From left, Mayflor Remond, chief of staff, Office of the President; Dr. Samuel A. Darko, interim provost & VP of Academic Affairs; Dr. Jaffus Hardrick, FMU president; Rep. Christopher Benjamin (D); Dr. Gerald K. Johnson II, assistant vice president of University Advancement; Dr. Imani Fredricks-Lowman, assis tant vice president of Academic Engagement and Student Success, assistant professor. PHOTO COURTESY OF FLORIDA MEMORIAL UNIVERSITY

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Christmas came a little early for Florida Memorial University.

South Florida’s only HBCU received a check in the amount of $550,000 from Democratic State Rep. Christopher Benjamin, who’s a member of the Florida Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee and an FMU alumni.

The funds will be used to enhance the college’s math and writing center and STEM Expansion project fostering cancer research and cybersecurity.

Benjamin presented the check to FMU President Dr. Jaffus Hardrick last week in the school’s administration building which houses the math and writing and STEM expansion centers.

Interim Provost Dr. Samuel Darko, and STEM faculty members Dr. Rose Stiffin, Dr. Ayivi Huisso, Dr. Marilyn Sherman, Dr. Jayanta Das, Dr. Amalya Mihnea, and Dr. Latoya Appleton were also on hand for the check presentation.

Benjamin, a lawyer by trade and running for County Court judge in 2024, said HBCUs are facing challenges that place them at a disadvantage to keep their programs on a competitive level for students entering working markets.

“We know the challenges our universities are facing in achieving their educational pursuits and we want to help,” said Benjamin. “FMU still stands out on top for me and as the only HBCU in South Florida, FMU is still needed in 2023 and needs support.”

Hardrick said the funding will go a long way for FMU, which currently enrolls 1,378 students.

“Everything we do is to ensure our students have a competitive advantage to compete in the global market,” said Hardrick. “FMU is the only institution to receive this funding and I want to thank Rep. Benjamin for his continued support of Florida Memorial University.”

Dr. Darko said the funding will upgrade two of the university’s critical programs.

For the STEM Expansion project, the money will be used to buy equipment and supplies for cancer research, data science and cybersecurity to help keep the program competitive for students.

The enhancement for the STEM programs will also provide additional instruction and training for students and improve the quality of education in STEM related disciplines.

"The resources will allow students to engage in real life research experience, and students get to work in tandem to solve real working problems in healthcare, agriculture and cancer research," Dr. Darko said.

For FMU’s math and writing center, school officials said it’s a tutoring hub to improve students’ academics and performances in other course offerings.

Dr. Darko said the funding will allow the university to hire additional staff and enhance infrastructure and technology resources to help students score high marks in the classrooms.

He said the enhancements for the STEM and math and writing programs will increase the college’s graduation rate and student enrollment.

"We will be able to show that people come to Florida Memorial University because of its success," Dr. Darko said.

Dr. Darko praised Benjamin for the funding to help FMU reach new heights in academics and STEM programs.

"We are grateful to Mr. Benjamin," said Dr. Darko. "The talk about private and public partnerships is a true example to build the support needed for South Florida’s only HBCU."