Published: June 06, 2024

Introducing the 2024-2025 Spartan Alliance Scholars

If she feared the crowd, she didn’t show it. 

“We've all worked our butts off to earn this scholarship,” Jaylan Codio ’28 said, in one of several speeches at the Spartan Alliance Scholars Award Ceremony held in the Charlene A Gordon Theatre at UT on Wednesday.

Jaylan Codio '28 and 19 other high school students were named Spartan Alliance Scholars Wednesday. Photo courtesy of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

“So let's make the best of it, and impact the world.”

“Four years from now, we'll be having another celebration just like this, but it'll be to finish what today just began.”

Codio was inducted alongside 19 other students into the Spartan Alliance Scholars Program, both a program and scholarship that covers the full cost of attendance for high-achieving seniors from high schools in the Tampa Bay area.

The Spartans Alliance Scholars Program is more than a financial commitment from the University—students will have access to resources and opportunities for research projects and studies abroad. Mentorship is also an integral part to the program.

The cohort of students was officially introduced to UT, and each other, at the celebration. The offices of Admissions; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Academic Affairs and Student Affairs all contributed to designing a program that “prioritizes the UT academic experience, folds in structures for career and professional development and incorporates mentorship,” said Chief Diversity Officer Thomas Witherspoon. 

It's about finding and recognizing the bright stars in UT’s back yard.

At the ceremony, the students were called up by name, and they posed with their scholarship recipient certificate as Nelka Diih, assistant director of admissions, diversity recruitment and outreach, listed some of their high school accomplishments.

Applause echoed for the honors scholars, team captains, student body presidents, future business leaders, competition winners, entrepreneurs and all-around motivated students.

In suits and dresses, there was a buzz from the cohort — not from nerves, but from excitement.

Caden Raymond ’28 thanked the UT community. “I'm going to do big things with this. We're going to do big things with this,” he said. “We’re going to change the world. And it's all in everything here.”

The incoming students are turning their energies toward a campus in a city they already love.

The scholarship came as a big shock and a bigger delight to some students.

Jonathan Vasquez ’28 was on a shift at Publix when he saw the call.

“I was supposed to meet up with someone to help me about college decisions, and that's when I told (my mom) I got this voicemail,” he said.

His mother, standing beside him before the ceremony, teared up.

“Amazing,” she repeated. “Every day I say, ‘Thank you, God.’”

Being part of the Spartan Alliance Program provides a built-in community for local, high-achieving students on campus. They’ll be able to grow into their new college-student status together.

“Since I’m new (to UT), community is a big part for me,” Vasquez said. As he looked around the Gordon gallery, he continued: “The thing is, I can't tell who goes here, because we all look like adults.”


Story by Lena Malpeli '25

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