Florida Southern College Honors Four New George W. Jenkins Scholars at Fall Banquet

Oct 27, 2022

by FSC Staff

Among the prestige scholarships that Florida Southern College offers are the George W. Jenkins Scholarships, presented annually to incoming freshmen students.

The scholarships, which are carried through to graduation, recognize academic excellence, as well as participation and leadership in school or community organizations, evidence of a strong work ethic, and the motivation to succeed. All winners have demonstrated financial need, and an emphasis on overcoming adversity, including but not limited to economic, personal, and family obstacles, while achieving academic success.

The 2022-23 freshmen recipients are Caleb Brady, Carter Creese, Maggie Jordan, and Elizabeth Sikes. Each was able to express their gratitude to Publix Charities, Inc., represented by Trustee Dr. Barney Barnett ’65, at a recent reception held in the Eleanor Searle Drawing Room at Florida Southern College. The four freshmen were joined by 13 returning upperclassmen who are also Jenkins Scholars, FSC faculty and staff, and representatives from Publix Charities, Inc.

“It just feels like our family is back together,” President Dr. Anne B. Kerr said as she welcomed the scholarship recipients and guests to the banquet. “That’s absolutely fabulous.”

During her remarks, Dr. Kerr extolled the virtues of “Mr. George,” as she affectionately referred to George W. Jenkins, the Publix Super Markets founder. She paraphrased the set of six principles Mr. George strongly believed in:

  • Be there
  • Giving is the only way to get
  • Invest in others
  • Respect the dignity of the individual
  • The customer is queen and king
  • Prepare for opportunity
Aerial view of Berlin

“Maybe there’s no person on the face of the earth who has done a better job of that than Mr. George Jenkins,” Dr. Kerr said in regard to the principle of investing in others.

Dr. Kerr went on to say everyone can invest in others not just financially, but in how they support one another in reaching goals. She told the scholars that they were chosen for their scholarships because of their accomplishments, their potential, their dreams, and their ability and willingness to work hard. She congratulated them and wished them well on their journey.  She added that she was incredibly grateful that they were a part of the Florida Southern College community.

The freshmen Jenkins Scholars each used their time at the podium to express their condolences to the Jenkins and Barnett families for the loss of the late Dr. Carol Jenkins Barnett ’79 and to show appreciation for the life changing assistance they received.

Caleb Brady '26

Caleb Brady is the third son of a single mother who said he loves being at Florida Southern. He shared that while he was in high school his mom had to work multiple jobs to support her sons. He spoke about his mother no longer having to wonder how she would be able to pay for his college education.

“To say that you changed my life would be an understatement,” Brady explained. “Because of the people in this room, I have the ability to bring financial stability back to my household, and one day change other’s lives the way that you’ve changed mine.”

Carter Creese '26

Carter Creese’s father is a single, stay-at-home father, who takes care of her special needs sister, Avery.

“As a zero-income household, we were constantly figuring out how to make money stretch,” Creese said. “The Jenkins Scholarship has given me the opportunity to pursue my dream degree, with current aspirations of becoming an occupational therapist. My passion is fueled by the idea that I have to be successful, not only for myself, but for Avery too. Thank you for making my dream attainable, a gift that I will eternally be grateful for.”

Maggie Jordan '26

Maggie Jordan was accepted into a dual enrollment program at the State College of Florida at age 12, prior to her acceptance at FSC. At 15, she graduated from high school and completed her AA from the State College of Florida honors program. She took a gap year after her early high school graduation and worked at Publix. She said during her time as a cashier, she learned a great deal about Mr. George’s journey.

“My father passed away when I was five, shrinking our already small family of three down to two, my mom and me,” Jordan said. “You’ve changed my life and I intend to use that good fortune, coupled with dedication and hard work, to create a legacy of success and empathy that Mr. George himself would be proud of.”

Elizabeth Sikes '26

Thanks to her Jenkins Scholarship, Elizabeth Sikes is able to be an active member of the FSC swim team. Sikes credited her mother and her sisters for helping her find the strength she needed to push through the difficult times and focus instead on her academics and athletics.

“I was struggling with accepting the fact that I might have to give up my dream, but with one phone call it all changed,” Sikes said. “Being awarded the Jenkins Scholarship opened a world of joy and opportunity that I was terrified I was going to have to close forever. I feel overwhelmingly privileged to have been awarded the title of Jenkins Scholar.”

Tina Johnson, Advisor to the CEO at Publix Super Markets Charities, Inc., used the evening as an opportunity to catch up with the current Jenkins Scholars and find out how each of them was doing, not just academically, but on a personal level. Students at the banquet were excited to see “Miss Tina” in person. They presented her with a bouquet of red roses to show their appreciation for the work she does on their behalf.

“It’s the best thing we’re involved in,” Johnson said. “A lot of these students are first gen students and if they’re not, they’ve really overcome some special hardships. So, to be able to help a student who has really not had it easy in life and to give them an opportunity to at least not have to worry about the financial side, that’s really special.”

Prior to making presentations to each new Jenkins Scholar, Dr. Barney Barnett reflected on how George W. Jenkins initiated the scholarship program. He shared that Mr. George advised him and his late wife, Carol, that he wanted to start a scholarship program, which they later implemented.

“This is the best thing we do at Publix Charities,” Dr. Barnett stated. “There are sixty students getting this great award and we’re proud of them, and all of you.”

For more information on the Jenkins Scholarships, go here.