JACKSONVILLE, Fla -- Jeb Bush entered the 2016 presidential campaign with a rally and speech at Miami-Dade College Monday. He joins 10 other candidates in the race for the Republican Party's nomination. Sunday, Bush's campaign launched an ad that includes Jacksonville grad student, Denisha Merriweather.
"Governor Jeb Bush instituted the first voucher program in the United States to give low income kids an opportunity to go to a private school," said Merriweather as she appeared in Bush's campaign ad.
Merriweather is the first person in her immediate family to graduate from high school and she credits her success to a program established under the leadership of Bush. She's among a handful of Floridians featured who were personally impacted by his work as Florida's governor. They shared their stories in the three minute ad released on Sunday.
When asked if she feels like a celebrity, Merriweather replied, "I feel pretty normal because once I finish here I have to go back to work."
In the sixth grade she was a student at the PAL program of Jacksonville, now she serves as a Youth Instructor and teaches 3rd grade there.
"I grew up inner city," said Merriweather. "I grew up in the east side. Traveling around Jacksonville moving from different parts of town. It's really been a passion of mine to give back to kids that are just like me."
A small portion of her story is featured in a campaign video for presidential hopeful, Jeb Bush. It's been a long and difficult road for this 24 year old, now pursuing her masters in Educational Leadership at the University of Central Florida.
"Growing up we moved around all of the time," said Merriweather.
Living in hotels at a point on Jacksonville's Eastside, her life turned around she says thanks to the support of her Godmother and the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship. Merriweather was accepted into the Esprit De Corps Center for Learning and given a free ride under the program.
"So without his efforts in supporting education I wouldn't have had the opportunity to be where I am today, if he hadn't of fought for scholarships for kids to attend private schools," said Merriweather.
She has no political aspirations at this point in her life, nor does she care to be lumped in with any political party. Merriweather says she's simply supporting what she believes is right.
"To be a part of his pursuit to Presidency it's really humbling and I'm honored to be a part of this," said Merriweather.