“… this world is bigger than Immokalee.”
When sociology senior Todre Allen first came to UF in 2002, he had barely traveled outside the state of Florida. Since then, he has studied abroad on four continents, experiencing diverse world cultures first-hand.
As a member of the inaugural group of John V. Lombardi Scholars – the university’s most prestigious scholarship program, created in 2002 in honor of former UF president John V. Lombardi – Allen was awarded a generous financial package and the opportunity to take part in special study abroad experiences each summer, completely paid for and tailored especially for Lombardi Scholars. Allen has been to Mexico, Greece, Japan and South Africa.
“My experiences with the program have assisted me in learning to step outside myself and see that there are people in need all around the world and that there is so much that can be done to aid those people,” he said. “Seeing some of the non-government and non-profit organization projects being done in some of the countries we visited, particularly South Africa, has inspired me to look into ways that I can do my part in the U.S. and incorporate it into my career goals.”
For Allen’s mother, Callie Allen, of Immokalee, the Lombardi program was an answer to prayer. The single parent says she often laid awake at night worrying how she was going to afford to send the A student to college before he was selected among the university’s best and brightest entering freshman to receive a Lombardi scholarship.
“I used to pray, ‘Lord, I have no money, what is he going to do?’” she said. “When I found out he was chosen as a Lombardi Scholar I said, ‘Lord, you came through!’ If it hadn’t been for this program he would still be right here in Immokalee because I don’t have any money. I am so grateful.”
In addition to being a Lombardi Scholar, Todre Allen is active in Progressive Black Men, Inc., a student-run service organization aimed at redefining the image of the black male and providing community outreach activities such as tutoring disadvantaged youth and volunteering at area nursing homes. Allen also volunteers for Habitat for Humanity and is a member of the Black Student Union and the sociology honors society, Alpha Kappa Delta.
He is slated to graduate this spring and is busy applying to law schools. He plans to practice real estate and corporate law, but also wants to work with the non-profit sector to help minorities acquire housing and real estate for small businesses.
In her Immokalee home, where she runs an in-home daycare, Ms. Allen proudly displays a “Todre bookcase” full of all his awards and accomplishments, as well as souvenirs he picked up for her while traveling the globe. “I want people to know he has been somewhere and he is doing things,” she says. “He knows this world is bigger than Immokalee.”
- Photo credit: Kristen Bartlett Grace — University Photography