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Enchanted Evening of Possibilities

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Anticipating a school dance was exciting enough for fifth-grader Earl Goodine. But the surprise that awaited him beyond that cafeteria door was a million times more thrilling than what he ever imagined. Discover how his dreams for a dazzling future became a possibility that magical night.

On a spring night in 2004, Earl Goodine walked into a school dance at North Lakeland Elementary, ready for an evening of fun and celebration. Little did he know, that evening would change his life forever.

As Earl entered the dance, he saw his parents and heard his name being called to go to the stage. He was presented with a scholarship through the Fancelli Family Future Leaders Scholarship Program and was overcome with tears as he realized what this would mean to him and his family. “My mom and I had always talked about college, and so I worked hard to get good grades. When I found out that I could go to college for free, I was excited. As I have gotten older though, I [have come to] really understand how much this scholarship has helped my parents with the financial struggles of sending me to college.”

Knowing that he would be the first in his family to finish college on his father’s side, Earl not only felt the pressure from his family to do well, but he also knew that others had made a financial investment for him to get an education. This made him determined to make the most of the scholarship opportunity.

Earl graduated from McKeel Academy in 2010 and began classes in August at Polk State College on the Lakeland Campus. One of the classes he is currently enrolled in is Intermediate Algebra (MAT 1033). “At McKeel, they had us hit the math classes pretty hard, so my Intermediate Algebra class is going well.”

Currently, Earl is taking classes two days a week to attain a business degree, and his other days are spent working at Tigertown in the cafeteria, preparing meals for the minor league baseball players. Even though this is his first job, Earl is no stranger to cooking. “My mother is a chef and my grandparents have owned several restaurants. I used to love waking up early to cook breakfast for my family. And since my mom worked long hours she would often leave food on the counter and my brother and I would cook our own meals for dinner.”

After graduating from Polk State College, Earl plans to attend culinary school in Tampa. Food is the center of his long-term goal – to one day own and operate a soul food restaurant in Lakeland.

The Polk State College Foundation is proud to be able to work with students like Earl, helping them to fulfill their dreams of getting a great education.