Campus Life

Third generation student and Pace Scholar joins UWF; Five UWF students awarded prestigious Pace Scholars Award

By Lauren Haggett, University Communications

Gary Buffington III, a freshman from Tampa, Fla., recently signed a contract with the UWF golf team. He is attending UWF on a full scholarship thanks to the John C. Pace, Jr. Pace Scholars award. Buffington is the third generation in his family to attend UWF, and his father, Gary Buffington II, played golf for UWF in the late 1980s.

Buffington III, who is majoring in accounting, is one of five students to receive this prestigious award. Amber Cotten, Karen Irizarry, Jennifer Thompson and Nora Trotman have also earned the Pace Scholars award. The students will receive a total of $20,000 ($5,000 per year for four years or eight semesters). In addition, each student will receive $4,000 to use for the Pace Scholars Summer Experience trip. The trip must encompass some sort of educational component and cultural immersion, as it is intended to further the students’ education here at UWF.

“I’m ready to challenge myself academically and take the next step in my life,” said Buffington III. “It’s exciting, and I’m really looking forward to meeting new people, setting goals, facing challenges and having fun.”

“I worked really hard on academics in high school, and it feels great to have been awarded for my hard work,” said Trotman, who is majoring in communication arts. “I am extremely thankful for such a wonderful opportunity, and I plan to work hard to meet the expectations of a Pace Scholar.”

The scholarship is available to incoming freshmen, and applications are accepted each year. Students are chosen based on high school academic record, standardized testing scores, leadership activities and high school and community involvement. In addition, the students who are chosen are required to be a part of the UWF Honors Program and maintain a minimum 3.25 GPA throughout their college career.

“I chose to not be just another desk or paper. I chose to have professors know me by name,” said Trotman. “I didn’t want to settle for a degree. I chose to receive and education; I chose the University of West Florida.”

Cotten, who plans to major in accounting or marketing, says UWF has been a part of her life since she was a little girl.

“I took swim lessons in the natatorium, had ballet recitals in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts since I was three years old, and my parents were also adjunct professors at UWF,” said Cotten. “I went to three proms in the conference center, and my project graduation was hosted at the HLS facility. I even stayed in the Child Development Center for a few semesters while my mom finished grad school.”

“UWF has now become a family tradition,” said Buffington III. “All three generations of Gary Buffingtons will have received a degree from UWF. It is a great school in a great place with great opportunities.”

The Pace Scholars award is possible through an endowment which was established through a generous bequest gift of the late John C. Pace, Jr. to provide support for high school scholarships to pursue their education at UWF.

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