NASSAU, BAHAMAS — It’s the beginning of a brand-new chapter for three Grand Bahama students experiencing their first few days of a new school year at the University of Central Florida (UCF), thanks to the generosity of the Lewis Foundation.

Jordan Thompson and sisters Haley and Jade Adderley are counted among UCF’s 69,500-student body hailing from all 50 US states and 149 countries around the world.

UCF’s Spring 2021 classes began Monday, January 11. For many new students, it will undoubtedly be a first year unlike any other.

The pandemic’s presence changed life at the Orlando campus. There are COVID-19 mitigation efforts in place along with a hybrid of in-person instruction and virtual classes.

Still, that hasn’t dampened the Grand Bahamian trio’s enthusiasm for higher learning.

Thompson feels lucky to be attending UCF.

“I took three years before I went off to college,” said the 22-year-old. “If I had stopped looking, I would not have found the Lewis Foundation.”

The 2016 graduate of Bishop Michael Eldon went straight into the workforce, working as a photographer and videographer for a multimedia company in Freeport before Hurricane Dorian struck in September 2019.

The family’s saving had been all but depleted in the fight to keep a loved one alive.

Last year, he heard about the Lewis Foundation.

A hospitality management major, Thompson hopes to one day own a five-star hotel in Grand Bahama.

Receiving the scholarship to attend university has been life-changing for the Adderley sisters, who come from a single-parent home.

Haley, a 2017 graduate of Bishop Michael Eldon, spent a year at the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada studying to be a pharmacist before she realized a career in pharmaceutical was not for her.

“On the totally opposite end of the spectrum, my dream, my goal, was to be an event planner,” said the 20-year-old.

In October, she stumbled upon the Lewis Foundation by way of a flyer dropped into a family group chat. Haley wasted no time applying to UCF; and she and her mother encouraged her younger sister Jade to apply for the scholarship as well.

“We thought we used up all our luck when Haley applied. When I got it as well, it was a big shock,” said Jade, a 2019 graduate of Bishop Michael Eldon who intends to utilize her graphic design degree to help market Grand Bahama to tourists.

Each semester, the foundation awards four full scholarships covering tuition, textbooks and room and board. Preference is given to first-generation college students who come from homes where neither parent attended university.

The scholarship is renewable up to eight semesters based on UCF’s good academic standing requirements.

Andrica Smith-Munroe, a spokeswoman for the Lewis Foundation, said: “Although preference is given to new high school graduates, the foundation considers non-traditional applicants on a case-by-case basis.”

To be eligible for scholarships, students must be a graduate of a Bahamian secondary school, provide proof of acceptance into UCF and demonstrate financial need.

Persons interested in applying for a Lewis Foundation scholarship may contact lewis.scholarship@tavistock.com.

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