UNF President John Delaney awarded three Middleburg girls full academic scholarships in conjunction with their “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” participation.
The girls’ adoptive mother, Carrie Prewitt, would otherwise have been unable to send her girls to college.
Money for the scholarships came from donors who tapped into a General Scholarship Fund, said Sharon Ashton, assistant vice president for public relations at UNF.
“’Extreme Makeover’ contacted President Delaney and asked if he would be willing to fund the girls,” Ashton said. “Our response was, ‘If they meet the admission standards at UNF, they will be free to attend.’”
The family was overwhelmed when it found out all three girls had received scholarships to UNF.
“I wish you could’ve been there to see the expression on Ashley’s face,” Prewitt said. “The weight of uncertainty evaporated. Now they all can dream without worrying.”
All three scholarships are contingent upon the girls meeting the requirements, Ashton said. The girls have to fill out admissions applications, submit their SAT scores and send in their official high school transcripts.
In April, the family visited UNF and toured the campus. The girls were able to see and sit in various classrooms. Prewitt said they all had a positive experience.
“I thought it was really cool to get to see the school ahead of time,” Ashley Brewer said. “Everyone was really nice. [UNF] went above and beyond my expectations.”
The sisters became orphans after both of their parents died of drug overdoses. Their mother died when the oldest sister, Ashley Brewer, was only 12, and their father died two years later.
Before their parents’ deaths, Ashley Brewer, 18, said she remembers going around her neighborhood from house to house asking for food while her dad sat on the couch at home, fueling his drug addiction.
The sisters were able to buy food using money they received from collecting soda bottles and walking their neighbors’ dogs. Ashley Brewer thought that was the way she and her sisters were supposed to live, she said.
Prewitt, who works as a physical education teacher and volleyball coach at Middleburg High School, took in the three girls after their parents died.
The three sisters and Prewitt received a new house from “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” The show sent the family to the Virgin Islands during the last week of January while designers and builders worked on building the family a new home.
When they moved in, Prewitt’s home was very small and unable to comfortably house the girls. During hurricane season, it was especially unsafe and extremely unstable. Prewitt said their new house has a sense of openness and comfort.
When “Extreme Makeover” came along, the designers of the show and the community built the foursome a 3,400-square-foot house with a beach volleyball court in the backyard. The “Brewitts,” as the family affectionately calls itself, also received a new vehicle, a 2011 Ford Explorer, from the show.
Letters of sympathy soon flooded the Brewer-Prewitt mailbox after the TV episode aired. Adults and children alike poured their hearts out to the family.
Prewitt said she received positive feedback from the community. Much of the community’s youth admitted to being unaware of the family’s circumstances, she said.
All of the girls, Prewitt said, are choosing careers in which they will be able to help others. Gina Brewer, 12, said she wants to become a labor and delivery nurse. Taylor Brewer, 14, and Ashley Brewer also want to go into the medical field, although Ashley Brewer hasn’t decided whether she wants to work with animals or people.
The sisters realize how important it is for each of them to get an education, Taylor Brewer said. The family said it believes education will really help the future of the three girls. Without UNF’s help, funding would have been insufficient to send the sisters off to college.
“For UNF to be as generous as it was,” Prewitt said, “that was really something.”