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‘Bulls and Brews’ to boost scholarships at USF St. Petersburg

Christian Hardigree

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Image: University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

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My father took what I lovingly refer to as an “academic journey.”

He flunked out of college twice. He had to transfer to another school to get his grades up, created a faux fraternity (the BLTs), and had several “side hustles” to make money for the family. But over his 17-year quest for a degree, he always persevered, even taking me along with him to classes when I was too young to be left on my own.

To honor his commitment to education after he died, my mom and I created a scholarship in his name at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. We were specific that it wasn’t necessarily for the highest achieving students; after all, that wasn’t my dad’s jam. While it wasn’t always pretty, he stuck the landing. It makes me so happy that his memory lives on through the students he helps, but I always regret that we waited until after he passed to create the scholarship. He would have gotten such a kick out of meeting the scholarship recipients, hearing their stories and maybe even offering them some advice.

I tell you all this to encourage you to donate to the scholarships we have created for our USF St. Petersburg students. And luckily, we have a fun event and a new campus tradition coming up this month that will make giving even easier!

It’s called “Bulls and Brews by the Bay,” and it will be held from 4-7 p.m. Oct. 20 along the waterfront at USF St. Petersburg. You can read full details and purchase a ticket here. We’re also calling it Okto-BULL-fest (get it?) because the evening will feature a variety of craft beers from local brewers in honor of our USF St. Petersburg Brewing Arts program. But we will also offer wine, seltzer and soft drinks for those who aren’t beer enthusiasts. Maybe next year we should call it “Bulls, Bubbles and Brews by the Bay”? You know how we love alliteration.

There will be live music, chance drawings and a delicious German-themed menu (mmm … bratwurst!) so get your lederhosen ready! Best of all, every penny raised will go toward scholarships for our USF St. Petersburg students. Participants will get the opportunity to hear directly from students about the impact those gifts have had on their lives. Nothing better than engaging with students!

I know firsthand the difference a scholarship can make in a student’s life. There’s no way I would have made it through college without financial assistance. At times, I was a food insecure student. I had bouts of homelessness, couch surfing and sleeping in a car. And in today’s world, we have students who are facing similar challenges.

At my previous institution, Metropolitan State University of Denver, about 50 percent of the student population was $500 away from having to drop out, so a flat tire could mean the difference between finishing the semester or not. At USF St. Petersburg, we’re doing everything we can to help our students succeed no matter what their financial circumstances may be. That includes stocking an on-campus food pantry, where food insecure students can get much-needed food and hygiene supplies. We also maintain a scholarship program called Stay AFLOAT, that provides a financial boost to students who just need a little help making it through the semester.

Scholarships make a huge difference in our students’ lives. I hope you will consider making a gift, and we would love to see you at our first-ever Bulls and Brews by the Bay! I promise to save you some strudel.

Christian Hardigree is Regional Chancellor of USF St. Petersburg.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mark Parker

    Mark Parker

    October 12, 2023at3:17 pm

    I can personally vouch for the efficacy of the programs Chancellor Hardigree mentioned in her article, as they helped me stay “afloat” after I broke my femur a week before the Fall Semester of my junior year. I was also an adult student with quite the academic journey, and those programs ensured I did not have to drop out and move home. I look forward to a fun event supporting a fantastic cause.

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