Jariel Trinidad: Trailblazer

Jariel Trinidad is a trailblazer being the first in his family to pursue a four-year degree. Unsure if he would ever step foot onto a college campus, he completes his freshman year having grown spiritually, building friendships, memories and biblical foundations.

For some, the dream of attending college has been realized for generations. For others, the hope of attaining a four-year degree is a surreal and often daunting ambition. Such was the case for Jariel. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Jariel is the first in his family to pursue a college degree.

Jariel’s life-changing decision was encouraged by New Jersey FC Camp leaders Gardner Hall and Roger Polanco, who also work with the family’s 60-member congregation in the Bronx.  Family friend and FC alumnus Gary Peralta moved Jariel to Temple Terrace and helped him get settled into his new home.

“I wasn’t planning on coming to FC,” Jariel said. “My good friend and mentor, Gary Peralta, saw my struggle of needing Christians who were my age and convinced me to come down. He has been influential in providing support, guidance, and financial assistance during the application process and physically getting me to FC. I am thankful to God for putting Gary in my life and for allowing me the opportunity to come to Florida College to pursue my goals, and to become a stronger Christian.

Not surprisingly, the kindness shown to Jariel didn’t stop with Gary. FC friend Leah Mathis, then a stranger to Jariel, gifted him a new Bible along with school supplies and furnishings for his dorm room.

Within the first week of arriving, Jariel felt welcomed and quickly developed an admiration for several students and faculty, including Bible professor Shane Scott. Shane’s immense knowledge and enthusiasm for biblical studies captivated Jariel, who found himself looking forward to the professor’s lectures each week. While Jariel had grown up in a Christian home, he was surprised by the various perspectives presented along with deeper levels of understanding of biblical concepts.

“What I love about Jariel is that he’s not afraid to answer questions in class, but even more, that he’s not afraid to ask questions,” Shane said. “That combination of eagerness and humility makes Jariel a special student.”

Less than a year since arriving on campus, the finance major is an active member of Phi Sig Society and hopes to become captain of the Scream Team his sophomore year.  The growing list of reasons he appreciates Florida College now includes sandwiches from Tamika in Henderson Hall and the refreshing friendliness of the people of Tampa.

It’s no surprise that Jariel has already made a significant impact on Florida College, but it’s equally heartwarming to know that Florida College has also left a lasting impact on him. Jariel’s story of courage and determination is an example of why so many chose to support Florida College during Giving Week. Please join us in changing the narrative for students like Jariel for generations to come.