By Christina Compere-Minor
David E. and Mary J. Pollard vowed future generations would not experience the financial burdens they endured as students in the 1960’s at Florida A&M University. Accordingly, the Pollards made a gift agreement with FAMU to financially support students in the STEM and Teacher Education Programs.
It was their desire to help senior students with great potential, yet substantial financial need in paying in-state tuition. As a student, Mary J. Pollard juggled several jobs just to earn enough money for tuition. Unable to buy her own books, she relied on friends for access to books and tutoring. David E. Pollard became her favorite tutor. Together, this determined couple graduated from FAMU and decades later, retired as beloved and honored South Florida educators.
This year, Zaire Johnson, a senior chemistry and pre-dentistry student, received the Pollard Scholarship, which pays $3,750 for the fall semester and $3,750 for the spring semester. Johnson aspires to continue her education in dental school and obtain her doctorate in dental medicine. She will then go on to serve underserved communities and advocate for the importance of dental hygiene and health through dental services.
Since 2018, Stephanie L. Foster, Ph.D., has wholeheartedly executed her parents’ commitment to FAMU.
“The David E. and Mary J. Pollard Scholarship is my parents’ clear expression of the value and need for FAMU graduates in our communities, nation, and world,” said Foster. “It’s a privilege and honor to fulfill my parents’ desire to free selected FAMU seniors from tuition and book payment concerns. Money speaks.”
Each year, the Pollard Family strives to recommend the recipient who most compellingly communicates fulfillment of the scholarship criteria and readiness to steward the opportunities presented by scholarship award. This year, Johnson’s ability to communicate alignment of her purpose, credentials, aspirations, and zeal stood out among her peers.
Johnson was born in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and raised in Tampa. Quickly realizing her mother was not in a financial position to assist with her higher education, Johnson applied for as many scholarships and grants that were aimed to help students like herself.
“The first thing that caught my eye when applying to the David E. and Mary J. Pollard Scholarship was their interest in assisting students who are STEM majors. As a STEM major myself, it is very hard to find scholarships catered to my field,” said Johnson. “So, to see a scholarship opportunity that focused on my field of study allowed me to feel more confident about applying because I would be able to talk about a topic I’m completely passionate about.”
Johnson wants students to apply for every scholarship that is available to them.
“You may not get every scholarship that you’ve applied for, but the one you’re meant to have will come to you,” said Johnson. “The fact that you took the time out of your schedule to show scholarship donors the type of student that you are will always be impressive.”
FAMU Students can apply for the David E. and Mary J. Pollard Scholarship by logging onto the University’s scholarship portal at famuscholarships.com. The portal will open for the 2023-2024 academic year starting April 2023.