Two days before the SMU academic year opened, the FGI Scholars converged on Whitewater State Park for two days of ice breakers, strategy sessions, and recreation designed to begin the 2012 academic year oriented to success through peer support and goal setting. One highlight of the retreat was a session of letter-writing to donors, in which the Scholars introduced themselves to the donors who have made their dreams of a college education a reality. Octavia expressed her gratitude thus:
Dear Donor: Thank you very much for your generosity in funding my college education. This is one of the greatest blessings that I have been fortunate enough to receive. I truly thank you from the bottom of my hear because without you, I would not be where I am today, so that I can take one step closer to making my dreams of becoming a dentist come true.