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Making a Difference Mondays, February 5

Monday, February 5, 2018

Donor Spotlight: Dr. Angela M. Garcia Falconetti, CFRE

President, Polk State College

There is no greater gift to our students than supporting them in their Polk State journey.

By donating to the Polk State College Foundation, we give hope to students who thought a degree was unattainable. We give them access to higher levels of learning they otherwise could not afford and we give them the opportunity to transform their lives through the power of education.

These are the reasons I donate to the Foundation and I am grateful that Polk State is near and dear to the hearts of so many people who share in our mission of providing access to affordable, quality higher education. Polk State is dedicated to providing students with the knowledge and skills they need to be the next generation of successful leaders and employees. Thus, your donations to the Foundation contribute to the prosperity of our community.

The generosity of our donors allow the Foundation to award nearly $1.5 million each year to our students, who are not shy about expressing their utmost appreciation for the transformative opportunities made possible by these scholarships. Their stories of perseverance and success are true testaments to the impact donors have on the lives of our students. That includes the philanthropic contributions of our hard-working, selfless employees who, in 2017 alone, donated $56,560 to the Foundation.

Together, we are changing lives. Thank you for supporting our students.

Best regards,

Dr. Angela M. Garcia Falconetti, CFRE
President, Polk State College

Alumni Spotlight: Cindy Hartley Ross
December 2017 Distinguished Alumna

Cindy Hartley Ross is a Lakeland native and a graduate of Lakeland High School. She received her Polk State Associate in Arts degree in 1979 and studied Special Education at Troy State University.

Community service has been ubiquitous in Ross’s life since serving as a hospital volunteer in middle school. In college, she was active in her Alpha Delta Pi sorority. While her children were young, she volunteered in a number of leadership roles in the Polk County School District. For her efforts, she was named Volunteer of the Year at two different schools, and received the President’s Volunteer Service Award and the Making Kids Count Award.

Ross was appointed to serve on the Florida Commission on the Status of Women in 2010. She currently serves on its Executive Committee and Foundation Board. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the Florida House in Washington, DC. The only state embassy in the capital, the Florida House showcases Florida’s culture and attributes, bringing national attention to the state’s assets. Ross also acts as Program Chairperson for the Republican Congressional Spouses in Washington, DC and is a member of The Congressional Club, a bipartisan spouse’s group.

Locally, Ross is a member of the Polk Arts Alliance (PAA) Resource Council, having served the organization as president twice. She also is a member of the Board of Governors for the Polk Museum of Art. Formerly, she has served on the Advisory Board of Habitat for Humanity; the Lakeland Board of Directors for Girls, Inc.; and the Junior League of Greater Lakeland.

In 2015, Ross was reappointed by Governor Scott to serve on the Polk State District Board of Trustees, having previously served for 12 consecutive years (1999-2011). During this time, she held the positions of Vice Chair and Chair. Additionally, she has served on the Polk State College Foundation Board of Directors, was President of the Polk State Alumni Association, and represented Polk State at the state and national level in trustee-related organizations.

Ross’s involvement with the Polk State College Foundation began in 1999 while she was a member of the Republican Women’s Club. She saw the benefit of student scholarships and encouraged the group to endow a scholarship for Polk’s students. She has since been instrumental in the creation of additional scholarships, including memorial scholarships to honor two George Jenkins High School students, and two more scholarships in her family’s name.

Cindy Ross has been married to Dennis since 1983. Their two adult children are both Polk State graduates: Shane graduated in 2012 and Travis in 2014. Additionally, more than fifteen members of Ross’s extended family have graduated from Polk State.

Student Spotlight: Jean Woody Luxama
Earthquake Survival Creates Foundation for Career Path

Jean Woody Luxama has lived a life that few could imagine. He was born in Haiti on the third floor of an abandoned building. His father was not a part of his life, and his mother worked three jobs to make ends meet. According to Jean Woody, “Life was difficult in Haiti, and it was hard for me to watch my mom work so hard just to put food on the table for me and my two sisters.”

January 12, 2010 was the day that changed Jean Woody’s life forever. A 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti, killing over 200,000 people and injuring more than 800,000. Jean Woody witnessed the chaotic scenes of local hospitals overflowing with people, while materials and qualified medical personnel were scarce. “Basic sanitary supplies, such as medical gloves, ran out quickly,” notes Jean Woody, “and many surgeries were performed without anesthesia.”

In the aftermath of the earthquake, Jean Woody found his life’s purpose – to become a cardiac surgeon and help people in critical need of care.

After moving to the United States with his mother and sisters, Jean Woody became focused on his goals. Although he knew that he faced many hurdles to achieve his dream of a college degree, he set personal goals and worked hard to maintain a high grade point average. “With my family’s finances spread thin and then moving to a new country,” he recalls, “I was not sure that college would ever be a possibility for me. However, I did know that good grades would give me a better chance to succeed.”

Jean Woody started Polk State as a dual-enrolled student while he was attending Auburndale High School. He has been working through biology and chemistry coursework that can be applied toward a bachelor’s degree when he transfers to a university. With the help of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Dream the Dream Scholarship, Jean Woody is on his way to reaching his goal of becoming a doctor. He also has a deep commitment to volunteerism, and has logged over 1,000 hours of service at the Auburndale Community Center. According to Jean Woody, “At the center, I’ve used basketball as a tool over the last five years to help both kids and adults stay out of trouble and off the streets.”

Jean Woody’s dream after becoming a cardiac surgeon is to return to Haiti to help fill the gap in medical personnel that continues to exist. “I hope to take care for and protect the community, especially in the areas that lack adequate medical personnel and facilities. There is no greater satisfaction than bringing about change that will affect somebody’s life and health for the better.”

Executive Director’s Greetings

Greetings Colleagues!

You should have recently received the annual Polk State College Employee Giving Campaign pamphlet in the mail. Each year that we create this brochure, I am eager to see the creative design produced by CNP (Clark Nikdel Powell). This year, I was struck by the poignant beauty of the eagle on the front of the card. Its symbolism is perfect for this College and its people–the broad wingspan mirrors the open arms and open doors we offer students, and the majestic flight reflects the distance students soar thanks to the positive impact made by generous donors like you.

The Foundation staff members feel privileged to read the many thank you notes that scholarship recipients send. Some are truly awe-inspiring. Many are from students who would otherwise not be able to finish school without the hand-up provided through Emergency Scholarship awards. This essential source of funding is primarily supported by employee contributions. And, in addition to easing the financial burden, a scholarship provides a student with something more–confidence. Foundation scholarships send the message to recipients that we believe in their dreams, and we have faith in their success. A scholarship can provide a frame shift in a person’s life, actions, goals, and future. For this reason, each scholarship donation is very important. As Margaret Mead famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Thanks to each of you for the beautiful work you do and the contributions that you make. With your generosity you are changing lives and changing our community –and through it, the world.


With all sincerity,

Tracy M. Porter
Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director, Foundation