Beacon College will send two motivated students to Tallahassee next year as part of the statewide ICUF Presidential Fellows program to educate legislators about the school and to lobby them to maintain a critical state-sponsored scholarship for private schools.
Maxwell Aaronson and Avital Plotkin will represent Beacon College in the 2018-19 Presidential Fellows class.
“We have seen repeatedly that legislators respond to messages delivered by students,” ICUF President Ed H. Moore said in a press release. “In turn, our students have benefited from the opportunities to be a part of something important that will affect thousands of students. The program encourages creativity, personal and civic responsibility, and opportunities to develop in-depth knowledge of issues and state government.”
The Presidential Fellows program is an initiative 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 Effective Access to Student Education grant (EASE), formerly known as the Florida Resident Access, according to ICUF.
The William L. Boyd, IV, Effective Access to Student Education Program delivers tuition assistance to Florida undergraduate students attending eligible private, non-profit Florida colleges or universities.
Legislators annually set award amounts and those levels are subject to change. For the 2018-2019 academic year, the figure is $3,500 ($1,750 for fall, and $1,750 for winter semester).
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.
Aaronson and Plotkin were selected after completing the interview process.
A sophomore from Fruit Cove, Fla., Aaronson has a 3.05 grade point average and majors in anthrozoology. He is certified in Flying Wild, a whole-school approach to environmental education using birds as the focus.
“I am looking forward to this life changing experience, and grateful to have been given this opportunity to serve the Beacon community,” he said.
Plotkin, a senior majoring in computer information systems/web and digital media track, boasts a 3.81 grade point average. She serves Beacon as a resident and teacher’s assist in the fitness department, is president of Beacon Pride, and also is student government vice-president. In 2016, she authored an essay published in The Orlando Sentinel.
The lobbying adventure for Aaronson and Plotkin begins Oct. 19 with a half-day orientation session at Stetson University in Deland.