Resident: Alicia Bush
House: Hansen-FAMU

On May 19, 2015, I officially completed high school. I walked across the stage, wearing a sentimental green dress beneath my robe, feeling relieved and ready for the next step in my academic career. Although I had not received a scholarship, hopefulness rested on my shoulders, and I believed that a way would be prepared for me. I just needed to get there first.

That August, I moved into the Palmetto South campus apartments with four other students. At first, I was nervous to live with so many people, but I made some great friends, great memories, and learned how to cooperate with others. This untraditional living arrangement would prepare me for SSF, the housing scholarship that helps me finance college and has facilitated so much of my personal growth.

As my freshman year came to an end, I had to find sustainable ways to finance my education. One of my school’s administrators told me about the Southern Scholarship Foundation and how the community living arrangement provides rent-free housing for students pursuing higher education. I conducted some research, viewed a few YouTube videos, and decided this opportunity was more than valuable. I called the office to see how I could apply for the next semester. If I remember correctly, the deadline had already passed.

Without the housing scholarship, attending the out-of-state school would be difficult. I remember enthusiastically naming off reasons I would make the perfect SSF resident. The woman on the phone, whose name I sadly cannot remember, did more than what was required and suggested my name to Barby, the former Director of Student Affairs. She took a chance and advocated for someone she had never seen. I was later accepted, and the confidence I felt at graduation became evident. A way had been made, and I moved into the Hansen House my sophomore year.

Community dwelling has been an nontraditional, yet life changing experience. Living in a home with 16 other people sounds daunting, but it has been the best opportunity to learn about people, make friendships, and gain a network of like-minded individuals. Together, we work to make this experience great for everyone. We learn the importance of honoring commitments, cooperating with one another, and finding beauty in everyone.

Young adults living in a home has also been the perfect place to grow personally and gain independence. I have witnessed and experienced the growth that comes with being accountable for a space. Ordinary students become leaders. Ramen noodle microwavers become top chefs. Most importantly, strangers turn into sisters, here.

SSF has been a strong presence throughout my college years. From cleaning as a house on early mornings to blasting loud music down the hallways, I have found extraordinary meaning in the most ordinary moments. Academics are important, but learning in a classroom is not the only useful knowledge. SSF’s motto, Education for Life, has shown me what it means to be a student to life. When I graduate from FAMU and leave Hansen, I will carry this mantra along with me.