What made you want to create Project Makeover?
As the son, grandson, and great-grandson of an elementary school teacher, I’ve had a front-row seat to the challenges in public education and the heroic teachers and staff who face them every day. I volunteered in community service programs focused on elementary students in Title I schools throughout my undergraduate career and coming into my senior year wanted to impact my local community in the most meaningful way possible.
What hardships can come with starting a new organization?
The unknown! Dreams and ideas don’t come in boxes with instructions, so it can be daunting trying to discover how best to feel them out. There are always more questions than answers and it is hard to tell your plans apart from your prayers at times, but in the end those hardships engender self-discovery which is crucial to personal growth and success.
What is your favorite PM memory?
There are too many favorites to choose from. Every year there are two clear, emotionally moving moments for me. One usually comes sometime late Saturday during Makeover Weekend when I stop and take in the view of people coming together to do something great as a community. With everything going on in the news today it can be hard to think that people can come together to do great things - PM refills my well of hope in the connection between people. The other favorite moment comes on the day of the reveal, when all those beautiful kids and inspirational teachers see their new school. They see the art and the outdoor classrooms, and the gardens, and the Gaga pits ... and they see the love that was poured into their school by people of all walks of life whom they’ve never met.
How far have we come since the beginning of PM?
I thought PM was a one-time project that I poured my heart and soul into senior year of college with some of my closest friends. That was 2008 and here I am talking about PM in 2020. I’m in a constant state of amazement by the leaps and bounds our PM community takes every year to make a difference.
What makes you proud of being a PM alum?
Being part of a community of some of the most selfless, warm, committed, and optimistic people in the world.
What do you want the future of PM to look like?
An increasingly diverse and interwoven network of community members making even greater impacts in communities across the state, region, and country.
Why is PM important for the community?
PM serves as a great conduit between the UF student body and the broader Gainesville community. It builds awareness about civic engagement and our responsibility to be our brother’s and sister’s keeper.
What do you hope UF students can learn from being a part of PM?
I hope they learn about their potential for a positive impact on others. I also hope they learn that community does not exist only online or on a college campus, but in neighborhoods, cities, and regions, and that we shouldn’t cut ourselves off from a beautiful opportunity to grow and connect with those around us.
Project Makeover has reached the lives of thousands and it would not be possible without the dreams of past alumni.