UF TRIO participants recognized in statewide scholarship recognition ceremony for first-generation students

On Thursday, July 16, UF students Anthony Collins and Johanna Lucas were recognized at the Inaugural FL TRIO Scholarship Recognition Ceremony. The ceremony honors statewide achievements by participants in TRIO Programs, which are federally funded programs for students who are the first in their families to attend college. TRIO Programs are designed to increase access, retention and graduation rates for these first-generation students. The University of Florida currently offers two of these programs: the UF McNair Scholars Program and Student Support Services (SSS).

Anthony Collins, a McNair scholar, was awarded FL TRIO collegiate program scholarships. Anthony is a 4th-year Behavioral & Cognitive Neuroscience major who is also minoring in Japanese. Outside of TRIO, Anthony has earned several other accomplishments and awards including research publications in the Journal of Biological Chemistry  and Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, a Presentation Award in neuroscience for the Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, and the Ronald Reagan Scholarship. Anthony has also received scholarships from other UF first-generation student programs, including the UF PROMISE scholarship and the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholarship. He has been involved on campus as a co-founder for the UF Kanji Circle, mentor for the Khoshbouei Research Lab, volunteer presenter for Brain Awareness Week and member of the Society of Neuroscience and the UF Japanese organizations.

Johanna Lucas, a Student Support Services (SSS) Scholar, shared her talents with the state through a violin performance. The crowd was extremely moved. Johanna is a fourth-year student majoring in public health at the university. Her honors and awards include being recognized as the 2020 Unsung Hero for the UF Black Community Awards, Florida All-State Orchestra, FAU Honors Orchestra and Broward All-County Orchestra, to name a few. Her campus involvement includes serving as an academic chair for the Multicultural Association for Pre-Health Students (MAPS), a 2020-2021 PAACT Program Coordinator, an MCDA Ambassador, a volunteer at UF Health Shands Hospital and the UF Symphony Orchestra.

Program directors Dr. Samesha Barnes and Dr. Angeleah Browdy expressed their pride in the students’ achievements.

“I am honored to have an exceptional scholar like Anthony in our program, as he exhibits the behavior and attitude that we hope to cultivate in all of our students,” said Dr. Barnes, director for UF McNair Scholars. “He’s a true testament to the legacy of Dr. Ronald E. McNair and he is already creating his own legacy of research, scholarship and service.”

“Johanna and Anthony have exemplified the level of scholarly excellence that we have come to expect from our UF TRiO Scholars,” added Dr. Browdy, director for Student Support Services. “We’re certainly proud of their achievements.”

Both Anthony and Johanna expressed their gratitude for the UF TRIO Programs as well.

“Had it not been for McNair, I honestly may have given up on the notion of graduate school, but now I have a dream of becoming a college professor,” said Anthony. “The experiences of applying for and being accepted by the McNair program were two of the most influential experiences of my life. Attending professional conferences, such as SAEOPP, ABRCMS and SREB, granted me the opportunity to see top-notch research performed by experts in several specialties. Many of the people I met at these conferences have turned out to be invaluable connections that have changed my perspective of research for the better.”

Johanna added, “I had the privilege to join SSS my freshman year in Summer B 2017. This outstanding program at the University of Florida has granted me a supportive academic environment. Throughout the years, I have attended financial literacy workshops, academic workshops, tutoring sessions, the SSS Leadership Conference, graduate school informationals, and most recently the GRE Prep Skill Building. Last year, I was honored to receive a generous scholarship that has helped me overcome my financial challenges.

“What I love the most about SSS is that it continuously provides resources and services that have allowed me to gain essential academic, social, and leadership skills and confidence to reach my full potential and be successful at the University of Florida and in my future career as a medical doctor.”

Congratulations to both the students and programs that have supported them.


Story by David Buttrick