By Liz Lebron

Jas Marie is this year’s recipient of the Guardian ad Litem Foundation’s inaugural Triumph Award
Jas Marie is this year’s recipient of the Guardian ad Litem Foundation’s inaugural Triumph Award.

College was initially overwhelming for Jas Marie, a biology/sociology student at New College. Like most first-year students, Marie struggled to adapt to college life. Unlike most of her colleagues, however, Marie arrived at New College as an alumna of the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) program.
Guardian ad Litem for Children is a child advocacy organization that provides resources and support for children in the foster care system, who are the victims of neglect, or who have been abandoned. Marie was in the foster care system when she entered the program and met her GAL volunteer advocate, Ellen Frank. Determined to excel academically, Marie dual enrolled in Hernando High School and Pasco-Hernando State College. She graduated with an A average and gained acceptance to New College, her top choice, on a full scholarship.
“Tethered to education, I felt unstoppable,” Marie says. The opportunity to study at New College “showed me sometimes bad things happen for a reason.”
Marie is this year’s recipient of the Guardian ad Litem Foundation’s inaugural Triumph Award, which honors high-achieving youth in the GAL program. The Guardian Trust Foundation and the Florida Blue Foundation fund the award, which consists of a scholarship, a laptop and a computer bag.
Getting to New College was only the beginning for Marie. She has continued to excel and is now a thriving second-year student with an active campus life. Marie serves as the vice president of membership and secretary for New College’s award-winning Toastmasters Club, which recently won top honors at area competitions. Marie worked in the college’s Student Affairs Office, and she is currently a resident assistant.
The first-generation student is also “learning the weight of that” role and wants to offer incoming students the support she received from the New College community. Marie is spearheading an initiative to connect current and incoming students who are the first in their families to attend an institution of higher learning.
“Pick up your pens, first-gens!” begins a letter Marie wrote for inclusion in the Orientation 2019 newsletter. “You can connect with current New College students who are also first-gens and want to help you navigate life on campus.”
Sharon Alcock, who is associate director of new student recruitment at New College, supported Marie’s nomination for the Triumph Award. Alcock was Marie’s admissions counselor as she went through the application process.
“Whenever I see Jas on campus, she is smiling from ear to ear and emanating genuine warmth,” Alcock wrote in her letter of recommendation.
Frank, who has worked with Marie since 2016, and Cindy Ellerbee, a child advocate manager with GAL, accompanied Marie when she traveled to Tallahassee for a scholarship luncheon honoring her and the other two recipients.
“This award exemplifies what Guardian ad Litem stands for,” said Guardian ad Litem Circuit Director Marcia Hilty of the Fifth Judicial Circuit, who nominated Marie for the Award. “It extends well beyond its monetary value.”
For more information about the Guardian ad Litem Program, please call 352-671-5757 or visit
— Liz Lebron is associate director of communications and marketing at New College.

Founded in Sarasota in 1960, New College of Florida is a top-ranked public liberal arts college and the state’s Honors College of Florida. New College prepares intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement by providing a highly individualized education that integrates academic rigor with career-building experiences. New College offers 45 undergraduate majors in arts, humanities and sciences, a master’s degree program in applied data science, and certificates in technology, finance, and business skills.

Inquiries about this article can be made to 941-487-4157 or to email us.

Do you know of an event or story we should share? Tell us about it.

Related News

Campus News

Introducing President-Elect Patricia Okker
April 20, 2021

Patricia Okker, Ph.D. was chosen as president-elect by the New College of Florida Board of Trustees following a national search.

Campus News

NCF ranked a “best value” liberal arts college
March 22, 2021

New College of Florida is among the "best value" liberal arts colleges in the nation, and the results speak for…

Campus News

New College Ranks #6 in U.S. News
September 14, 2020

In the U.S. News & World Report “2021 Best Colleges” rankings, New College retained its #6 ranking among the nation’s…