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FGCU receives healthy donation

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can certainly buy some nursing degrees.

Thanks to a $2 million donation by the Community Health Association of Lehigh Acres, Florida Gulf Coast University will now be able to grant several scholarships to students pursuing a health professions or education degree.

Chris Simoneau is the executive director of the FGCU Foundation, as well as the vice president of University advancement.

“The CHA has an existing scholarship with us,” Simoneau said. “This year, the Association elected to put themselves out of business, and distribute their assets to other nonprofits and entities.”

One of those entities is FGCU. The CHA provided several guidelines for the donation.

The Association members would like the money to be provided to students from Lehigh Acres pursuing a degree in health professions or education. They requested that each scholarship is large enough to cover tuition, fees and books.

Belinda Celestin is a student who received a scholarship from the CHA last year. In a letter to the CHA that was released in an FGCU press release, Celestin said: “In my wildest dreams I never really thought I would get to become an actual nurse in my future.” Thanks to the scholarship, Celestin could “finally get to start the process of becoming what I want to be for the rest of my life.”

Simoneau has seen a lot of large donations to FGCU this year.

“This was the third donation of $2 million or more made to the University this year,” Simoneau said.

“There’s the David Lucas donation, the CHA donation, and the 40 acres from the Private Equity Group. That land is actually valued at $7.7 million.”

The 40 acres from PEG is located north of the University, and it was promised to FGCU by the Alico Group, which used to own the land. The land never transferred while

Alico owned it, but it was included in the deed when PEG purchased it.

While no plans have been made for the land yet, Simoneau knows what will not be built there — athletic facilities and dorms.

“The land is ours to use as we see fit, but those kinds of facilities are not congruent with where the land sits with Miromar Lakes,” Simoneau said.

“You don’t want to put athletic facilities in the backyard of those beautiful homes.”

Instead, the University may build administrative offices, classrooms, or research space on the land.

Simoneau believes that these donations demonstrate the support that FGCU receives from the Southwest Florida community.

“These validate that FGCU is a great place to invest,” Simoneau said.

About The Author

Nina Barbero

Nina Barbero is a senior majoring in economics, and has been writing for Eagle News since her freshman year and enters her senior year as Eagle News' Managing Editor. When she is not in the newsroom, you can probably find her swimming at the beach, trying to talk her way out of overdue book fines at the library or hoping the Giants win at least one game this season.

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