Campus Life

Philanthropy fuels Brandi Crews

Before she left high school, Brandi Crews helped raise $32,000 so that disadvantaged children in her community could have presents for Christmas. She also tutored mentally disabled children with reading, sent care packages to the troops in Iraq, volunteered with the March of Dimes and Relay for Life and co-produced a docudrama on drunk driving for prom that received front page attention in her local newspaper.

Crews is now a traditional freshman at the University of West Florida and hopes to continue her lifestyle of generosity and philanthropy. She is working to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing and plans to continue on to a master’s degree at UWF.

A native of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., Crews knew from the beginning that she wanted to go to college and pursue a degree in nursing.

“Ever since I was little, I knew that I wanted to pursue higher education,” said Crews. “I’m the first one in my family to go the traditional route of entering college straight from high school, but my mother was always encouraging me, and I knew I could do it.”

Crews described herself as generous, independent and ambitious. She said she hopes that all three of these qualities will serve her well at college, as well as in her future career. Her generosity is an attribute that she remembers always possessing.

“I like to help those in need and those who can’t help themselves,” she said. “I’m family-oriented, and they’ve taught me the importance of not only thinking about myself. I’ve learned to not spoil myself, but to sacrifice when I can and give to others. As I see it, if someone needs help, bend over backwards and give it to them.”

Her independence, Crews explained, was something that was thrust upon her.

Her younger brother, now a freshman in high school, has always looked up to her, and she has tried to live a life that sets a good example. She has had to shoulder some of the responsibility of raising him, as her single mother often worked 13-hour days.

“He’s in band in high school, and I was in color guard,” said Crews. “I’m hoping he heeds my good decisions. I’ve already begun trying to convince him to choose UWF once he graduates.”

As for her ambition, Crews graduated with honors despite her hectic high school schedule and hopes to repeat that success on the university level.

She is taking a full class schedule and said she plans to graduate in the traditional four years and not “wait around forever, postponing the inevitable.”

“I’m really happy I chose UWF,” said Crews. “I applied to Troy and the University of Southern Alabama, but I knew all along this was the place for me. I’m getting to room with my best friend from high school and receive a first-rate education. I love the teachers, the people, the atmosphere and the campus. My mom loves who I have become, and I’m glad to become that person here.”