Success Stories

Making an Impact

Since 1995, Take Stock in Children of Sarasota has helped over a thousand students progress on the path to college completion. Our student data system shows 72% of our students complete college compared to the Florida average of 29% for students in poverty. Here are some of their incredible stories of success.

Brittany Lamont
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Many TSIC students graduate college and then return to Sarasota-Manatee to become mentors themselves. Brittany Lamont, now president and CEO of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, has taken her community leadership here a step farther.

Brittany jointed TSIC Manatee at age 14 and went on to graduate from Bayshore High School in 2006. “TSIC meant opportunity for me,” she says. Thanks to her Take Stock scholarship, Brittany didn’t just go to college; she graduated from State College of Florida and University of South Florida without any student loan debt. Without that financial burden, she was able to jump directly into a successful career in local business leadership.

Brittany returned to Sarasota-Manatee to become a local business leader with the Sarasota and LWR chambers and to mentor other local students through TSIC Sarasota. But she didn’t stop there. She began serving on the TSIC Board of Directors in 2014 and will soon begin her tenure as the newly elected chair. 

  While Brittany’s leadership and drive have always been present in her character, TSIC facilitated her future as a positive force in Sarasota-Manatee. Not only did the organization clear the way for her financially; “It gave me the opportunity to give back and help others set up their future, too” she says.

Coy Carter
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“I was really frustrated with my environment as a kid—a lack of role models, lack of confidence, lack of identity,” says Coy Carter. “But when Peter came into my life, I finally got to see a role model who looked like me.”

Peter, Coy’s TSIC mentor, was a banker who always wore a suit. Coy loved how heads would turn at the sharp-dressed man arriving at McIntosh Middle School just to see him. “He was patient and explained to me some different options in life, options that weren’t there for me before,” says Coy.

Coy went on to graduate from Sarasota Military Academy in 2013. He pursued criminology at USF and then received his MBA in Business Administration. That’s when he discovered real estate.

Coy has now been a licensed realtor for seven years, selling properties and teaching classes as an adjunct professor at Southeastern University as he pursues his master’s in organizational leadership. 

“Business was always my interest because of hanging out with Peter,” says Coy. “And real estate really is like running your own business. I just love it.”

Peter went on to mentor two of Coy’s younger siblings, too. “We still talk all the time,” Coy adds. “We just went to breakfast. He’s always just a phone call away.”

Jasmine Akins
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Jasmine Akins is currently finishing her doctorate in public health while serving as the Community Engagement Liaison at CAN Community Health in Sarasota. When she joined TSIC as a pre-teen in 2002, she was already a strong student with the potential to become the first person in her family to attend college. She knew TSIC could provide a valuable scholarship. The guidance and opportunities along the way proved equally valuable in preparing her for college and beyond.

Says Jasmine of her TSIC mentor, Shelly, “She was a great help with allowing me to visualize and understand what the college experience was, being a first-generation college student.”

Jasmine continued her academic success at Sarasota’s Riverview High School through graduation in 2010. She then graduated from USF Tampa and returned to Sarasota to work with CAN Community Health and complete her PhD.

“TSIC helped me secure a future I didn’t think was possible. Aside from the scholarship, which is incredibly important, TSIC provided opportunities and experiences such as the college tour and education events that allowed me to envision what my life could be if I put my mind to it.”

Sheila Uria
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“TSIC came into my life right when I needed it,” says Sheila Uría Véliz, who will soon be pursuing her masters at the Columbia School of Journalism. 

Sheila joined TSIC at age 12 as a lonely seventh grader. She struggled to make friends and was being “relentlessly bullied,” she remembers. At home in Sarasota’s Newtown neighborhood, Sheila’s mother had just been diagnosed with breast cancer, and the two of them were tackling chemotherapy alone. “Just her and me.”

But Sheila blossomed with the support of her TSIC mentor, Jane, whom she calls “my chosen family.” 

“Every single person involved in this organization believed in me and gave me the support I needed to persevere,” Sheila says. “Jane and TSIC helped me save myself.” Sheila graduated Booker High in 2017 and then Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York before being accepted to Columbia.

“I will forever be grateful for TSIC,” Sheila says, “and I look forward to the day that I can give back to them and the community of Sarasota, more specifically the community of Newtown, who have given me so much.”