When Jarrod Woodley started his Master of Science in International Real Estate (MSIRE) at Florida International University’s College of Business, he brought with him a history of failures but a perseverance to turn things around. Ten months later, at the Hollo School of Real Estate program’s graduation dinner on June 30, 2019, he not only earned the Director’s Award and the Leadership Award for online students, but walked away with one of two $12,125 Catherine & Malcolm Butters Real Estate Scholarships to ease his student debt.
“Wow!” Woodley told the crowd of graduates, families and professors gathered at Smith and Wollensky in Miami Beach. “I’m at a loss for words. I walked in here for the free steak, and I’m walking out of here with a whole bunch of loans paid off!”
He and Andrew Miranda are the latest MSRE graduates to benefit from the scholarship that Butters (MSIRE ’83), president and co-founder of Coconut Creek-based Butters Construction and Development, established in 2014.
“There is $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, and this is our way of helping the cause somewhat,” said Butters, who also recently signed on to co-chair the Hollo Advisory Board and seed an endowment for a professorship. “These students aren’t coming out of wealthy families and going to Harvard. They are from real families with day-to-day jobs and professionals who are just trying to go to school.”
The Masters program has given Woodley the tools he needs to be successful. “I’ve failed at everything I’ve done,” he said. “But I got back on the horse and did it again and again…and I appreciate this program because it taught me something I was missing.”
Now, as Woodley continues to work as an underwriter for a single-family home asset manager and looks toward transitioning to real estate development, he is free from being weighed down by excessive debt. “It means a fresh start,” said Woodley, 37. “It means the world to me!”
The impact of a “life-changing” scholarship.
Indeed, these scholarships are life-changing for its recipients, said Eli Beracha, director of the Hollo School of Real Estate. “The scholarship allows the students to start off with a clean slate and achieve their goals faster without the burden of student loans,” Beracha said.
Recipient Miranda, 23, has long been conscious of his student loan debt. He attended Florida State University for his undergraduate degree to keep the costs down and, more recently, lived with his parents to save money, commuting on the Metrorail to class and his internship, often working 14 hour days. “By alleviating my student debt, I can focus on other things,” Miranda said. For starters, he’s hoping to find his ideal job as an analyst with a conventional brokerage firm.
Adding to the magic of the evening, Butters also was celebrating the graduation of his son Evan, 25, from the program.
“To be able to attend the same program as my dad adds more meaning to the degree,” Evan said.
His proud dad agreed.
“The program has evolved and gotten even better since I went here,” he said. “The quality of the professors is top-notch, and the number of students has grown tremendously.”
It’s a testament to the school, Butters added, that his son secured a job as a financial analyst at Greenstreet Real Estate Partners. Smiling at his daughter Riley, 16, Butters added, “She’s the next one to come out of the program!”