Committed to supporting students in overcoming barriers to success, Florida State University alumnus Cameron Pennant is proof that a gift can never be too small nor too early.
Shortly after graduating, Pennant began working as an advisor for the FSU Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement’s SCOPE—scholarship, community, opportunity, programming and engagement—program. Pennant mentors CARE students, first-generation undergraduates from disadvantaged economic and educational backgrounds, by providing strategic career planning and resume and job interview preparation.
Inspired by the students he worked with, Pennant created the inaugural scholarship for the CARE SCOPE program, Pennant Scholars, to help remove professional barriers through funds for expenses such as resume paper, professional clothing and travel to interviews.
“My mother, Anthea Pennant, instilled a deep sense of philanthropy and service even when we couldn't afford to— especially when we couldn't,” said Pennant, who established the student scholarship on his mother’s birthday in recognition of her.
Pennant says the virtue of giving his time and resources was instilled at a very early age and later helped him get through difficult times during college. He saw first-hand how gaps in funding affected students and wanted to help fill them with his gift.
“I would hustle up and down Tallahassee working several different jobs to make ends meet and pursue my career goals,” he said. “But my experience of struggle and service grounded my career priorities, so I can only hope those barriers to success are removed for the next generation.”
A two-time graduate of FSU, Pennant’s passion for providing equity and access is also evident in his decade-long career in government relations and public affairs, which includes critical roles in the Florida Legislature. He cites a passion for sustainable public policy solutions as a guiding principle in his political and advocacy endeavors.
Pennant is currently the legislative director for Hillsborough County, Florida, where he manages the county’s state policy and budget requests and assists with federal issues. He is also a Florida Association of Florida Lobbyists member and an adjunct political science professor at Miami Dade College.
Recalling his time at Florida State fondly, Pennant says, “It is not talked enough about how much of an authentic college experience you get from FSU.” Located only a quarter mile away from the Florida Capitol, FSU was the perfect environment to foster his academic and career success.
Pennant also serves on the FSU Alumni Association’s National Board of Directors, supporting its engagement, marketing and communications efforts while trailblazing as one of its youngest members. He also represented FSU as a co-seminar leader at the European Marshall Center for Security Studies in Germany in 2017, leading to serving as a frequent guest lecturer of global and domestic affairs to FSU students.
Pennant earned his bachelor’s in business management and master’s in public administration in 2015 and 2017, respectively. The FSU Alumni Association recognized Pennant as a Notable Nole and presented him with a 2022 Reubin O’D. Askew Young Alumni Award—the highest honor bestowed upon young alumni.
“The second you have the philanthropic ability, you have an absolute responsibility, says Pennant in his advice to other young alumni. “I hope my impact inspires generations to be instantly philanthropic. I hope ‘each one, teach one.’”
The Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement contributes to the successful retention and graduation of first-generation students from disadvantaged economic or educational circumstances. CARE serves as a partner to these students by providing free preparation, orientation and academic support programming to ensure their success.