By Tenae Taylor
Tis’ the season of giving.
Brianna Collins, a Florida A&M University (FAMU) School of Business and Industry (SBI) graduate student, used her grant funds from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) Hennessy Fellows program to host a series of holiday events.
When Collins was selected as one of the 10 TMCF Hennessy Fellows for the inaugural cohort, she was asked to pitch for a grant of up to $10,000 to implement a community project. She knew immediately she wanted to give back to FAMU.
“I knew that I wanted to give back to my Florida A&M University because this prestigious and beloved institution has afforded me many opportunities,” Collins said.
After learning the student population of homeless, foster care and international students were high in numbers at the University, Collins aimed to craft a project for students who were not able to go home for the holidays or who may not have a place to call home.
With her $8,000 in winnings, she crafted three holiday meal events set to directly benefit FAMU students and increase the sense of belonging on campus during the holiday season.
On Wed. Nov. 27, Collins held a Thanksgiving dinner called, “Rattlers’ Home for the Holidays,” and on Thursday, Dec. 6, she hosted a winter holiday luncheon.
“The event was a great way to socializing with my fellow students during the holiday since I am unable to go home and celebrate with my family,” said Taofeek Akintola, a Ph.D. student from Nigeria who is studying electrical engineering.
“It makes me feel at home and to know that people are out there who still care about that are not family.”
Maiya Mikell, a graduate student from Lakeland, Fla., was equally delighted.
“I had an amazing time at the Holiday Luncheon. I really loved how it brought a sense of togetherness to FAMU. This is especially needed during the end of the semester because students are feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of completing final assignments and exams,” said Mikell, an MBA and master of science in supply chain management candidate. “Overall, the event was a great distraction from the chaos that was going on in my world. It definitely encompasses what is the true Famuly experience.”
Collins received lots of support from Dedra O’Neal, the director of the scholarship program, and William Hudson Jr., Ph.D., vice president of Student Affairs.
More than two hundred students attended the two events.
“What made my events special and a success was the volunteers who dedicated their time and energy to the FAMU student community,” Collins said.
Collins is planning another Home for the Holidays event in Easter.