Take Stock Alum Orchestrates Full Circle Moment

You can consider this one of the many full-circle moments that occur in our program between Take Stock Broward County alum, Dauntay Billings (2016), and mentor Gigi Graves, Associate Director of Postsecondary Retention and Student Support for Take Stock in College. Dauntay asked Gigi to speak at the alum’s tea party fundraiser to educate parents, students, and donors about the importance of applying for and donating to scholarships. Dauntay received a scholarship from the student’s church during senior year at Nova High School, instilling the value of sharing with other students.  

The mentor-mentee duo first met when Dauntay was in the 9th grade and helped prepare the student to pursue a higher education. Like many students in the Take Stock Broward program, Gigi helped mentees and other students by motivating them to be consistent about applying for scholarships.  

“I started in the student’s junior year of school providing them a list of national, local, and county-based scholarships,” Gigi shared. “I would send a list to the parents and their mentors. The goal is to be able to see the criteria needed to apply for the scholarships when they’re ready to submit the application during senior year.” 

Gigi emphasizes that the earlier students are exposed to scholarship opportunities, the more likely they’ll be ready to or have time to apply for them when they’re eligible. When Gigi served at Take Stock Broward, the mentor ensured all seniors applied for the Florida Lottery Bright Futures program. Statewide scholarships aren’t the only scholarships Take Stock students can apply for. All students are encouraged to apply for national (corporations), local (county, city scholarships, community organizations), institutional (college), statewide (Bright Futures) scholarships. 

Many of these scholarship opportunities begin taking applications around the same time every year, so take note (or a spreadsheet) of these upcoming dates and inform your eligible students to apply as soon as possible. For seniors, it’s so important for students to apply to their colleges of choice by November 1st to qualify for institutional aid and merit scholarships. It pays—literally to apply early to college! “I even encourage my seniors to apply to college by Labor Day using resources like the Common App to make applying for college more efficient,” Gigi shared. 

Dauntay graduated from Florida International University with a bachelor’s degree in Information Systems Analytics in December 2019 and is currently working for Discover Financial Services. Having received so much as a student in the Take Stock program, Dauntay decided to give back by serving as a Take Stock mentor with Broward County to ensure the next class of Take Stock students have access to scholarships to cover all their postsecondary needs.  

When asked about what advice to give students who are unmotivated to apply for scholarships, Gigi said, “You need to know the importance of scholarships. Consider this—don’t you want to get paid to go to college? That extra scholarship money can be of help in case your Florida Prepaid funds run out by senior year, you need transportation, or if you want to save it.”  

As we continue to celebrate National Scholarship Month, we encourage you to get organized and apply early and often for those scholarship resources!