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A Force from College to Business

For Markemia Peterson, any chance to attend college would first mean completing her Tallahassee high school’s rigorous International Baccalaureate program — and earning a Bright Futures Scholarship. She did both. With her University of Florida marketing and entrepreneurship degrees in hand, Markemia today is a solution engineer with Salesforce.com — and an up-and-coming force in the business world.

Markemia Peterson was an academically talented high school freshman having second thoughts about her spot in her high school’s IB program. While her friends were out having fun, she was studying nights and weekends. Any free time she did have was spent on the softball diamond.

Jealous of her peers’ freedom, Markemia withdrew from IB and enrolled in honors classes. “I wanted to be a typical freshman,” she recalls.

As her junior year approached, Markemia realized it would take more than good grades in honors classes to get into and attend a four-year university. She would need financial aid to make it work.

“We didn’t have money growing up,” she recalls. “So if I wanted to go to college, I’d need a scholarship.”

A teacher helped Markemia weigh her options. Her suggestion: Re-enroll and excel in IB, and Markemia could get into a four-year school — and be a candidate for a Bright Futures Scholarship.

With strong IB grades and high marks on her SAT, Markemia was accepted into UF and earned her Bright Futures Scholarship. The award allowed Markemia to focus on her academics without struggling to pay tuition.

With no other college savings, Markemia soon unleashed her entrepreneur within. Her freshman year, she founded The New Trendsetters (TNT) Entertainment. The company partnered with downtown clubs to connect with Gainesville’s Black, Jamaican, Haitian, and other students of color.

Now a solution engineer at Salesforce.com in Atlanta, Markemia’s business pursuits also include artist management and entertainment. In fact, when Salesforce.com was negotiating with a record label, her bosses put Markemia on the team.

These doors might not have opened if not for Bright Futures, she admits.
“Financial burdens are one of the hardest things to deal with and can be a stressor for a lot of college students,” she says. “Bright Futures helped take a lot of that off my plate and set me up for success.”

About THE Florida Lottery / Bright Futures 
The Florida Lottery puts education in the spotlight with the Bright Futures Scholarship Program. The Florida Lottery is committed to helping students shine inside and outside of the classroom so that they can have brighter tomorrows. Since 1988, the Florida Lottery has contributed more than $38 billion to education and has sent more than 880,000* students to college on Bright Futures Scholarships.

* As of October 2020

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