Hodges StudentFinding the balance between school, work and home is a challenge for many Hodges University students. For the 64 percent of female students at Hodges, the challenge becomes greater due to the struggle in receiving the financial support needed to pursue a college education.

Hodges student Renee Greer understands that struggle all too well, saying, “It was always expected of me to go to college, but the financial burden rested on me.” A native of Naples, Florida, she received her associate degree in teaching at Edison State College. Equipped with a dream of teaching psychology, she realized the need for a bachelor’s degree and applied to Hodges. “The fact that I can pursue my degree online helps keep me focused. With my schedule, it is very convenient,” she said.

As a full-time student, she also works 20 hours per week, saying, “Money has always been tight, and it shouldn’t stop you from getting your degree, but the fear of loans and years of debt is scary.”

Starting at Hodges in January 2014, Greer began searching for scholarships to relieve some of the financial burden. Through Hodges’ scholarship portal (STARS), she discovered the Women in Higher Education Scholarship. Meeting the criteria of a 2.0 GPA and providing an explanation of financial need, she applied. “When I learned that I received the scholarship, I immediately ran to tell my mom. I was so excited,” she said.

Receiving the scholarship not once, but twice, she admits it has given her the drive she needs to push through, saying, “Senoritis is a real thing and having that scholarship, especially this past semester, helped me to know that I can do this.”

Shifting her passion from teaching psychology to focusing on forensic work, she plans to pursue a master’s and doctoral degree after graduating in the spring of 2016. “I want to be able to profile people and work with youth preventative programs,” she said.

Once she is financially able, she plans to invest in the education of others because “there should be more awareness for women in education. We can do more than just cook and clean, and it is nice when people recognize our value and worth.”

In May 2015, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research released its “Status of Women in the States 2015.” For Southwest Florida, the statistics show:

  • 85 percent of women earn less than $50,000
  • Only 26 percent of women own businesses
  • Women hold less than 10 percent of corporate board positions
  • Less than 14 percent of women between the ages of 25 and 34 have a bachelor’s degree

According to the American Association of University Women, in 2014, “U.S. women working full time, year-round were paid just 79 percent of the U.S. men’s median earnings, which, in Florida, were $40,971 compared to $34,768 for women.”

In an effort to help students like Greer, Hodges University is hosting a “Stepping Out for Scholarships” event to benefit the Hodges University Women in Higher Education Scholarship Fund. The event will be held Saturday, February 13, 2016, from 6:00-10:00 p.m. at the Wyndmere Golf and Country Club in Naples.

“This is an elegant affair that celebrates and benefits the 64 percent of the student body attending Hodges University who are women,” said Phil Memoli, Hodges’ vice president of university advancement. “Providing financial assistance to these students as they strive to earn their college degrees ultimately benefits all of us in Southwest Florida.”

According to Dean of Students Marcia Turner, “The first Women in Higher Education scholarships were awarded for the summer 2014 term, and a total of 85 female students have received scholarship support totaling $113,500.”

This year’s event will include an elegant dinner, keynote speaker, a live and silent auction, and the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of women. All proceeds from the event are dedicated to the financial support for women students at Hodges.

For more information on the event, including sponsorship information, contact April May at or at 239.598.6153.

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