Resident: Braylen Dixon
House: Gresham-Kite Pilot

It is absolutely insane to think that I am beginning my third year of college this fall. It’s even crazier to say that I’ve had the opportunity to live in GKP for just as long. I never really recognized the significance of the phrase “time flies” until I began my college career. Although time seems to be moving at a pace faster than I can keep up with, I wouldn’t have it any other way because I get to spend the time of my life with my girls at GKP.

In August of 2016, I stuffed my tiny (adorable) Honda CR-V — her name was Lola — with everything I could possibly need to get through my first year of college. With my mom and sister in tow, we slowly made our way down I-75 from Atlanta to Fort Myers. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Granted, since my mother had lived in Polk and Pilot during her studies at FSU, she eagerly tried to give me some sort of expectation. I tried to explain to her that many, many years had passed since she had lived in SSF and that she didn’t know what she was talking about because so much had probably changed. Well, I was wrong (yes, of course your mom is always right, I know, I know). What she had talked to me about was the incredible community that she found through SSF and how she had been able to establish literally lifelong friendships because of her time in the houses. She informed me about the amazing opportunities that SSF would provide me and take an enormous weight off of her and I’s shoulders.

As soon as I moved into GKP, I soon saw the truth in her words soaking into my experiences in the house. Rachel, my house manager at the time, was where I first saw my mom’s truth. Rachel was kind, funny, and as responsible as she was busy. I remember being mesmerized by her ability to navigate so many situations in the house as well as maintain her own personal life. I also remember knowing I was going to be okay living in the house because of Rachel, and the way she made me and every other resident feel like we were a part of her family. It’s because of my mom and Rachel, who both encouraged me to apply for house manager, that I did, and to my absolute delight, was awarded the position. I begin in the spring, and while I am insanely nervous, I am equally if not more excited to make my mark and continue the SSF legacy.

That being said, being so far away from Tallahassee and Gainesville takes its toll sometimes. This year, I attended house manager and ambassador training in Gainesville, and was nervous, like I always am in new environments. Looking back, I was anxious for absolutely no reason. I loved everyone I met and found myself engulfed in our discussions and even in the ways that each house works in such a unique manner. Leaving my newfound family was bittersweet but I now have a broader insight into SSF that I get to bring into my own house although we’re just a little further away. It is hard seeing the larger communities at those schools since we’re the only house at FGCU but I think that makes my girls and my house that much more special to me.

I love knowing that we’re a part of a larger, dedicated community, and that we’re just playing it long-distance. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world. The bonds, memories, friendships, love, tears, laughs. All of it. My SSF story isn’t even close to being over, but I’m so glad it started. I can’t wait to start my new chapter as house manager of the Gresham-Kite Pilot Scholarship House and experience more growth and love because of the opportunities the Southern Scholarship Foundation has given me. So, thank you SSF. I think I speak for all of us when I say we wouldn’t be here, thriving and glowing, like we are now, and that’s thanks to you.