Because of Broward College, I Learned Anything Is Possible. | Broward College Office of Advancement and Broward College Foundation

Because of Broward College, I Learned Anything Is Possible.



Cheryl-Dene Spring’s childhood was characterized by difficulty and trauma.

In her native South Africa, Cheryl-Dene lived in an abusive household, a scary place where her stepfather abused her mother. The fear and anger erupted the day her stepfather set fire to their house. Her mother, fearing for her life, shot him. Cheryl-Dene was 9 years old when she and her siblings were removed from their home and sent to live in an orphanage. There, Cheryl-Dene remained for six years.

When she was 15, the state allowed Cheryl-Dene to return home to live with her mom, who was acquitted of attempted murder based on the circumstances. Cheryl-Dene tried to carve out a new life for herself, but hit continual roadblocks in South Africa’s post-Apartheid environment. By the time she was 18, she felt worn out and hopeless.

“I was working at a coffee shop making no money, and I really was just defeated,” she said. “A customer, who knew me from church, came in for breakfast. We talked a little bit about my circumstances. That day, he left me a check for a plane ticket to the United States.”

That was Cheryl-Dene’s literal ticket out of South Africa. She landed in South Florida and worked low-wage jobs with no hope of going to college, assuming it was financially out of reach. Then she discovered the affordability of Broward College and realized she could pay in-state tuition and earn a Legal Assisting degree in two years. She applied and starting taking classes, cleaning houses in the daytime and going to school at night.

Her experience at Broward College sparked a burning desire for higher education. It also opened doors for her to give back. In her freshman year, she was introduced to Guardian Ad Litem, a program of volunteers who advocate in court for children. The cause resonated with her deeply, so she took on this volunteer role for the next four years.

This courtroom experience crystallized Cheryl-Dene’s vision for the future. She decided she would pursue a degree in law. After receiving her Associate of Science in Legal Assisting from Broward College, she transferred to Nova Southeastern University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in one year and began pursuing her Juris Doctor, which she received in 2010.

Cheryl-Dene now owns and operates Solaris Law Group, P.A., with a partner, and real estate brokerage firm Iconic Realty, with her husband. She also is an adjunct professor at Broward College. She consistently gives back on multiple levels, but one stand-out effort is her nonprofit, Project Change, focused on starting schools and orphanages in Africa. Its first project, a school and orphanage in Senyaga Village in Uganda, opened last year.

She remembers her own childhood and brings her personal experiences to bear on Project Change.

“We keep siblings together, recognizing they will help each other through difficult experiences,” she said. “We shy away from ‘sponsoring a child,’ as I’ve seen firsthand how painful it is when some children are chosen, while others are not. And finally, rather than creating facilities, we build homes for these children.”

“I have committed my life to giving back,” she added. “Whether in the public eye or in the shadows, I do it because it’s who I am.”

Cheryl-Dene’s experience at Broward College was the launching-off point for her career, her success and her ability to give back.

“Because of Broward College, I learned anything is possible.”


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