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Still Studying, Still Grateful

Amanda Porter (left) and Lejla Muminovic both reflected on what college life has been like as PLAYERS Championship scholarship recipients.

May 1, 2011

By Laury Livsey, PGA TOUR Staff

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—The six freshmen filed into the room on the University of North Florida campus, there for an afternoon luncheon. They had been college students for one week, their first semester beginning the previous Monday. Seated at a table near the rear of the room were Amanda Porter and Lejla Muminovic. A year earlier, they had been in the freshmen’s shoes, finishing up their first week of college.

And like the six first-year students, They, too, had received scholarships courtesy of funds generated by THE PLAYERS Championship.

A year later, Porter, an anthropology major, and Muminovic, studying to be a civil engineer, thought about what their first year of college had been like and what their scholarships have meant to them. 

“It’s wonderful. My family has never had a lot of money. So the fact that I didn’t have to worry about tuition as much was a big thing,” Porter explained. “When I started thinking about going to college when I was still in high school, I knew I had to get scholarships otherwise going to college would have been really hard. When I got [a scholarship] from THE PLAYERS, and they told me how much they were going to give, it was amazing.”

Muminovic, whose family immigrated to Northeast Florida from Bosnia in 2000, also wondered how she might follow her dream of becoming an engineer. Her family was struggling financially, a situation exacerbated when her father’s employer laid him off.
“We didn’t have any money saved for college. I’ve always worked hard in high school and stuff, so the rigorous schedule and classes weren’t my biggest concern. Paying for it was,” she said. “I’m so thankful for the scholarship, so I could focus on my classes.When I found out I had received one of the scholarships, I was speechless.”

Porter and Muminovic earned their financial aid based on a number of factors, including need, extracurricular school activity involvement, leadership and community service. Porter likes to perform and is a drama minor. Muminovic is more athletically inclined, playing tennis in high school and also participating in softball and soccer. It was those activities that made both of them well-rounded candidates in the pool that included more than 120 students who applied for the available scholarships.

Now a year later, THE PLAYERS is still giving, but it has stepped up its educational contributions even more. Jack Garnett, the 2002 PLAYERS volunteer chair, announced at the luncheon that the tournament is making a major commitment to the University of North Florida and Florida State College at Jacksonville—establishing a $500,000 endowment at each school over the next five years.

One of this year’s scholarship recipients ixs Latoya Harris, who spoke of the challenges her family faced after her father died of complications from diabetes.

“My father taught me to work hard and to never give up,” said Harris, who plans to attend medical school. “Becoming a pediatrician has been my ultimate goal, and I appreciate my PLAYERS Championship scholarship so much.”

“This is only possible because of the wonderful partnership between the tournament, the PGA TOUR and 2,000 volunteers,” Garnett said of what it has done in the past as well as the tournament’s new initiative. “But to create this partnership, we need the community to support the tournament, and we need volunteers. For every volunteer hour we get at THE PLAYERS, we’re adding to the charitable dollars that then goes to things like these endowments because we don’t have to pay for the volunteers’ service.”

When Garnett finished speaking, Porter and Muminovic clapped enthusiastically, knowing they had directly benefited—and will continue to benefit—from what Garnett was describing.

This year’s scholarship recipients, Tyberius Jones, Ailen Garcia, Tyler Joi Bailey, Jacob Bryant, Tiffany Tarczynski and Harris, also clapped.

A few minutes later, with the luncheon concluded, everybody strolled out of the room and went in their different directions. Porter and Muminovic walked down the corridor of the building on the east end of campus and headed outside, making their way across the parking lot. They didn’t have classes to attend, but their pace was quick, and they seemed to be walking with a purpose.

The two college students were going places.

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