At the State Board of Education meeting at the end of last week, Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart presented Florida College System Chancellor Madeline Pumariega with more than $1 million to help first-generation college students and students interested in healthcare.

Stewart handed Pumariega a check for  $1,032,177 on Friday.

“These scholarships will open doors for students that otherwise might not have existed. I appreciate the Florida College System Foundation and our generous partners for helping Floridians achieve their academic and career goals,” Stewart said.

The funds come from Helios Education Foundation, Florida Blue and Bank of America to be used on scholarships “relieving the national nursing shortage and helping students who are the first in their family to attend college” which will “help add nurses and allied health professionals that reflect Florida’s diverse population while meeting critical workforce needs.”

Pumariega weighed in on how the funds would be used.

“Many Florida College System students are first in their family to attend college and more than 60 percent of students enrolled in the Florida College System are part-time students balancing life and work while pursuing their degree,” said Pumariega.“These scholarships provided by the Florida College System Foundation, in partnership with Helios Education Foundation and Bank of America, are essential for first generation students to pursue their dreams. Florida Blue has partnered with Florida’s 28 colleges to address the critical nursing and allied health workforce needs, by providing student scholarships to grow our state’s talent pipeline.”

“As an organization driven by our mission of helping people and communities achieve better health, Florida Blue has long supported the nursing community as these dedicated professionals serve on the frontline of care for our members and the community,” said Pat Geraghty, the CEO of Florida Blue. “We are honored to partner with the Florida College System Foundation to continue our support of scholarships across the state to increase the qualified and diverse nursing workforce in Florida.”

“An investment in Florida’s students is an investment in the state’s future workforce,” said Paul Luna, the president and CEO of Helios Education Foundation. “Helios Education Foundation is proud to partner with the Florida College System Foundation to ensure more students, particularly first-generation students, experience the transformational power of education and are positioned for success in career and in life.”

“The Florida College System Foundation has awarded the scholarships since 2001,” said Tami Cullens, the board chairman of the Florida College System Foundation. “These scholarships have changed lives and help students pursue their dreams, especially helping our health care students fund their education as they devote their futures to taking care of others as well as providing affordable and accessible educational experiences to first generation students.”

Those scholarship will be able to be used at all 28 colleges in the Florida College System.

Students can apply for scholarships through their local college foundation or their college’s financial aid office. Eligibility criteria are based on local college requirements.


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