If you grew up in a small town, you understand how easy it is to believe your choices are limited. Some stay content by gazing up at the stars-but others reach up and grab one.

Rebecca Sheridan is a first-generation college student; neither of her parents had the opportunity to obtain a degree. But she was brave, leaving the comfort and security of her rural hometown in Texas to attend UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management. Moving here was hard enough, but more challenges arose as early as day one-even before classes started.

“I didn’t understand the enrollment process; that I needed to take the SAT or that I needed to file for financial aid, or anything,” Rebecca remembers. “I missed deadlines and opportunities because I didn’t know who or where to go to.”

The usual challenges all freshmen face are particularly daunting for first-generation students like Rebecca. Without the experience of parents to rely on, everything from the college admissions process to registering to figuring out funding is unfamiliar and formidable.

“When you’re the first in your family to attend college you feel different,” said Rebecca. “It was harder to fit in with everyone else. It’s all very intimidating.”

And then she finally caught a break: She received the First Generation in College Scholarship. “It was a wonderful surprise and made me realize that there were people out there who really wanted me to succeed and who knew I needed help,” she said. “It gave me the hope I needed.”

Buoyed by news of the award, Rebecca declared a double major in Event and Hospitality Management and is determined to take advantage of the opportunity this scholarship provides.

“UCF has opened my eyes and ears to what’s possible for my life,” said Rebecca. “I know I can go wherever I want in the world because of UCF and this scholarship.”