Morgan Murray, an Honors graduate with a bachelor of arts degree in community health, was ready for her close-up outside Howard Hall on the edge of the Library Lawn one bright morning.
For a student who has the work ethic, time-management skills and guidance to graduate with an FGCU degree within four years and start her career, having the opportunity to share her story and help inspire other students is the best way to pay it forward. When the morning interview was finished, Murray headed back to her home and job in Deland on the state’s east coast with a tuition-rebate check from FGCU for $3,099.60.
Murray received a refund for her first-year, out-of-pocket FGCU tuition costs, compliments of the Soar in 4 program that incentivizes students to graduate in four years with a career plan and get to work in Florida — just as Murray did. For specifics on how to qualify for a Soar in 4 tuition rebate, visit the program webpage.
For Murray, 21, and other FGCU students like her, the steps toward Soar in 4 graduation success are simple: declare a major; commit to taking at least 15 credit hours each semester; meet with academic advisors once annually to make sure you’re on track; participate in an Internship or Co-operative Program; use FGCU’s Career Development Servicesto create a resume and professional game plan; fulfill all degree requirements; then secure a job and embark on the rest of your life flying like an Eagle. That’s how you may receive a financial reward from the university for being a responsible student.
Murray was quick to emphasize that her motivation wasn’t just about the money. “Getting to graduation in four years was the goal, and Soar in 4 set me up to reach that goal,” said the graduate of Deland High School. “When I would go to Career Development Services, or go to a career fair, or meet with an academic advisor, there was always a goal, a plan,” she said.
Murray completed two internships related to environmental sustainability in Collier County, working in water quality and treatment during one, and helping people on public assistance obtain fresh food at farmers’ markets through the other. “My internships taught me how important communication skills are and really helped me develop a strong work ethic,” Murray said. “I was also able to build solid relationships in the community that lasted after the internships were over.”
Even though she was a full-time student and finished two internships, Murray also worked as a pharmacy technician at a local supermarket, was a member of the National Honor Society and was active with the Food Forest at FGCU, which came in handy from a nutrition standpoint as she developed skills she now uses in her secondary career as a wellness coach. She also “loved to rollerblade, ride my bike, go paddleboarding and spend a lot of time at Bonita Beach,” where she also mixed a considerable amount of studying with her sunbathing.
“It was hard, but finding a very good balance is the key,” said Murray, who recommends that students use a planner. “I would write everything down.”
Now, Murray has moved to the next phase of her life. She works for a company that builds and installs components in the electric grid and gets to do some in-state business traveling. She’s also putting the wellness-coach side of herself to work by preparing to open a nutrition-related business in New Smyrna Beach, thanks in part to the Soar in 4 rebate check from FGCU that went directly into her savings account.
“By giving our students the tools that they need to, like Morgan, turn their dreams into a reality, we are fulfilling our purpose as an institution of higher education,” said Christina Badali, Soar in 4 program manager. “By keeping this incredible talent within the state of Florida, we are further realizing our mission of giving back to the community.”
Murray describes her FGCU experience as “inspiring,” and, appropriately, this is the catchword in the university’s own description of The FGCU Effect: Inspiring those who inspire others. “Once you know what your goal is, what you’re working toward, don’t give up,” Murray said. “Soar in 4 is an amazing program that will set you up for success.”
- Learn more about Soar in 4