I’m giving back to the university that took a chance on me.
Each person’s journey from there to here is unique, subject to twists in the road and influenced by decisions made along the way. For Braxton Rhone, (’06, Finance) who was, by his own admission, a less-than-stellar student in high school, the twist came when FGCU denied him admission. His decision to appeal his rejection – and its successful outcome – had a profound influence on the trajectory of his life.
“As part of the appeals process, I promised to work hard. I made good on that promise, and it’s stood the test of time,” he said. Rhone graduated just shy of honors and today is a certified financial planner with Fidelity Investments.
Jill Rhone’s (’07 B.S., ’08 M.S.W., Social Work) journey also took her FGCU, where she received a scholarship to Scholarship House on campus. As one of many service projects, she traveled to the Dominican Republic twice. “FGCU opened my eyes to the world of service,” she said. Like her husband, these experiences, too, stood the test of time, and together with rigorous academics prepared her well for her future. Today, she is Director of Admissions at Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers.
Which brings us full circle to the creation of the Rhone Family Foundation Scholarship Endowed Fund, of which Braxton Rhone said, “I’m giving back to the university that took a chance on me, that prepared myself and Jill for the life we now lead.”
Jill Rhone added, “FGCU broadened my horizons. I learned that the world is bigger than me. My experiences while at FGCU spurred a passion in me to do service, to move outside my comfort zone a bit.”
Together, the couple wants to help other students enhance their lives in ways that might not be available to them without some financial assistance. The Rhone Scholarship targets high-achieving juniors and seniors who might be struggling financially in the waning years of their college career.
“Jill and I feel blessed. When we had the opportunity to create the scholarship, we jumped on it. Was it a sacrifice? Yes. But FGCU sacrificed to have me there, and now it’s someone else’s time.
“In my mind, the FGCU Effect is a sense of community and a sense of involvement. It’s about matriculating successfully, making the community a better place and giving back. It’s about doing what you’ve got to do while in school and doing what you should do when out.”
In addition to their gratitude to FGCU for all its support, both Rhones are quick to thank their parents for “encouraging us and guiding us through our college years,” said Braxton Rhone.