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Giving Back Is The Goal

The Bright Futures Scholarship provides opportunities to thousands of students to attend college; and although supporting students in their academic environment is a very important part of the program, it is not the program's only goal. Forming better communities is also important.

Over the years, the Bright Futures Scholarship program has benefited thousands of recipients looking to complete their higher education. The program, funded by the Florida Lottery, has helped people from all walks of life to follow their dreams and obtain a college education. While each of these recipients has a unique story, they all share a common trait: every one of these recipients works hard and is invested in their communities.

Take Dr. Inaki Bent, an attending physician with Jackson Health System. Dr. Bent grew up in the inner city of Miami, and after obtaining a Bachelor's of Science from Florida State University in 2003, he has been working hard ever since. Not only does he serve as counsel for young students who need advice, but he also works at a correctional facility because he believes "a patient is a patient no matter what state in life they come from. Whatever stage in their life, whatever circumstances, we are still all human beings and we all require dignity, respect, and quality health care."

Dr. Bent has worked tirelessly to make his community a better place, and the rewards are palpable.

"I hold my community with high regards, and being able to achieve these accomplishments, I see that I have represented my community well for everything that they poured into me. So, these rewards, these victories, are not mine at all. I share them with family, friends, and those who have allowed me to get to this point."

As a Bright Futures Scholar, his academic achievements were very important, but giving back to his community is the biggest accomplishment.

Professionals are not the only ones who can find a way to give back. It is easy to find that same passion in every student that holds a Bright Futures Scholarship.

A prime example is Sydney Clark, who is still in her second year of college as a biomedical engineering student at the University of Florida. Clark is part of the Generational Relief in Prosthetics (GRIP) student organization, which is focused on helping children by creating pro bono prosthetics.

"I'm on a couple of different teams that have different tasks, creating unique-use prosthetics for a specific task that a child might want to do. I'm really able to give back to the community this way. We have a lot of younger recipients of prosthetics, most under the age of ten, so the wonder that they get from being able to do something that they were never able to do and the joy that they get is just mind-blowing."

There are many ways to make an impact in your community, whether it is by enrolling in college programs to use your skills to help others or simply reaching out to those who need help. Brandi Beard graduated in 2009 from Hillsborough Community College, and she still finds time to be involved. Beard has been a part of the G3 Youth Program, where she is able to talk to teen parents who were in her position and give them counsel.

"I'm definitely able to associate and communicate with those parents because I was one. So, anytime that I see anybody needing anything, like conversation or motivation, I'm there."

Every single person deserves the opportunity to fulfill the dream of going to college and having a chance at a better life. The Bright Futures Scholarship provides that opportunity for thousands of families in Florida, and in turn, students can put in the work and find ways to give back.

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The Florida Lottery is responsible for contributing more than $39 billion to education and sending more than 880,000 students to college through the Bright Futures Scholarship Program. The Florida Lottery reinvests 99 percent of its revenue back into Florida's economy through prize payouts, commissions to more than 13,000 Lottery retailers, and transfers to education. Since 1988, Florida Lottery games have paid more than $72.5 billion in prizes and made nearly 3,000 people millionaires.

 Above content provided by the Florida Lottery.

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