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Two students with diverse backgrounds will learn grassroots lobbying while representing Beacon College as the school’s 2017-18 ICUF Presidential Fellows. Ary Brown and Samantha R. Chavez were tapped from pool of candidates to represent Beacon College in the statewide program.

The Presidential Fellows program is a campaign of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF). This eclectic confederation of 30 private, not-for-profit, higher-education institutions, including Beacon College, advocates for access to independent higher education. Launched in the 2004-05 academic year, the ICUF Presidential Fellows program mobilizes “student-led campaigns in support of independent higher education, in general, and the Florida Resident Access Grant (FRAG) in particular,” according to ICUF.

The William L. Boyd, IV, Florida Resident Access Grant Program delivers tuition assistance to Florida undergraduate students attending eligible private, non-profit Florida colleges or universities.

The Fellows program accepts only full-time FRAG recipients who are sophomores or above and enrolled for the entire year at an ICUF institution. As fellows, students develop and mount grassroots campus campaigns to promote and educate the college community about the FRAG. Fellows also travel to Tallahassee in the spring where they learn more about the state legislative process and meet with state lawmakers at the state capitol to lobby for preserving FRAG funding.

Brown and Chavez emerged as this year’s fellows after an interviewing process.

A sophomore from Winter Springs, Fla., Brown is pursuing an associate’s degree in humanities and human services. He currently carries a 3.85 grade point average. He has served as a Special Olympics assistant, and currently serves as a student resident assistant and an assistive activities coordinator at Beacon.

Chavez, a junior psychology/human services major from The Villages, is maintaining a 3.85 GPA while balancing volunteering stints at the Benevolence Center in Leesburg and Beyond the Walls Food Pantry in Fruitland Park with her part-time remote duties for Mast Travel Network.

The Presidential Fellows program starts in earnest Oct. 20 with a half-day orientation session at Stetson University in Deland.

“ICUF student grassroots advocates have worked hard to ensure that students at independent colleges and universities have a voice in Tallahassee by assisting the ICFU lobbying efforts through previous academic years,” ICUF notes. “The impact of ‘real students with real experiences’ continues to educate and bring awareness to our legislators and governor each year.”