Saints of Santa Fe College – Lisa Manley

Saints of Santa Fe College – Lisa Manley

Santa Fe College student Lisa Manley photographed outside the Blount Center’s General Classroom building in Gainesville, FL. (Photo by Matt Stamey/Santa Fe College)

“Being from a rural town, transportation is a critical barrier to attending college.

I grew up in Keystone Heights and didn’t have transportation; how could I ever go to college? Luckily, a year before high school graduation, the Santa Fe College Watson Center opened. It was a dangerous 25-minute walk from my house, so I paid friends and neighbors to drive me, but I still had to walk sometimes.

I loved the small, but robust environment at the Watson center. It was comfortable – different, yet familiar. It mimicked the laidback environment of my small town.

Eventually, courses I needed weren’t offered there, so I made the leap to the Northwest Campus. I convinced friends to enroll at SF and carpool to Gainesville. I paid $10 a week for gas, and we spent our days staked out in the library and math lab.

Despite all my efforts, I dropped out of college for 3 yrs. My father had 6 heart attacks in a week. I tried to complete quizzes in the ER, essays bedside, but it was too much. With a long recovery ahead, my mom stopped working to care for him. Out of necessity, I worked to pay their mortgage. When he was stable enough to be home alone, I returned to school.

There were times I needed night classes and a flexible schedule, so I took classes in Archer, Alachua, and Starke and eventually the Blount Center, which was 3 min. from my new home in East Gainesville. Slowly, I finished my A.A. and started my bachelor’s. I graduate in Spring 2022 with a degree in Human Resources.

My 16-year-old self never could have imagined having a bachelor’s degree. The individual centers were instrumental in that. If I had begun my college experience at the NW campus, I might have ended up like my mom, dropping out in the first semester. I needed the experience of the Northwest Campus, but I needed it tempered through those perfect steppingstones.”

Lisa Manley

SF Student – Organizational Management – Human Resources