The University of West Florida is launching a new marketing campaign titled “Finish Here” to attract more students to its Emerald Coast campuses. The effort includes the first-ever ‘Finish Here 5K Run/Walk’ to benefit a new scholarship fund.
Susan Shaw is the Executive Director of the UWF Emerald Coast. Shaw says the 5K event is being held in conjunction with an ongoing multimedia campaign designed to bring a little more recognition to the campuses in Okaloosa County and what they have to offer the community. Shaw says she’s optimistic that the race will do just that.
"Well, the event is happening October 25th and it’s at 8 o’clock in the morning , it’s actually a 5K Race or walk and we’re holding it here on the campus and it’s kind of a celebration of a Finish Here campaign that we’re launching this month to promote the University of West Florida Emerald Coast campuses."
The Emerald Coast campus offers a wide variety of graduate and undergraduate degrees including Accounting, Management, Criminal Justice, Computer and Electrical Engineering. Also offered are degrees in Business, Interdisciplinary Social Science and Hospitality, Recreation and Resort Management.
"We have eight undergraduate programs that you can complete right here and finish right here on this campus. And all of those programs, all eight go right into career fields. And we typically don’t have any problems placing students that graduate from these campuses."
The UWF Emerald Coast campus is a joint campus with Northwest Florida State College and has several branches that serve Okaloosa County, including one at Eglin Air Force Base; an advisor at Hurlburt Field and in Crestview; and the Research, Education, Engineering Facility known as the REEF which is a joint campus with the University of Florida.
The event is open to the public and community members of all ages are welcome. Dr. Melinda Bowers is the Assistant Director of the UWF Emerald Coast and say she’s excited for people to visit the beautiful campus and discover what’s right in their back yard.
"So part of this race and this campaign is to have the community see what’s here. And we talked about the library being open to the public but also we have Continuing Ed programs and the Center for Life Long Learning who offer courses here for those folks who may be retired and may want to pick up a class for fun. So part of this is showing the community that we’re here, we’re not just offering college classes to students."
Bowers says the majority of degree-seeking students on the campus are considered to be more nontraditional students and take classes at night.
She says these students work and have a family to take care of and some currently work in a career field that they’re looking to change from, "So we cater to those folks who can’t just travel over to Pensacola to be over there half a day or 3-4 times a week, it’s close to home. It’s on their way to work or from work. So it’s easy and convenient for the folks who live over here to get to this campus and attend our classes."
Bowers says the proceeds from this inaugural 5K Run/Walk event will fund the newly established Finish Here UWF Emerald Coast Scholarship, which will be specifically awarded to students attending one of the campuses in here Okaloosa County.
"A lot of our students are on financial aid and need help and this scholarship would help some students dreams come true who didn’t have a chance to go to college before to help them. So our goal is we’re thinking big, it may be that we only have the funds to help support one or two students, but even that one or two students is better than what we did before. So, our goal is to make it as big as we can, it’s our first one, we’ll see how we do this year, we’ll hope to grow next year and continue this process so we can give out more scholarships in the years to come."
The scholarship may be an added incentive for people who currently live here or for those that have just moved to this area - that have never had the chance to complete their bachelor’s degree. Executive Director Susan Shaw says it’s those students that are the focal point of the Finish Here campaign, " We’re targeting students that have either transferred in here to the Emerald Coast they might have been military or this might be a new location for them. And they have pretty much completed all of their general studies or they’re going to go to Northwest Florida State College and finish their general studies and get their AA degree and then come to us for the last two years to actually major in their discipline."