the program had grown from 400 to 1,200 students in the past few years due to a renewed emphasis from the university administration. Students were especially interested in the honors college’s travel abroad experiences in Peru, England, South Africa, Greece and Italy.

Coursean Thomas, an FGCU senior graduating this month with his bachelor’s degree in biology, then gave the group a tour of the campus. He described a floor in the health sciences building which allowed students to interact with bionic patients and showed the students the mock financial trading desk in the business building which was made to emulate what students might see or use on the New York Stock Exchange. “One of the greatest benefits of FGCU”, he explained, “is that since we are a newer school, we are able to take advantage of some of the latest updates in technology in the careers and fields within which we study.”

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Students were treated to a FGCU basketball game.

From there the students were provided dinner and then invited to attend a basketball game in Alico Arena. The arena is in the middle of one FGCU’s student housing centers, North Lake Village. Outside of the arena FGCU students played pickup basketball and tennis and a sizable group of also participated in LARPing. The energy in the arena was frenetic with a sizable local crowd wearing all white due to the scheduled whiteout. Our students sat in the student area of the arena and as such took advantage of all of its benefits including being right on the floor behind one of the baskets, making noise as the visiting Panthers’ players shot foul shots, and a large number of them came away with FGCU swag like t-shirts and backpacks. In the end, the hometown Eagles defeated the Florida Tech Panthers 73 to 59 in front of their enthusiastic crowd.

All of the participating students and parents were extremely appreciative of JWebb Horton, the director of FGCU’s Office of Community Outreach, and Crystal Maldonado, the coordinator, for all of the time and effort that they put into coordinating this event. CHS Collegiate junior, Aaron Ramirez, explained that while he was on the fence before the visit, that he was really beginning to see himself as an FGCU Eagle as he came away from the visit; a sentiment that most of the attendees shared.

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