Former Senate President Andy Gardiner and his wife, Camille Gardner, are getting some more recognition for their work to improve the lives of disabled Floridians.
Beacon College, a school aimed at educating “students who learn differently,” announced this month that it awarded honorary doctorates the Orlando couple in recognition of the former Senator’s work expanding what is now known as the Gardiner Scholarship Program.
The Gardiners were named as honorary degree recipients alongside Sheikha Jameela, the VP of the UAE’s Supreme Council for Family Affairs. Hagerty said all three honorees “embody the true character of civic leaders by virtue of their vision, perseverance, and humility.”
“We are indeed fortunate to be graced by honorary degree candidates whose work has benefited the lives of literally millions of people with disabilities, both internationally and here in the Sunshine state,” Beacon President George J. Hagerty said. “Sen. Andy Gardiner and his wife, Camille, have shared a common pursuit — that of improving the quality of educational and life experiences for Floridians with disabilities.”
The Gardiner Scholarship Program provides personal learning scholarship accounts that the parents of special needs children can use on a wide array of educational expenses such as school tuition, therapists, home learning curriculums or even college savings. The 2016 expansion of that program was Gardiner’s signature piece of legislation during his tenure as Florida Senate President for the 2015 and 2016 Legislative Sessions.
Gardiner, now vice president of external affairs and community relations at Orlando Health, prioritized the scholarship fund during his presidency due to his and Camille’s experience raising their son Andrew, who was born with Down syndrome.
Beacon College, located in Leesburg, announced the honorary degrees on May 1 and awarded them during its 29th Commencement Exercises on May 5.