At just 21 years old, dance senior Itarah Godbolt has already overcome many challenges — homelessness, cancer and being a first-generation college student. The latter was made possible thanks to the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program, which ensures first generation students from low-income families have the resources they need to be academically and personally successful as undergraduates at UF.
Godbolt shared her inspirational story on Sept. 23, 2014 as a keynote speaker at the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Reception held at the president’s house and attended by new scholars from the program. Godbolt emphasized the need to take care of one’s body, know your capabilities and hone in on your passions. This was how Godbolt chose dance. After dancing in high school, participating in a summer intensive class with UF dance instructors confirmed her wish to pursue this area of study in college.
During her time at UF, Godbolt’s dream has evolved. She now wants to help others in similar situations to the one she came from. She’s already secured a position to work for two years with AmeriCorps VISTA, a national service program working to fight poverty.
Godbolt was selected to speak at the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program reception by Leslie Pendleton, her former teacher and director of the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program.
“I like to select students who have been involved at UF, overcome adversity and have truly thrived during their time in college,” Pendleton said. “Itarah was an easy choice.”
With this honor, Godbolt met President Machen for the second time since her freshman year. She said it was great to start and end in the same place.
“I’m grateful that he and his wife can provide an opportunity for people like me to go to school and not have to worry,” Godbolt said of the president.
She emphasized her gratitude in her speech to the inductees along with her words of encouragement from her own journey at UF: “You’re capable of anything.”