The nuances of conflict resolution, living within a budget and by the rules aren’t lost on the 18 students living in the Gresham-Kite Pilot Scholarship House at FGCU’s North Lake Village. It’s their way of life.
The women share the cooking and cleaning and attending monthly house meetings. They hold group nights out, going to the beach, campus event or stay-at-home study sessions.
The Pilot House offers a communal environment overseen by a house manager and a board of directors composed of residents. The house receives support from the nonprofit Pilot International, both state and local chapters in Naples and Fort Myers, but the FGCU students are responsible for running things.
“When there’s an issue, it’s instantly solved, at least, that’s the goal,” says house manager Yvette Mesa, a senior biology major from Fort Lauderdale who has lived in the house throughout her college experience. “A positive attitude is contagious, and so is a negative attitude.”
Policies govern alcohol, guest visitation and other matters, but adhering to the rules has major financial benefits: Students live rent-free – a savings of about $10,000 a year. Residents are chosen based on academic excellence, character, citizenship and financial need. They must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher. The scholarships, annual operation and placement are overseen by the Southern Scholarship Foundation.
As house president, Brittany Thompson earns 70 hours of community service each semester. For the business management major from Port Charlotte, living at the house has made college affordable. She embraces the lessons it presents.
“You have to live as an adult faster than you would if you lived in a dorm or apartment, you have to budget and plan, and it turns into a habit,” she says.
The Gresham-Kite Pilot Scholarship House open in 2003. It is named for Fort Myers sisters Francine Gresham and Barbara “Bobbie” Kite, both members of the Pilot Club, who each donated $75,000. The houses are supported through “showers” that Pilot Club members stage, donating items such as cleaning supplies, groceries and furnishings.
Longtime Fort Myers resident and Pilot club member Linda Hessler says, “They’re near and dear to my heart. I envision that with their goals, they will be successful and they will take a lot of different paths in their lives. It’s a good education for them when they get in the real world.”