Setting great goals
Before she graduates from college and becomes a physical therapist, Haley Jarrett wants to repay her family for everything they have done for her, and the first step was obtaining a Bright Futures Scholarship to help with her education expenses.
Haley Jarret has spent countless hours on a soccer field in Plant City, Florida. She started playing competitive soccer when she was three and now plays club soccer for UCF. It has been a lifelong passion of hers, one that would not have been possible without her parents' support.
"My mom is a personal trainer, and my dad was my coach for a long time. We're one of those families always at a soccer field. When I was 11 or 12, we started getting really serious with soccer; so, growing up, it was just school and soccer. That was our lives: school, soccer and church."
Her achievements on the field were family achievements, as they all did their part for her success. So, when Haley was about to go to college, she wanted to give back for all her parents had done for her. Going to college was a main goal of hers, but she knew that paying for it would mean a lot of setbacks for her and her family.
"I thought for the longest time that I was going to get recruited to play soccer. I even went on all these visits and things like that, and I realized that most of these schools were out-of-state, so they didn't take the Bright Futures Scholarship. So, financially, it would not have made sense to go to a smaller school and be in debt, rather than go to a State School and have my college paid for."
For thousands of Florida students, the opportunity to go to college is very limited, even though they have the skills, motivation and preparation. But more often than not, the financial hurdle is too great, and tends to leave families scrambling to pay tuition or big debts that the students would have to repay for years to come. That is where the Bright Futures Scholarship comes into play. Each year, a growing number of recipients obtain the means to follow their dreams to attend one of the many higher education institutions in the state of Florida and pursue a college education. For dedicated students with extracurricular interests such as Haley, the scholarship grants them a chance to come out ahead.
The path Haley set for herself would require certain sacrifices, but they could be well worth it. She wants to graduate from college and become a physical therapist.
"I've been thinking about pediatric physical therapy because I volunteered with a pediatric physical therapist. She worked with kids who have musculoskeletal diseases, like cerebral palsy. I think physical therapy is a very rewarding profession, but I think working with kids makes it that much more rewarding."
So, when she earned the Bright Futures Scholarship, the decision to stay in-state for her education was clear.
"I was having a chat with my dad, and we were looking at the bigger picture: Do I want to be four years in debt and then trying to apply to physical therapy school? Or do I go to UCF, play Club Soccer, have my tuition paid for and not have to worry about loans in physical therapy school?"
At the end, everything fell into place for Haley.
"I probably wouldn't even be at UCF, which has been my dream school for a long time, if it weren't for Bright Futures, which has saved my family and I a lot of money and a lot of… headaches."
"I don't think I would even be living in Orlando if I didn't have [the scholarship]. I have a tech job as a Physical Therapy Technician, and I definitely wouldn't have that job if I didn't have the Bright Futures Scholarship. This way, I can save more of my money for when I apply to Physical Therapy School."
Her passion for helping people through physical therapy comes from first-hand experience. In 2018, Haley was involved in a car accident and needed rehabilitation.
"I had to go to physical therapy, and seeing how an outpatient clinic works and how the therapists interact with their patients and how you get to talk to new people every day, you're active. I think that actually going to physical therapy and getting treatment in one knee is what really cemented that for me."
Haley's career may put her in a position to help other athletes recover from injuries, or children with mobility issues. What she knows for sure is that she wants to help her community in doing so.
"I've been an athlete, I've been injured before, so I know how hard it is. Getting to be the person who gets people back to a hundred percent and ready to play, I think that would be super rewarding. And on the other hand, you have kids who can't move, and getting to be that person who makes them feel more comfortable, even if just for the hour or two that they're with you, and getting to make them laugh and see them smile, I think that's super rewarding too."
After years of driving her to every soccer match and supporting her every season, Haley's parents can be proud that they not only raised an outstanding student and player, but also a great person.
"My parents were definitely proud when I graduated and I told them 'you don't have to worry about paying tuition.' It's just nice to say that I worked hard in high school and took care of it, and I can start repaying them for all they've done for me over the past twenty years. I'll never be able to repay them for everything, like for all the new equipment and gas money going into games and things like that, but it's just nice. I think it's important to them that I'm starting to help them out a little bit and give back to them by saving them a ton of money from my college tuition."
For more information, visit http://www.flalottery.com/brightfutures
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.
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