September 29, 2020
Crossing the finish line to earning an associate degree is an accomplishment many Tallahassee Community College students want to achieve. But for some, financial hardships lead to a delay in that goal. For Keith Moore, the journey of completing his A.A. began nearly 20 years ago and he said TCC’s Last Mile Scholarship gave him the opportunity to turn a goal into reality.
“I started when I was 17 years old and a very poor student,” Moore said. “I signed up for many classes and never attended any of them. It has been a long journey to repair the damage that I caused back then. But I knew I really wanted to finish and it was important to any future career that I wanted.”
The Last Mile Scholarship at TCC started in Fall 2019 and provides funding to students who need assistance in completing 12 or fewer credit hours to earn an associate’s degree. The criteria for this scholarship are the following:
- A Florida resident
- In good academic standing
- Within 12 credits hours of completing your first degree
- Attended TCC within the past 8 years
- A completed FAFSA demonstrating financial need
Luckily for Moore, he was able to take 32 hours of College Level Examination Program tests or CLEP while holding many jobs including serving as a bartender, house painter, and videographer. Moore said his desire to complete his A.A. grew stronger after landing a job in politics working for Congresswoman Gwen Graham.
“Anybody out there who thinks they’re not cut out for this or have been made to feel like they don’t belong, if you want to belong you absolutely can,” Moore said. “It’s never too late and you can certainly do what you wish no matter how old you are or your academic path.”
Through determination, this nontraditional student was able to raise his 0.0 GPA to a 3.6 GPA. Moore graduated from TCC in Summer 2020 and was accepted to Columbia University in New York City to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science.
Mallory Goff shares a similar story. Originally from Ft. Myers, Fla. Goff needed 12 credit hours or four classes in order to earn her A.A. degree. Financial constraints played a role in her inability to pay for her final courses. That’s when she learned about the College’s Last Mile Scholarship after watching a TV segment on the special fund.
“I am 36 years old, prior to the scholarship, I struggled with financing and motivation to get me through the last hurdle of my A.A,” Goff said. “When I was approved for the Last Mile Scholarship, I felt such a sense of relief and encouragement. Because of this opportunity, I officially completed my A.A. this past summer! It's a wonderful feeling of accomplishment after many years of struggling.”
Goff plans to pursue an A.S. degree in Paralegal Studies at TCC. After that, she hopes to work toward a bachelor’s degree at Florida State University.
“The best advice I can give is if you have the opportunity to take a class, take it,” Goff said. “Once you take that final exam for your degree, you'll feel a huge sense of unlocked achievement and relief.”
“Coordinating the Last Mile scholarship program has been so rewarding,” said Elain Carroll, Advising Specialist and Coordinator for the Last Mile Scholarship at TCC. “I get to see firsthand the tenacity of students who want to finish a degree at TCC, but lack the funds to do so. Removing the last barrier – tuition money – so they can finish their race and reach their goal is so personally satisfying.”
TCC is part of advancing Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Last Mile College Completion Program which helps students who left college with 12 or fewer credit hours remaining complete their first associate or baccalaureate degree.
For current and former TCC students who are interested in the Last Mile Scholarship, visit tcc.fl.edu/academics/last-mile/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.