Steven Marin and Nate Webster met for the first time today. They're each business majors at FIU, with wildly different backgrounds.
Steven went to private high schools. Nate was homeless during his high school years.
"It's been very tough, all my years that I had to keep moving around, I've been in five different homes in one year, a lot of house jumping, couch jumping, I've slept in the car a few times," Nate said.
"I wanted to help out students that didn't have the same privileges that I do," Steven said.
So Steven started raising money for FIU's Fostering Panther Pride program. It's a lifeline for students coming out of foster care or homelessness. Currently, 165 students are in FFP. The university provides them with fully outfitted dorm rooms which stay open during holidays and breaks in school, when other students are going home to their families.
"I always have a place to stay now," Nate said.
The students in the FFP program also have access to a meal plan and a food pantry.
So far, Steven has raised over $100,000, hitting up donors with this pitch:
"I tell 'em that it's hard to see my classmates struggle and just, me and other people take for granted the amazing things we have in life," Steven explained.
Nate is typical of all the kids in the Fostering Panther Pride program. They all have epic stories of hardship which have followed them to college.
"If it wasn't for this program I don't know what I'd be doing, I really don't," Nate said.
Nate's dad went from the NFL to prison. His mom was incapacitated by mental illness. Nate dreamed of playing football like his father did, but a broken leg ended that plan. Now he's grateful for this opportunity at FIU, and inspired by Steven's efforts to help classmates he doesn't even know.
"It used to take me out of my comfort zone, now that I'm used to it, they're just like me," Steven said.
"I want to do the same thing," Nate replied. "I want to be able to give back 'cause I know exactly what it did for me in my life, I know exactly how it helped me be able to still succeed and be able to go for my dreams."
Fostering Panther Pride? Panther nation should be proud of these guys.