Miami is often mentioned during the Atlantic hurricane season. The southernmost U.S. metropolis, like much of the Caribbean, is in the path of several tropical storms or hurricanes in any given year.
Thus, for students at south Florida colleges and universities, the fall semester is more than the beginning of a new academic year, it’s peak hurricane season. Thus, PLAN!T NOW’s Hurricane Relief Scholarship Program has expanded this year to reach students in the Miami-Dade storm zone through a tuition grant called the P!N Dreamkeepers award. Offered through an alliance with Scholarship America, the 2010 P!N Dreamkeepers fund will gift four $2,500 tuition grants to students at Miami Dade Community College (MDC) who hope to continue their education but have faced unexpected financial hardships.
This year, the scholarships are designated for students of Haitian descent or those studying weather sciences that will advance storm preparedness work.
“In addition to helping coastal communities’ immediate preparedness needs, P!N believes that addressing long-term, preparedness planning is crucial. Investing in students in these communities builds human capital, and is one of our favorite examples of effective, durable planning,” said P!N President, Donna Lee.
Martine Fleurius, a Haitian student, was accepted into the honors college at MDC, an academic honor that pays for many of her schools costs. She said further financial aid to Haitians through programs like the Dreamkeepers scholarship will not only help students’ educational goals but can go toward improving her home country. Her journey has allowed her to take advantage of circumstance and her academic strengths to allow her to attend Cornell University’s Biology and Sociology program this fall.
“I came to Miami three years ago from Haiti,” she said. “My mother is Haitian … she was trying to provide a good education for me. My dad lived [in Miami], and through him I got to go there. I felt it was my duty to learn the language, learn English, so I went through an [English for Academic Purposes] program for one year, and applied to the honors college. I was accepted for the school and it’s been a good ride.
“I think [the Dreamkeepers scholarship] will really help. I have some other friends who want to go to school, but they aren’t able to pay for it. They don’t know what else to apply for. It will help them get an education, not only in the U.S. but to reach their other goals. … I have family and friends in Haiti who, they look up to you. You have more responsibility, not only to them but to others. After the earthquake that happened this year they are looking to you, your responsibility to help. One of my plans is to create a research center in Haiti, to use my contacts at Cornell and elsewhere. I also want to build libraries and bring more education there.”
The Dreamkeepers scholarship will award students like Martine Fleurius, and in so doing, sow seeds that will turn today’s toughest storm preparedness questions into proven answers. For more information on the scholarship, visit: http://bit.ly/aTa8bk.