FAU Launches Program To Help Low-Income, First-Generation Students Graduate Debt Free



BOCA RATON (CBSMiami) – Florida Atlantic University has launched a program to combat the startling statistic that 89 percent of low-income, first-generation students will leave college without a degree.

Cecilia Peters is a role model, guidance counselor and cheerleader to FAU students Luz Brito and Valeria Tineo.

“She’s kind of like a mom away from home,” said Tineo. “I call her and I’m like, ‘I need help with this… I need some advice, I need some guidance.’ And we go to our office. Actually, we call it our office, our office is the Barnes and Nobles across the street.”

Brito and Tineo are sophomores in the Kelly Strul Emerging Scholars Program created by President John Kelly and first lady Carolyn Kelly, as well as Boca Raton philanthropists Aubrey and Sally Strul, in 2017.

The scholarship funds and provides support to students who are the first-generation in their families to go to college. Fifty percent are from a different country.

“Luz was my Cuban who was so shy,” said Peters. “Now we have to ask her to quiet down.”

The program centers on pairing the scholars with a knowledgeable, energetic mentor like Peters, whose advice lasts the entire four years.

“They are truly just uninformed about the culture and what to do and how to navigate college life,” said Peters.

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