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Scholarship opens world, creates leader


Sky Georges

Graduating senior, criminology major
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

When Sky Georges walks across the stage at the O’Connell Center April 30, he’ll be closing a chapter of a story that chronicles leadership, adaptation and overcoming hardships.After an undergraduate career at the University of Florida that most would consider a great success, Georges was inducted this semester into the UF Hall of Fame, which recognizes students for their outstanding academic achievements and commitment to the university and the Gainesville community. He will receive a bachelor’s degree in criminology with a minor in English.

He says he’s living a dream. But as a young boy, he didn’t know what dreaming was.

Born in Haiti, Georges resided in Port-au-Prince with his single mother, where they lived each day as it arrived, never looking far into an uncertain future. He was fortunate enough to attend school up to fifth grade. But when his mother decided to rent their home for extra income, she moved him and his baby sister to the mountains where there wasn’t much to look forward to, he said.

“In the United States is where you have a chance to really dream big,” Georges said. “I don’t think I ever saw past the next year.”

But within a year of their move, Georges’ mother decided to move to Miami. He began sixth grade as an English for Speakers of Other Languages, or ESOL, student. He didn’t know one word in English. He failed that year, attended summer school and immediately swore that he would never have to go to summer school again because he failed a class. And he didn’t.

In fact, Georges was out of ESOL by the ninth grade and starting to look further into his future than ever before. While a senior, a UF representative spoke to his class about the Florida Opportunity Scholars program. It was the first time Georges could imagine affording a college education.

“I knew that [the Florida Opportunity Scholars program] would be able to provide me with the resources I need at a big university,” he said.

In addition to helping to fund the education and expenses of eligible first-generation college students, the program offers workshops on leadership skills, careers and money management. Georges took the leadership to heart.

Through his four-year undergraduate career, Georges has led three mission trips to his home country through his affiliation with Chi Alpha. In addition, he served as president and co-founder of Gators United for Haiti, a club created after the January 2010 earthquake. The club raised about $93,000, far surpassing a $50,000 goal for the distressed country.

Georges’ dream is to continue providing resources for children in the developing world to receive educations. He says his ability to relate to these children on a first-hand basis is his driving force.

In fall 2011, Georges will begin a master’s program in development practice at UF. He thanks the Florida Opportunity Scholars program for leading the way to the successes he has had thus far, and those he sees in his future.

“Even before I had a dream for myself, they had a dream for me,” he said. “I need to be able to have that dream for other kids.”

Photo credit: Kristen Bartlett Grace — University Photography