The fundraising total from Brunch is still being finalized, but it is expected to exceed $450,000, which easily surpasses last year’s total of more than $325,000.
About 600 guests turned out for the two-hour gala, which featured 26 restaurants and catering companies on USFSM’s scenic campus grounds. Also attending were the USF marching band, the USF SunDolls dance team and a quartet of student musicians from Booker High School in Sarasota.
“This is such a wonderful event because it really demonstrates the connection this campus has to the Sarasota-Manatee community,” USF Sarasota-Manatee Regional Chancellor Karen A. Holbrook, PhD, said. “Brunch on the Bay is about supporting students, and our students are the community’s students. In most cases, our graduates will stay here in this community, work here and help contribute to this community.”
Celebrating its 26th year, Brunch on the Bay showcases USF Sarasota-Manatee’s role as a local university that provides a high-quality, convenient and affordable education for students who become valued members of the workforce and vibrant contributors to the Sarasota-Manatee community. Bank of America served as the 2019 Brunch on the Bay title sponsor.
“At Bank of America, we believe higher education ultimately empowers individuals to make a difference in the world around them by creating access to higher paying jobs and the opportunity to achieve long-term goals,” Mike McCoy, Bank of America Sarasota-Manatee market president, said. “Through initiatives such as the Bank of America Brunch on the Bay, we are helping drive economic mobility by providing people opportunities to pursue their careers.”
Brunch on the Bay has provided more than 1,800 scholarships to USFSM students, most of whom reside in Sarasota and Manatee counties. In many cases, these scholarships help students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford a college education.
“What I like most about Brunch on the Bay is that we are supporting students from our local community, and so many of our students are first-generation college students who work and go to school,” said USFSM Campus Board member Dr. Anila Jain, who was among the first Brunch on the Bay organizers. “It’s nice to support our students, so we can make life a little easier for them.”
Among those helped by a Brunch scholarship was Christella Jasmin, a senior biology major who, at eight years old, immigrated to Florida from Haiti with her mother and sister. Addressing attendees, Jasmin said the award she received will enable her to graduate this fall. After that, she plans to pursue medical school.
“I aspire to become a doctor in family medicine serving underprivileged populations in the U.S. and eventually returning to my birthplace, Haiti, on missions to help in any way I can,” she said.
During her time at USFSM, Jasmin worked two jobs, volunteered on campus and tutored local children. Both her mother and father endured severe medical issues, which weighed heavily on Jasmin as she pursued her degree.
“In spite of these personal challenges, my experience as a USFSM student has been full,” she said. “The Brunch on the Bay scholarship has afforded me the opportunity to aid others, serve as a role model and contribute to society. Today, I am thankful, grateful and blessed. Once a Bull, always a Bull.”
Also at the event, USFSM student Devon Sandoval received a $2,000 scholarship check – $1,000 each from USFSM and Bank of America – to use toward his education. Sandoval, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, works full time in the accounting office at the Resort at Longboat Key Club while pursuing an accounting degree.
Lee Williams, regional vice chancellor for Advancement and Alumni Relations at USFSM, said Brunch on the Bay is about more than just helping students achieve their educational and career goals.
“Brunch on the Bay changes lives; it allows students the freedom to complete their education and realize their dreams with less financial worry,” Williams said.
The event was presented in partnership with Mary Kenealy Events of Sarasota. Bill Menish served as master of ceremonies. USFSM alumni Lauren Henry and Pete Petersen served as Brunch co-chairs. Next year’s chair will be Elizabeth Moore.
“By joining us today, you help provide access to a world-class higher education for so many talented and deserving students,” USF President Steven Currall, PhD, told attendees. “Events such as Brunch on the Bay give me every confidence that we have the energy, the passion and the commitment to continue making a positive difference for our students and the world around us. Thank you for being here to do just that.” To learn more about USF Sarasota-Manatee, visit usfsm.edu.