A Medical Assistant Technician student the Margate Campus of Florida Career College (FCC), Felicia Collins, overcame a learning disability and a significant midlife change in her career direction to earn one of 10 triannual scholarships awarded by the FAPSC (Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges) Foundation.
Felicia Collins struggled to keep up with her peers as a kid in school, especially when it came to reading and writing. She didn’t understand why it took so much more effort for her compared to the other students in her class. The daily struggles led to self-esteem and behavioral problems that only seemed to make her situation worse.
“School was pretty hard for me when I was young. I got picked on a lot. It was tough,” she said.
What Felicia and her teachers didn’t know at the time was that she has a learning disability called dyslexia. The cause of dyslexia is linked to variances in parts of the brain that process language, and it is believed to be genetic. It wasn’t until she was in high school that she was properly diagnosed.
“The learning issues and struggles persisted all the way through the ninth grade, but things really changed when I enrolled into a vocational high school,” she said. “There, I had instructors who cared about the learning process and helped me understand my own learning process. It was really life changing.”
“I had teachers that taught me the tools I needed to retain information and to always…always ask questions until everything is clear,” she added.
With this newfound support, Felicia discovered she is quite capable. Her self-esteem blossomed as she focused on learning the culinary trade, and she graduated from that specialty high school at the age of 17. In the following years, she worked her way up the career ladder in the restaurant business, eventually becoming the manager of a franchise food location.
“I was living my best life as a manager of a restaurant,” she said. “Then I got a call one day saying I would need to take custody of my three-month-old grandson. I thought, no problem I can do this.”
But Felicia soon discovered that the demanding work and long hours of her job were not compatible with raising a child. She had a difficult decision to make.
Finding a New Path
“I decided to quit my job and go back to school to pursue a different career,” Felicia said.
During her first week of classes after being out of school for over 25 years, the challenges Felicia faced in her youth reemerged. But, so did the learning strategies she learned in high school. She also found support from the staff and instructors at FCC.
“Thank God for an instructor that cares enough to help students,” she said. “I was really overwhelmed at first, but Ms. Pierre really worked with me and kept me motivated. I realized I needed to be clear about my goals. I am doing this with a definite purpose – to make a better future for my grandson. I am 45-years-old and going back to school to show him that age is not a factor, no matter what your difficulties are, or what your barriers are, you can still do it.”
“Felicia is a superhero here on campus. She not only motivates, but she also encourages, guides and mentors other students in the classroom,” said FCC Medical Assistant Technician Instructor Nadine Pierre. “She has demonstrated a great attitude and has shown incredible dedication towards achieving success. She continues to thrive in her academic studies with top grades and attendance. Felicia has a true passion driving her.”
Selected for a Special Scholarship
Felicia learned about a special scholarship from FAPSC Foundation and decided to apply.
FCC is a member of the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges (FAPSC), which serves as an advocate for career schools and colleges in the state. The FAPSC Foundation is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization founded for the sole purpose of providing tuition assistance to qualifying individuals interested in pursuing education through FAPSC member schools.
Three times per year, the Foundation awards 10 students with scholarships from among its member schools. Felicia was selected from the applicants in the spring cycle for 2021 for a $1,000 scholarship.
“Ms. Pierre encouraged me to submit an application for a scholarship,” Felicia said. “I wasn’t really expecting to be picked but thought putting in the time and effort would be worth it if I did.”
“My advice to her was go for it. You will be a great candidate,” Nadine said. “I am so happy she was selected and so proud of her because she makes me want to do better each and every day as a person.”
“I am incredibly grateful to the FAPSC Foundation for this very helpful scholarship. Thank you so much,” Felicia said. “It is one more motivation for me to keep going.”
“The FAPSC Foundation was founded for students just like Felicia. The sole mission of the foundation is to offer scholarship possibilities to students attending FAPSC member schools,” said Linda Weldon, FAPSC Foundation Executive Director. “Each cycle, as I read through the applications and accompanying personal essays, I am touched by these stores. Each is unique to the individual but there is a common thread that is woven through them all—the importance of education and traI’veining to facilitate change for them and their families. Many have lost jobs due to Covid and are using this opportunity to move into fields they have only dreamed of. Many are single parents and often even supporting other members of their family. Many are first generation college students and they are anxious to set an example for their children.
“It is the sincere hope of the Foundation that the $1,000 Scholarship that has been awarded them will send the message that they are not alone. That there are others out there who want to help them achieve their goals,” Linda added.
To learn more about the FAPSC Foundation visit fapscfoundation.org.