Anika Omphroy

In Florida House, Former Broward College Student Lends Her Voice to Boost District

Although she was just 13-years-old when officials at Seminole Middle School in Plantation failed to take steps to discourage the racial and ethnic slurs that suddenly began popping up in books and on desktops, Anika Omphroy rallied her classmates to erase the disparaging graffiti themselves and to collect signatures on petitions that decried the offensive attacks.

“I learned at an early age that my voice was my own – and I could use it,” said Omphroy, who, as a 41-year-old newly elected member of the Florida House of Representatives, is still speaking out, but these days on behalf of residents and businesses in District 95 in Broward County, which encompasses parts of Lauderdale Lakes, Lauderhill and North Lauderdale.

A one-time Broward College student and current resident of Lauderdale Lakes, Omphroy was automatically sent to Tallahassee after winning state office unopposed in last year’s November election.

“Running for office was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” said Omphroy, who, to her surprise, learned she had become a Florida lawmaker while ordering a Mint Majesty Tea at a Starbucks drive-thru window. “I would wake up every morning determined to explain to people what my goals are and every day I would get a little bit torn apart – ‘What do you know about this job? You’re too young. You’re too small. You’re too that.’”

Out of Her Element

Anika OmphroyPerceived to be a bit out of her element, Omphroy took pieces of advice and encouragement from others to stitch herself back together and create a vision for what she would like to during her first term. Reducing the poverty rate by five percent in her district, one of the most economically challenged in the state, she said, is within her sights.

“I’m on a mission to look at opportunities that we have to change economic outcomes,” said Omphroy, who has toured the local airport, seaport, and research facilities as well as her old stomping grounds at Broward College to initiate conversations with the county, state and federal stakeholders. “I want to go throughout my district and get people to sign up for apprenticeship programs and to get more people the information they need to change the outcomes of their businesses.”

On Board with Broward UP

That’s why the democrat said she is intrigued by Broward UP™, a community-centric approach established last year by Broward College to address low educational attainment levels and the financial challenges which often accompany them. Among the six Broward County zip codes identified for initial support under Broward UP, three of the zones are in legislative districts that Omphroy represents.

“Helping people – it’s something I do naturally,” said Omphroy, who, as a microbusiness consultant, wants to work with the Innovation Hub at Broward College to support new startups. “There is nothing greater than being able to gently tap someone in the right direction and, then a couple of years later, see them thank you for it.”

Some two decades after transferring from Broward College to complete her bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies at Nova Southeastern University, Omphroy acknowledges that the energy and passion she has for helping others was cultivated as a student. Unpretentious flashbacks, such as the time she couldn’t find her way to a class until another student pointed her in the right direction, are not lost on her.

“It was like the first time I drove a car by myself,” said Omphroy. “Going to Broward College was the first time I got to be in control of my own life. And those are the moments that stay with me.”

If you believe economic circumstances should not determine access to higher education, then Broward UP™ could use your help. Here’s how you can partner.


BC student sets sights on repairing aviation mechanic shortage

Broward College Student Sets Sights on Repairing Aviation Mechanic Shortage

When he was just a kid growing up in Nigeria, Davidson Nzekwe-Daniel would build model airplanes out of paper, cardboard, and tape and power the plastic propellers with a small DC battery. Each time the primitive technology rolled off the table and failed to fly, he wondered why.

“I was in a world all my own,” said Nzekwe-Daniel, who doubles as a student and mechanic at the Emil Buehler Aviation Institute at Broward College. “I needed to learn how these machines work.”

That curiosity and a desire to dissect real turbine jet engines landed him at Broward College two years ago. At the end of the upcoming fall semester, he will graduate with an associate degree in Aviation Maintenance.

Aviation Maintenance students
Davidson, third from the left, collaborates with classmates

Finding a job that is responsible for keeping passengers and flight crew safe shouldn’t be much trouble. A Boeing report estimates that the aviation industry will need 754,000 new aircraft maintenance technicians over the next two decades, more than 80 percent of them for the growing commercial sector. But, while the demand for aviation mechanics is at an all-time high, a headwind looms on the horizon.

Nzekwe-Daniel said Federal Aviation Administration regulations that dictate what aviation programs teach aspiring mechanics had not kept pace with sophisticated industry technology. He can attest. Nzekwe-Daniel needed three attempts to gain the FAA Airframe and Powerplant certification essential for employment.

Airlines Scramble for Technicians

Part of the problem is that the FAA-enforced curriculum is time- rather than competency-based, schools with aviation programs, like Broward College, have only so many credit hours to design an academic program. With little wriggle room to incorporate subject areas beyond those dictated in the 1,900-hour syllabus, Nzekwe-Daniel said some students are unable to reinforce the competencies they need to pass their qualifying exams for FAA licenses in Airframe and Powerplant. As a result, many companies that are scrambling for maintenance technicians have joined educators to urge Congress to legislate the first revisions to the federally authorized curriculum in some 40 years.

Reluctant to wait for the government to step up to the plate, Nzekwe-Daniel, with support from Broward College faculty and administrators, took it upon himself to research a temporary solution. He created a refresher course of sorts, which he dubbed “Curriculum Practical Training, (CPT)” for Broward College aviation students who are determined to bolster their skills leading up to the FAA Practical Test Standards required for Airframe and Powerplant maintenance certification. 

Temporary Solution Takes Off

Nzekwe-Daniel said 25 students at the Aviation Institute completed CPT in June, at no cost. Two students who completed the trial offering in January already obtained FAA Airframe and Power Plant certificates and entered the workforce. Fort Lauderdale-based GA Telesis and Xtreme Aviation in Doral are interested in offering CPT to their employees.

In the meantime, Nzekwe-Daniel relishes the opportunity to spread the word about CPT to other Florida colleges with aviation programs while he promotes the virtues of flight at campus events, job fairs and at K-12 schools in Broward County.

“It’s the most satisfying feeling to help someone get their FAA license and achieve their goals,” said Nzekwe-Daniel. “I love aviation and serving others. My passion is now my purpose.”

As the global fleet of jet airliners expands, the demand for aviation mechanics is predicted to remain strong. Programs of study at the Emil Buehler Aviation Institute at Broward College can lead to FAA certification and help your job prospects soar.


Broward College Graduate Proud to be People's Mayor

Broward College Graduate Proud to be ‘People’s Mayor’

The possibilities were not lost on Justin Flippen when he first started taking classes at Broward College. He had just entered a dual enrollment program that enabled him at 17 years old to begin college coursework on North Campus while he continued to study toward a diploma a few miles down the Florida Turnpike at Coconut Creek High School.

“I’ll never forget sitting in the Honors College and reading about how Parris Glendening, the governor of Maryland, had graduated from Broward College,” said Flippen. “I thought to myself, ‘I may never become a governor or anyone important, but a community college can be a great place to get the tools that I need to succeed.”

A Classroom Challenge Spurs Interest in Representational Politics

Flippen is yet to run for governor, but residents of Wilton Manors believe that he can be just as important. In record numbers last year, they elected the Broward College graduate to serve as their mayor. The vote punctuated a journey into politics for Flippen that traces back to his days at Broward College, when he was challenged by professor Lemuel Molovinsky to defend positions on American History in front of his classmates.

Justin Flippen“As someone who knew he wanted to get involved in politics, I was afraid of speaking in a public setting,” said Flippen, who left Broward College with an associate degree and a 4.0 grade-point average. “But, I had the encouragement of some amazing instructors and speech courses that would prove helpful in my journey.”

Now, Flippen builds on his history as he argues on behalf of the 12,000-plus constituents in Wilton Manors, a cozy island community in Broward County that claims to be the “second-gayest city in America.”

“I am very proud of my city, very proud of my community,” said Flippen, whose mayoral victory made Wilton Manors the first municipality in Florida to elect an all-LGBTQ City Commission. “We are a model city that is all-inclusive. It’s one of our greatest strengths. Most of our residents are not LGBT, but no matter who you are or what color under the rainbow you identify with, you are respected.”

Embracing Identity

Flippen said during his time at Broward College; he wrestled with his sexuality. He found the support to confront his challenges, for the most part, among off-campus gay and lesbian organizations.

“I wasn’t going to be ashamed of who I was,” said Flippen, who, after graduating summa cum laude from Florida Atlantic University, went on to earn a law degree at the University of Florida. “I realized I could be a person grounded in deep and abiding faith. And being gay was a much of a non-sequitur as my eye color.”

In and around Wilton Manors, Flippen is known as the “people’s mayor.” It’s a label he is proud to wear. At his full-time role with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, Flippen is a short walk from where the original Willis B. Holcombe Center once housed Broward College  district offices and classroom space. The building, currently under renovation, is a reminder of his days as a Broward College student when he was making,  if only, mental note of becoming governor. Now that idea doesn’t seem so far-fetched.

Said Flippen, who plans to run for reelection next year, “One never knows.”

Academically focused high school students determined to get a head start on college coursework while, studying toward their diploma are eligible for a dual enrollment program at Broward College. Learn how to save time, money, and earn college credits.


Minority male initiative

Minority Male Initiative Uncorks Potential in Broward College Student

Before he boarded the bus each morning for Broward College, Woodllyson Acluche stood before a mirror to get himself ready for class. Hidden beneath his bushy beard and unruly hair was ambition that he is fortunate his instructors could see.

“I was a scary-looking individual,” said Acluche. “It took someone from the outside to see the potential that I had to invest their time and ensure that I become a success.”

That someone was professor Kaya Hamer-Small, who encouraged Acluche one day after class to join the Minority Male Initiative, a Broward College strategy that provides underserved students with the support they need to complete their college goals. When he accepted the invitation, Acluche had no idea of the resources including mentorships, networking and leadership and like-skills training that were available to enhance his Broward College experience.

How was he to know? After all, Acluche didn’t find out about opportunities to attend Broward College until he was 21 years old. Up until then, he had little time for education. He was working mornings as a salesperson at Macy’s. His afternoons were spent grilling chicken at Pollo Tropical and the evenings involved stocking shelves at Target. Long on hard work and determination, Acluche always fell short on guidance and direction.

‘Work or Leave the House’

Woodllyson AclucheBorn in the United States, Acluche moved to Haiti when he was 10 years old to live with his aunt, and younger sister and brother. He returned to Florida seven years later to move in with his father.

“Everyone can be a father, but not everyone can be a dad,” said Acluche. “That mental and moral support, that love and compassion that you need, I didn’t have. It was either you work or leave the house.”

Acluche chose work, which meant dropping out of Miramar High School before he could complete the 11th grade. After juggling three jobs and at the recommendation of his pastor, he joined Miami Job Corps, completed his GED and pursued a trade. Those plans took an about face when an advisor convinced Acluche that a degree would be better suited to his career aspirations. He then enrolled in the Criminal Justice program and earned his associate degree in May.

Change in Attitude

Now, he looks back at the circumstances that had shaped his life and credits the peer and faculty mentors he encountered in the Minority Male Initiative and the interpersonal skills he developed for his attitude adjustment.

“I realized I didn’t have to go through college alone,” said Acluche, who is studying toward a bachelor’s degree in Supervision and Management at Broward College. “It was a tremendous help to know I had a tangible place to lean on. I made lifelong friends. And I learned about all resources at Broward College that are helping me to become the man I never thought I could be.”

That man, now 26 and growing, has become a mentor himself, doubling as a peer academic leader with the Minority Male Initiative. Acluche spreads a message of hope to local high school and middle school students who, like him, want to make their mark, but don’t know where to turn.

“Yes, you are handsome,” Acluche now reminds himself confidently in front of the mirror each morning before hopping in his car to Broward College. “And you are going to conquer this.”

The Minority Male Initiative is making a difference in the lives of Broward College Students who face unique obstacles toward completing academic and career goals. See what faculty mentors and peer support can mean for you.


Array

For Broward College Student, Study Abroad Experience in Spain Makes World of Difference

There was a time when Samuel Jordan thought he wasn’t smart enough to finish high school, let alone pursue a college degree in a foreign country. But, that’s where the Broward College student found himself this past spring, in Seville, Spain, the birthplace of flamenco dancing, interacting with locals, taking classes toward graduation and living a dream he once only dared to imagine.

“If you told me two or three years ago that I would be studying in Europe, I would have said, ‘You are crazy,’” said Samuel, who was awarded the William E. Greene scholarship for a semester study through the International Education Institute at Broward College.

The scholarship covers the cost of airfare, housing, tuition, program fees and travel insurance for students who choose to study at one of Broward College’s international centers in Ecuador, Peru or Spain.

Samuel JordanSamuel, who is fascinated by world history, geography and geopolitics, said his choice was easy. As a journalism major at Broward College, he figured the four months in Europe would not only give him a chance to observe current events from a foreign perspective but improve his Spanish as well.

“I had never been outside the United States,” said the 19-year-old, who, up until the trip, had lived with his mother, father and 11 siblings in Tamarac. “I had never even lived on my own, but I loved the challenge.”

During his time in Seville, Samuel lived with a local family that spoke little English. He had no other choice but to adapt.

“When I got there, I knew next to nothing in Spanish,” he said. “But I will never forget the look on my host mother’s face when I could communicate with her comfortably in Spanish. She was full of pride and joy.”

Eye-opening Adventure

When he wasn’t taking in the European culture, Samuel took classes at the International College of Seville. His curriculum included courses in international business and international relations along with nine-credits of Spanish. On the weekends, he traveled to Scotland, England, France, Italy, Morocco, and Portugal.

“It was eye-opening,” said Samuel. “Being from someplace else, people tended to look at me differently. But, when I said I was from the United States, their eyes lit up.”

With each encounter, Jordan became more comfortable, and his maturity level grew. He made friends. And his love for learning deepened. Home-schooled from sixth- through 12th grade, he lacked motivation until some much-needed introspection gave him the push to complete his GED. He then enrolled at Broward College.

“I didn’t have any friends until I met so many people at Broward College,” said Samuel, who is finishing up a summer internship in San Francisco where he works in 3-D graphics and map design for Roblox, an online game-creation platform. “I really enjoy learning now.”

In another few weeks, Samuel will be back in South Florida. He will bring a 3.9 grade-point average into the fall semester. When he completes his associate degree, he plans to transfer to a four-year university.

“I’ve missed my friends at Broward College,” he said. “I can’t wait to get back.”

Broward College students interested in a life-changing learning experience can choose from 30 countries to study abroad. See how international education can open new horizons for you.


Array

For Broward College Vice Provost Janice Stubbs, Student Success is Labor of Love

Don’t tell Janice Stubbs that she has worked at Broward College for three decades. The senior administrator is quick to remind that number, in all actuality, is 28. And who would dare argue because, perhaps, no one knows more about Broward College than she does?

After all, Stubbs has devoted almost her entire professional career to Broward College, first as the coordinator of admissions and registration on the Judson A. Samuels South Campus and on through her current role as vice provost for Student Services.

Dedicated to Improving Student Success

Janice StubbsWhether she is walking across campus or in her office, Stubbs enjoys nothing more than talking to students. She is at her best when she is picking their brains, listening to their challenges,  identifying what she can do to enhance their academic, social, or personal development and pledging to do better for them. She is dedicated to student success and expects that same passion from her colleagues.

“If Janice asks you a question, you better know the answer or be ready to research it in full – because more questions will be coming,” said Bryan Anderson, district director of College Readiness and Recruitment, with a smile. “After sending her an email, there’s nothing better than getting a ‘fantastic’ or ‘thanks loads,’ which means you’ve met her expectations – for that moment at least.”

Student services has come a long way since Stubbs joined the College. Back then, support was up to a director, an assistant, and Stubbs. Campuses were friendly rivals that competed against each other to achieve higher enrollments. There was one club on South Campus and few student life events.

Since that time, Broward College centralized operations. Minority enrollment grew, and student needs diversified. The student body now boasts a cultural mix of Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, Millennials and beyond who are put on clear pathways toward a career immediately after graduation or to four-year universities instead.

As vice provost, Stubbs wears many hats to influence their educational outcomes and student lives, from recruitment and admissions to academic advising and counseling.

Keeps a Promise

Stubbs cares deeply about doing right by students. To that end, she is tireless. Following a conference earlier this year in California, Stubbs took the Friday night red-eye flight back to South Florida to ensure she would fulfill a promise she made to the women’s basketball team to attend their game Saturday afternoon.

Stubbs is often the first in the office and the last to leave. Weekday, vacation, or holidays matter little. She is on-call 24/7. And her commitment to quality extends beyond the demands she puts on herself.

“In order to work effectively with her, you need to know your stuff,” said Neil Cohen, associate vice president, Student Life, and Ombudsperson. “She’s going to ask difficult questions about complicated work issues, so you can’t just stroll into her office without your ‘A’ game.”

In exchange, Stubbs is extremely loyal. She will go the extra mile to protect the interests of her staff with the same intensity she pursues funds to secure mentors for first-generation students, said Giannela Haddad, an executive assistant to Stubbs who recalled her supervisor’s unwavering support when she applied for maternity leave.

Finding Time for Personal Relaxation

Now that her two daughters are no longer living at home -- one is pursuing a master’s in exceptional student education, the other a career in journalism at Syracuse University and Bustle magazine -- Stubbs is beginning to find time for herself. After work, she takes dance and yoga classes and is learning how to meditate, although she claims she’s hardly a “guru,” just yet.

“It relieves stress,” said Stubbs, who commutes from her home in Cooper City after many years in Pembroke Pines. “I’m looking at ways to have fun again. When I was raising kids, a lot of the fun was centered around them. I’m learning what that can be for myself.”

That doesn’t mean that she plans to retire tomorrow or the day after, but, when she does, she will be content.

“It’s been an honor and a privilege to work at Broward College,” she said. “I think when I leave here, I will be leaving things a little better than when I found them.”

Student Services at Broward College refers to the broad range of support, including academic counseling and tutoring that is available to help students successfully navigate through college. Access the help you need and enhance your higher education experience today.


Curt Liner

When BC Employee Hits Ground Running, No Telling How Far He’ll Go

Most mornings, Curt Liner likes to hit the ground running. For the landscape specialist at Broward College, that means a two-hour jaunt from his home in Davie through the streets that loop in and around A. Hugh Adams Central Campus before he heads to work.

“It’s a form of relaxation,” said Liner. “It’s nice and quiet. I can listen to the birds, see the sun come up.”

Curt LinerLiner figures his 5’oclock in the morning therapy involves running more than 2,000 miles a year, and at least 16 million steps in the past decade. The regiment has made him one of the top distance runners at his age in South Florida. In August, Liner will turn 60, and his colleagues at Broward College who are accustomed to honking their horns and waving when they see him running along College Avenue or Nova Drive, don’t believe he’s about to slow down anytime soon.

He has no reason to. Consider that Liner consistently posts times below most any runner his age. In March, as a member of the Broward College team, he finished 44th overall out of more than 26,000 competitors and first in the 55-59 age group at the Mercedes-Benz Corporate Run through the streets of Fort Lauderdale. With just enough time to catch his breath, he finished first overall out of all 300 participants two days later at the Healthy Broward Run, in Delevoe Park.

“I always want to be the fastest, oldest guy out there,” said Liner with a grin. “I’m at a special time in my life because I can’t lose. Who is going to say they beat a 60-year-old. They’d get laughed at.”

Liner wasn’t kidding around either, when he took up running almost 20 years ago after a co-worker at Broward College dared him to participate in a local 5K at Nova Southeastern University. Right out of the gate, Liner did well enough to want to run more. He also started asking questions of other runners and read whatever he could about training. In less than three years after his first race, he had knocked six minutes off his time in the 5K.

Down to a Science

These days, training has grown into a science of sorts for him. Liner can predict within seconds the time he will finish in any given race. His numbers have added up to a spot on the Runners Depot racing team.

“I’m a numbers guy, and I like to see my results from training,” said Liner, who graduated from Broward College in 1981 with an associate degree in landscape technology. “If I wanted to become a good runner, I had to become a student of the game.”

Like a student studying to pass an exam, Liner says if he puts in the work, there is hardly a reason he should not run the race he expects. And that’s somewhere near 18 minutes and a few seconds for 3.11 miles, or 12 ½ laps around a track.

Community Connections

Liner said he has won four races outright and the firsts and seconds in his age group are too many to count. He does fondly remember handily defeating a group of Broward College Physical Education students, who challenged him one day while he was working out at one of the fitness centers on campus.

Beyond the competition, Liner enjoys the camaraderie that comes with physical exercise. Prior to his running exploits, Liner kept active, connecting to both students and employees as a participant in the “flag football” and “ultimate frisbee” intramural programs offered on campus. Now, he’s still running around, but with a purpose.

“All these races I run in are for charities – for zero prostate, for cancer,” he said. “And most people who run in these races care. They are good people in the community.”

Already this year, Liner has run in 16 races. His next stop may be in a 10K in June in Ashville, N.C. He will be on vacation, then.

“You have to be a little obsessive-compulsive,” he said. “I’ll either run in a race or train. Wind, rain, I don’t stop. I still feel young for my age.”

If you are looking to build up a sweat, Broward College is the Color Run -- often referred to as the “Happiest 5K on the Planet” -- Saturday, May 18, beginning at 7:30 a.m., in Huizenga Park at 32 E. Las Olas Boulevard, in Fort Lauderdale. For more information on this unique paint race that celebrates healthiness, happiness and individuality, contact cparra@broward.edu

If you’re interested in a fitness career, check out Physical Education courses at Broward College.


Ana Caro

English Language Courses Speak Volumes About Student’s Determination

For more than a year, Ana Caro immersed herself in English courses to prepare for this very day. And now, as her eyes circled the room on her first day of classes for her associate degree, she was at a loss for words.

Ana Caro“There were all kinds of young people, all ages,” said Caro, who had successfully completed  English for Academic Purposes, at Broward College, a program that helps prepare non-native speakers, like her, to eventually take degree-level courses. “I was nervous. Not only did I struggle with pronunciations, but I could be a mom to all of my classmates.”

But, she wasn’t. Caro instead was a 50-year-old mother of three and a wife of 28 years to their father, Oscar. Prior to embarking on her second career, Caro worked as an assembly line supervisor at New Wave Surgical, a medical device manufacturer in Pompano Beach. But the company was sold and relocated to Puerto Rico. All employees, including Caro, were let go.

Confused, and unable to find a good-paying job because of her English deficiencies, she cared for her boys during the day and bounced around at night cleaning houses and babysitting while her husband continued working at a pharmaceutical company.

“It was hard,” she said. “We said, ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ and that’s it.”

The couple knew something had to give. If she didn’t learn to speak English, Caro questioned whether she might ever find a good-paying, stable job again. College had always been a goal of hers and with a push from her husband, Caro decided to make the leap. Pushing aside her fears, she visited the admissions office at Broward College and made higher education a priority.

Pushing against the odds

Although a full-time schedule of EAP classes during the day and work at night would not be easy, Caro was accustomed to hard times since immigrating from her native Colombia to the United States with her parents when she was 13 years old.

“We had our dreams,” she said. “But we all struggled with a lot of things because we knew nothing about English.”

Things began to change somewhat when Caro enrolled in the EAP courses at Broward College, but still she had her doubts. Perhaps, her time for an education had passed her by, she thought. After all, she couldn’t keep a conversation in English and struggled to grasp sentence structure.

“I tried to quit,” she said. “I felt I was too old and didn’t want to participate in class because I was afraid people wouldn’t understand me. But my husband was always there to encourage me. He said, “No, no, no. You finish what you started.’”

Caro is determined to see her education through. And her 3.92-grade-point average speaks volumes about her purpose and dedication. After she completes two courses in the summer, she will have earned an associated degree with a concentration in workforce education.

But that’s not all. Caro also plans to pursue at bachelor’s degree at Broward College. Her conviction has inspired her oldest son to return to Broward College and finish the degree work he started, as well.

If you have a basic understanding of English, but struggle with academic-level proficiency, Broward College’s English for Academic Purposes program can prepare for coursework required of a degree. Here’s how.


Brandon Gibson

Taking Matters in His Own Hands, Entrepreneurial Student Proves to Have DNA for Success

After his parents divorced when he was 10, Brandon Gibson lived first with his mother, then his grandmother and aunt, then his father and now his uncle in Lauderhill. At each stop he was grateful to have a roof over his head and food on the table, but all the bouncing around from one household to the next could sometimes deflate his spirits.

Brandon Gibson“I cried a lot of nights in high school,” said Gibson, who was educated in North Carolina, Virginia and Florida. “My family was always there, but I felt I would have to make it on my own.”

And that meant he might have to take some risks, which he proved willing to do. As a teen-ager, he took the food stamps his grandmother gave him and sold candy in the neighborhood to make a profit that he put into a savings account. He purchased clothes online from overseas and imported them to sell in the United States. And, at 15, he started a pressure cleaning business to revitalize outdoor patio decks. Mature beyond his age and with some life lessons already under his belt, Gibson set out to find an investor for his brightest idea, yet.

Education -- Brightest Idea, Yet

The Get Real program at Broward College offered him the financial backing to go about the business of obtaining a college degree and solidify his destiny even more. Never one to run from responsibility, Gibson sprinted to the scholarship offer and enrolled in an associate degree program in computer science.

Once in the classroom, Gibson began to apply the same passion he had for building a service toward acquiring more knowledge. By interning, first, in the computer science and engineering department, and, later, in President Haile’s office, he put himself in situations where he could develop healthy relationships and learn firsthand from others who were willing to share their expertise.  That insight came in handy when he served as president of Greatness in the Making, an initiative a Broward College that helps student assimilate to the workforce in a fun and interacting setting.

“Entrepreneurship is in my blood,” said Gibson. “It’s always been in me.”

His DNA was on display when he was selected to be a speaker at a TEDx Talk held on campus, where he showcased his business acumen during a 15-minute live performance before the campus community, which included his mother who proudly refers to her son as “her billion-dollar baby.”

Entrepreneurship in His Blood

Despite his humble upbringing, Gibson doesn’t believe in measuring his success strictly in dollars and cents. It’s his ways of giving back and “making a difference in the lives of others” that he finds the most satisfying. For the time being, that means as a licensed public adjuster, in which he finds intrinsic value by representing the rights of the insured during the claims process as he makes plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree at Broward College.

Have health, economic or social circumstances forced you to put your academic goals on hold? You may be eligible for scholarships that can reopen doors to higher education. Here’s how.


Christian Del Valle

When Everyone Turned Aside, DACA Student Turned to Broward College

While awaiting a change to his undocumented immigration status, Christian Del Valle’s college plans remained in limbo. All that was given was the dark basement storage unit that he, his mother, and younger sister and brother returned to each night for sleep. Two weeks after graduating from high school, Christian Del Valle was out on the streets.

“That summer was the hardest,” said Del Valle, the proud product of a Broward College program that offers scholarships to motivated students who don’t know the meaning of quitting. “School would later become my escape. It was the only thing I had.”

Fighting for a Chance at the American Dream

Christian Del ValleBorn in Guatemala, Del Valle was living in Florida with his mother and father by the time he was 11 months old. Under those circumstances, Del Valle could not gain U.S. citizenship in the same way his younger brother and sister did, as they were born on American soil. He was “an issue” that only time and DACA status could remedy.

In the meantime, Dell Valle cleaned houses and washed cars. He wanted to dofor his mother and siblings what his father, who abandoned the family years earlier, never did.

“If I couldn’t go to school, maybe my brother and sister could,” said Dell Valle.“I wanted them to succeed.”

DACA and Broward College Offer Hope

Their prospects got a little brighter when Del Valle was granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, or DACA. This status not only protected him from being deported, but also gave him access to work permits,his first legal job at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, and a fighter’s chance at higher education.

Faced with the daunting reality that he could never afford the cost of tuition, a co-worker told him about the Get Real! program at Broward College, which provides financial assistance to students with challenging situations. Del Valle figured his plight was formidable enough.

“I had no other place to turn,” said Del Valle. “Even people I thought were family had pushed us aside.  For the first time, someone cared.”

The Get Real! program provided the footing for Del Valle to launch his college ambitions and take advantage of all he ever wanted: a chance. And he hasn’t looked back since.

“I am grateful for the situation I endured,” said Del Valle, who graduates this spring (May 2019) with an associate degree. “If I live with regrets, I’m not living.”

Del Valle said Get Real! taught him to trust people and ask for help, and his life has gotten better, not easier. The family found a place to live in Cypress Creek, and he and his siblings continue to work and go to school. At times, Del Valle is both mentally and physically drained, but he persists. He wants to be the first person in his family to graduate from college.

“I’ve had so many reasons to give up, but I didn’t,” he said. “If I can get through homelessness, I can get through anything.”

In the future, Del Valle plans to continue his education, earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work. He wants to be the lifeboat for others to reach out to in the same way that Broward College rescued him.

You can find out more about scholarships and other Financial Aid programs at Broward College. To explore our more than 145 programs, visit www.broward.edu.