USF Sarasota-Manatee senior Jennifer Serafino is set to graduate in December with a degree in professional and technical communication. Not long ago, a series of family hardships jeopardized her college education.
Thanks to scholarships Serafino received through Bank of America Brunch on the Bay, USFSM’s premier fundraising event for student scholarships, she stayed on track.
“Both of my parents have had medical issues in the past year so it’s been really hard on us. I couldn’t have paid my tuition without these scholarships,” said Serafino, a Bradenton resident. “The Brunch on the Bay scholarship gave me a chance for a better and brighter future. It helped me to take charge of my education. USFSM has significantly changed my life. It’s shaped me into who I am.”
This year’s Bank of America Brunch on the Bay is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 3, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the USFSM campus, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Individual tickets are $225, and sponsorship levels range from $2,500 for a half table to $25,000, which covers slightly more than four years of tuition and includes two VIP tables. For tickets or more information, visit usfsm.edu/giving/brunch-on-the-bay/purchase-sponsorships-and-tickets.aspx or call (941) 359-4603.
Brunch on the Bay showcases USFSM’s role as a local university that provides a high-quality, convenient and affordable education for students who become valued members of the workforce and vibrant contributors to the Sarasota-Manatee community.
The relationship between those students and the communities that surround them lies at the heart of Bank of America’s decision to serve as this year’s Brunch title sponsor.
“Bank of America understands the importance of building strong communities,” Bank of America Market President for Sarasota and Manatee Counties Mike McCoy said. “We know that if we’re going to be a successful, sustainable company that we need to do business in communities that are successful and sustainable. Higher education is an important part in building a successful and strong community, and a talented workforce is vital if we are going to retain our existing industries as well as attract new businesses, higher paying jobs and a higher quality of living.”
Since its inception 26 years ago, Brunch has provided nearly 1,800 scholarships to USFSM students, most of whom are from Sarasota and Manatee counties. In many cases, these scholarships help students, who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford the cost of education, earn their degrees.
“What USF has done well is they’ve adapted to the local environment,” said Pete Petersen, a USFSM alum, Brunch co-chair and CEO of Sarasota-based Dealers United. “They’ve adapted to local business needs, and to student needs as well, and they’ve done a really good job making sure we’re connecting students to our local businesses and forming a tighter community. As a business, the biggest challenge we have is access to talent, and USF grads tend to stay here longer. They’re invested in the community and that makes a difference.”
According to Lee Williams, regional vice chancellor for advancement and alumni engagement at USF Sarasota-Manatee, “The organizing committee has developed sponsorship packages based on the annual cost of tuition at USFSM. For example, a $5,000 sponsorship covers the majority of tuition expenses for one year, and that level of sponsorship corresponds to a table of eight at Brunch, plus considerable recognition and exposure through the event.”
In addition to raising scholarship funds that help USFSM students achieve their educational and career goals, Brunch also connects donors with students.
“Oftentimes, donors don’t get see the impact of their donation, but at Brunch on the Bay, donors are able to meet students who have been helped through scholarships,” said Spring 2019 Outstanding Graduate Lukas Oest, who now heads global marketing at Bradenton-based Florida Worldwide Citrus. “The scholarship made a difference in my own life. Specifically, it helped in my final semester when I was wasn’t sure how I would pay for tuition to finish up and graduate. The scholarship really came through, and now I hope someday to do the same for another USFSM student by contributing to Brunch.”
Visit usfsm.edu/giving/brunch-on-the-bay/index.aspx for more about Brunch on the Bay.
Visit usfsm.edu to learn more about the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.