Donors Inspire Dreams, Grant a Life-Changing Education

Eva Bracciale
Eva Bracciale with Dr. Leslie Turner,  dean of Rinker School of Business.

Financial limitations should not be an obstacle to a Palm Beach Atlantic University education. The story of Eva Bracciale, marketing and accounting major, is a fine example. The gifts from Willard V. Bennett 1992 Private Foundation Scholarship and Col. Marty Trauger Memorial Scholarship opened the PBA door to her, and radically changed her life.

“My big sister graduated from PBA and naturally as I grew up, it became my dream school,” said Bracciale at Scholarship Day, which President William M. B. Fleming, Jr. appropriately labeled it as a “celebration of gratitude.”  

The top floor of the Weyenberg Center was transformed into an elegant banquet hall with blue linen tablecloths adorned with a rich, warm fall harvest motif. A crowd of scholarship donors and recipients gathered together, as they heard Bracciale tell her story.

“I wanted to become a capable and critical thinker, I wanted to be a committed follower of Christ, and I wanted to be a dedicated servant leader,” said Bracciale, whose wish was so closely aligned with PBA’s mission to enlighten minds, enrich souls and extend hands.

Clearly, she was ready to work hard and go the extra mile, but while she wanted to embrace every opportunity that came her way, she saw her ambitions as an impossible dream.

At some point, she convinced herself to give up on her dream to come to PBA. “Single moms with seven kids don’t always get to send them to a private university,” said Bracciale, who conformed to her mom’s budget and applied to other schools.

One day, she heard from Kim Ladd, director of career development, who told her that the application fee for PBA had been waived temporarily. Bracciale went ahead and applied, all the while thinking, “if they accept me, I’m going to have to turn around and say no.” 

Weeks later, she received a call from Tori Uhlman, admissions counselor, who told her she’d been accepted. And while Bracciale was ecstatic to hear the news, it was tempered by the reality that she couldn’t afford PBA. So lost in her own world of despair, she missed everything Uhlman was saying. So, Bracciale asked Uhlman to repeat it. “Eva, your tuition has been completely covered by scholarships,” Uhlman said. And in a moment of total confusion, Bracciale replied, “I’m sorry, can you repeat that again?”

Bracciale’s dream had been aligned with scholarship support and her dream of becoming a Sailfish had suddenly come true.

For 50 years, Palm Beach Atlantic University has made it a top priority to remove financial obstacles to admission for students like Bracciale. With every scholarship, it’s maximizing every student’s access to the full range of programs, possibilities and opportunities the University has to offer.

The University is a magnet to those students seeking an excellent education in a Christ-centered environment, helping them become a beacon of light wherever they go. Those who come in contact with them like donor of the Servant Leader Scholarship, Rob Morris, owner and operator of the Chick-fil-A franchise on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard, in West Palm Beach, regard their character, professionalism, preparedness and individual code of ethics, not only in the workforce, but also in their personal and public lives.    

“In 2004, when the Chick-fil-A franchise came to South Florida, we heard a recurring theme: you have to get involved with PBA,” said Morris, who came to PBA one day and offered this recruiting pitch to the students: “Come interview with Chick-fil-A!” He ended up getting 10 PBA students to apply that day, confirming this as one of the defining moments of his career.

“Those 10 Palm Beach Atlantic students came in and revolutionized the culture at our organization,” admitted Morris. “The values of Chick-fil-A and Palm Beach Atlantic are obvious in many respects. What might be less obvious is the impact they made on me, my family, and more importantly, on this community, and on the co-workers. The PBA students who worked for me, treated it as more than just a job. They treated it as ministry, a mission field and they were phenomenal!”

From that core of 10 PBA students, Morris went on to hire 1,000 more, and two of them now own Chick-fil-A franchises.

Vicki Pugh, vice president for development, eluded to the magic felt in the room. She encouraged scholarship donors like Morris to stay connected with their scholarship recipients, and called on prospective alumni in the room to one day open doors to others, and in turn, change their lives.

“As you become alumni, we want you to stay connected with the University,” said Pugh. “And someday when it’s your turn to give back and help those students who are just like you, we hope that you will do just that.”


Category Tag(s): General News