Te'Coya and Fatima are two outstanding members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County whose dedication to their academic success and strong character resulted in them both receiving a full-ride scholarship to Duquesne University in Pittsburgh as the 2020 Drs. Robert and Patricia Gussin Endowed Scholars.
Drs. Robert and Patricia Gussin have been changing and enhancing the lives of thousands of Boys & Girls Club members in Sarasota County since Robert joined our Board of Directors in 2011. While the couple has supported a variety of the organization's major initiatives over the years, they have a passion for providing youth with the literacy tools and educational resources they need to succeed both inside and outside of the classroom. Drs. Gussin took their commitment to our Club members' success even further in 2014, and established the Drs. Robert and Patricia Gussin Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County Endowed Scholarship at Duquesne University that provides a full-ride scholarship with educational support to at least one of our Club members each year.
Te'Coya, who attended our Louis and Gloria Flanzer Boys & Girls Club in Arcadia, and Fatima, who attended our Lee Wetherington Boys & Girls Club in Sarasota, started their collegiate journey at Duquesne University in August through the Robert and Patricia Gussin Spiritan Division of Academic Programs, an invitational summer course for freshman. The Division provides students with a comprehensive network of programs and services to help them develop the academic and social skills required in higher education to be successful learners within their chosen programs of study.
We caught up with Te'Coya and Fatima to learn what this opportunity means to them, and to hear how their freshman year is going so far.
BGCSC: What does being a Drs. Robert and Patricia Gussin Endowed Scholar mean to you?
Te'Coya: Being named a 2020 Gussin Scholar means everything. Receiving an education is a privilege that not everyone is granted. Knowing this, I am inspired to make every moment of my academic journey count – not only for myself, but for my family, my Club and my community. Being given the opportunity to attend Duquesne University on a full-ride allows me to break generational curses. Because I have people like the Gussins who are willing to invest in me, and because I have my Club, who continues to support me, every day I am here, I put in the work, believe in myself, and know I am capable of great things.
Fatima: Being named a 2020 Gussin Scholar has meant the world to me and my family. Without the incredible generosity of the Gussins, college would not have been possible – or would have only been made possible by placing my family under severe financial hardship. I am forever grateful to the Gussins for this opportunity because they have not only changed my life, but they have changed the lives of generations to come in my family. I am a first-generation student and an older sister of three. Being able to model what is possible for my sisters is a huge honor that would not be possible without the Gussins’ support, the support of my Club and the support of Duquesne University.
BGCSC: What degree are you pursuing?
Te'Coya: I am currently pursing my nursing degree (BSN). I want to become a CRNA who works in every department in the hospital, administering anesthesia to patients who will undergo various types of surgeries. CRNAs face different challenges every day but are always given the opportunity to help others, to support them when they’re at their most vulnerable and to assure them of their well-being at a time when they need assurance – all things I aspire to do.
Fatima: I am majoring in Communication Studies at Duquesne University. Being placed in leadership roles throughout my time with the Boys & Girls Clubs helped me realize how much I enjoy connecting with diverse groups of people. While I’m still figuring out what career path I’ll take after obtaining my future degree, I know I’m in the best place to receive support in my academic journey.
BGCSC: How is your freshman year going so far, especially with starting during a pandemic?
Te'Coya: My freshman year has, surprisingly, started off quite well. One would think with everything that is happening around us, that my collegiate experience would be less enjoyable…but I’ve found it’s quite the opposite. I’ve been able to meet some amazing people from different places in the world and have safely explored the beautiful city of Pittsburgh. I fall more in love with collegiate life every day.
Fatima: College has been an amazing experience so far. Duquesne has put in a lot of effort to help students adapt to this new way of life and I feel that I am still receiving an amazing college experience. Although collegiate life during a pandemic presents unique challenges for students and faculty, everyone, myself included, is learning how to navigate this new normal together. Knowing I am not alone in this transition makes me feel better.