Brandon White

Major: Business Management, 2010

Hometown: Panama City, Florida (Bay County)

Brandon is the third of four children whom were born in Rochester and moved to Panama City, Fl with their strong mother. In his childhood, his family faced numerous financial obstacles but remained united due to his mother’s resilience and optimism. He attended Rutherford High School and graduated in 2006 with an IB Diploma and as the Senior Class President. “High school graduation was special to my entire family because, although I was the third of my siblings to attend high school, none of my… Read More »

Aditta Riha

Aditta hails from Orlando and graduated from Maynard Evans High School prior to attending UF. She is a freshman majoring in Occupational Therapy and is one of the new 50 scholars that were selected to join MFOS this spring.

Aditta met eligibility requirements initially however, an array of incidents prevented her from getting funding from the program. According to Aditta, because her Internet browser blocked all her pop-ups she was unable to see the information sent by the program. She ended… Read More »

Ena Barisic

Major/Year: Political Science/ First Year
Hometown: Bosnia & Jacksonville, Florida

Ena is the first and only person in her entire family to attend college. She and her family moved from Bosnia in 1999. Ena has broken the family mold of marrying early and studying for a medical career in high school. She is proud to be the one setting the standard for the younger members of her family back home in Bosnia. “Since no one has went to college to give me tips on how to go through it; whenever I accomplish something it means more.”

Ena is already giving back to the first… Read More »

Jessica Irvine

Major/Year: Elementary Education/First Year
Hometown: Newberry, Florida

Jessica has had a life full of experiences. She is a former foster youth and has always found the positive in life. She always wanted to attend college, but did not see the University of Florida as an option for her. To Jessica being a student at UF is “like a dream come true”.

For Jessica, the best part of being first generation and a Machen Florida Opportunity Scholar is being a part of a community that understands the amount of work it took to get to college. “Just ‘cause you get into… Read More »

Jessica Valdes

Major/Year: Political Science/ First Year
Hometown: Havana, Cuba & Miami, Florida

Jessica comes from a large family in Cuba. She fondly remembers the times she spent growing up with her close-knit family. Her accomplishments as a first generation student mean that she will make her family proud. She is grateful for the sacrifices her mother made in moving her to the US when she was 12 years old. “It’s really important for me to make my family proud… [it means] their struggles were not in vain.”

Jessica has found strength in her first generation identity. She attended the… Read More »