Training Thoroughbreds to make a living as a single mother wasn’t easy for Terri Pompay. Slogging seven days a week on the Florida and Northeastern racing circuit meant she often had to leave her young son, Chance, in her truck while she worked.
Like any other kid, Chance spent some of his time alone playing video games and, of course, helping his Mom. But Chance wasn’t just any kid. While he waited for Terri to finish work, the truck became a haven for him to pursue his love of history and archeology. He studied. His grades flourished and he aced his SAT tests.
“I spent a lot of time reading and learning about ancient things,” he recalls.
So it was no surprise when one day the fabled college acceptance letter came from his “dream school” Boston University.
“I was desperate for money to help him get there,” Terri explained. “I didn’t know what to do.”
That’s when she heard about the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA) student scholarship.
Chance applied for the FHBPA assistance, got selected and was soon on his way to Boston.
“Every little bit of money was helping,” Terri said.
Just four years later, he’s now returned home sporting not only a Bachelor’s Degree in Archaeology and Classical Civilization, but a Masters in Archaeology.
While currently walking hots part-time for Terri, he’s working toward his PhD and planning his transition into professional archaeology. Little did he realize, his early years of moving back and forth among racetracks and interacting with the diversity of the Backstretch mapped his fascination with the transient history of human civilization.
“Horse racing has been around for centuries,” he noted. “A lot of experience at the track I can bring to bear in archaeology.”
Indeed, what he learned from his Mom about interacting with racehorse owners, making connections and deals, and adapting to new racetrack environments and people will help him greatly out in the archeology field, much of which takes place in foreign countries.
Quietly articulate, eloquent and thoughtful, Chance also sees himself as a horse racing ambassador. The FHBPA scholarship helped introduce his horse racing background to his classmates, many of whom would have otherwise never known anything about the sport, if it were not for meeting Chance at school.
His advice to this year’s crop of FHBPA Scholarship applicants?
“Let your passion speak for you in your application essay. If you make it clear that you really do want to accomplish your goals and you think it will be a big help, it’s a big help in applying.”
The deadline to apply for the FHBPA Scholarship is July 8, 2019. To apply, click here or fill out an application at the FHBPA office.
“Chance’s success story is a great example of how broadly horse racing impacts our communities and our economy,” said FHBPA Scholarship Chairman Herb Oster. “The FHBPA’s mission of ‘horsemen helping horsemen’ has given back on so many levels–from helping a needy family and promising student, to infusing our education system, to promoting appreciation of horse racing beyond the stable gates.”
The FHBPA’s annual scholarship program is open to qualified, Florida-licensed backstretch employees and/or their direct dependents who are also Florida residents.