WSVN — By the time some people get to college, they aren't sure what they want to major in, not Julianne.
Julianne Richardson: " I've been working with children with disabilities since I was 11 years old. I just have a true passion for it and I want to become a special ed teacher."
But college isn't cheap, so Julianne came up with a plan.
Julianne Richardson: "I actually started doing the pageants because I heard about the scholarship that they awarded the essay winners and I thought that would be the best way to pay for school."
In 2009 Julianne entered the Miss Homestead Pageant hoping to win a two-year scholarship to Miami Dade College. She found out you just don't show up on the day of the pageant.
Julianne was runner up in the beauty pageant and won the essay contest which came with 60 hours of credit at Miami Dade; enough to get her through her first two years of college to earn an Associate in Arts degree.
Julianne Richardson: "It was amazing and I was so proud of myself. I got through my A.A."
In 2012 she entered the Homestead Pageant again to try to get a scholarship to get through the next two years of college. Again she won the essay contest that came with a scholarship. A pageant organizer handed this confirmation to Julianne.
Julianne Richardson: "You can use it for any Miami Dade campus and it doesn't state it was for an A.A. degree or a bachelors degree. It doesn't say anything about that."
But when she tried to enroll for classes she was told the scholarship she won is only at the Homestead Campus and only for an A.A. degree, not towards a bachelors degree.
Julianne Richardson: "I feel like I have put effort in doing this scholarship pageant and I'm not getting what I won."
Julianne called the pageant organizer and the college where she found out Miami Dade sent a letter to the pageant after the contest making it clear, the scholarship was for an A.A. degree.
Julianne Richardson: "I started crying because this was the way I was paying for school and if it's going to be taken away from me I don't know what else to do. I can't afford to pay for them."
Well Howard, Julianne says she was never told the scholarship was for an A.A. degree. Legally where does she stand?
Howard Finkelstein: "Because Julianne was apparently not told the scholarship was limited to an A.A. degree before the pageant, she is entitled to the scholarship. By law if it was limited to an A.A. degree, the contestants needed to have been told before the event."
After watching a videotape of the beauty pageant, Julianne was right. The announcer told her she won a "two-year full 60 credit hours scholarship."
So why the lack of communication?
A Miami Dade spokesman told us it was the beauty pageants job to explain the scholarship details to the contestants prior to the event.
A pageant spokesperson told us they thought it was Miami Dade's responsibility to deal with the scholarship.
Miami Dade spokesman Juan Mendieta was adamant that the school did nothing wrong and still wanted to help Julianne. Therefore, they were giving her the cost of an A.A. scholarship to be used towards her bachelors degree.
Howard Finkelstein: "If you are running a contest or entering one, whether you are the sponsor or the contestant, get the rules and conditions in writing to avoid miscommunication or confusion."
Julianne will now be able to go ahead and finish her college degree which is good for her and great for the special needs kids she can't wait to help.
Julianne Richardson: "I wanted to thank everybody at Channel 7 for making this possible and you guys have changed my educational life. If you ever need anything feel free to call me."
Not only do you need to get everything in writing, you need to keep it for a while. Get one of those plastic containers, put the folders in there. That way you can protect yourself.
Dealing with someone you feel has schooled you? Ready to turn around and educate them? Contact us. We aren't scholarly. Heck we aren't even smart but we are stubbornly persistent.
With this Help Me Howard, I'm Patrick Fraser, 7News.
Contact Help Me Howard:
Email: email@example.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at firstname.lastname@example.org