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Mayors scholarship fund hands out record amount

By CHUCK?BALLARO

May 1, 2014
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Some of the brightest high school seniors gathered at the Palmetto Pines Country Club on Thursday for one of Cape Coral's oldest traditions.

The 32nd annual Cape Coral Mayors Scholarship Fund banquet was held, where a record two dozen college bound teens were each presented with a $1,500 scholarship to help defray the cost of school.

The scholarship winners are: Mario Alvarenga, Ciara Bennese, Morgan Cook, Hannah Dean, Kevin Dennis, Collin Dillard, Jonathan Gonzalez, Jillian Gottberg, Samual Johnson, Michael Johnsrud, Nadine Jospeh, Katsiaryna Khatskevich, Jonathan Levy, Alexandra Mackey, Francesca Marcucci, Sydney Martin, Ryan Molloy, Alexis Morales, John O'Donnell, Adriana Rivera, Alina Sin, Maria Tiuso, Karly Voss and Camila Yori.

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Honorees (in alphabetical order) are Mario Alvarenga, Ciara Bennese, Morgan Cook, Hannah Dean, Kevin Dennis, Collin Dillard, Jonathan Gonzalez, Jillian Gottberg, Samuel Johnson, Michael Johnsrud, Nadine Joseph, Katsiaryna Khatskevich, Jonathan Levy, Alexandra Mackey, Francesca Marcucci, Syndney Martin, Ryan Molloy, Alexis Morales John O'Donnell, Adriana Rivera, Alina Sin, Maria Tiuso, Karly Voss and Camila Yori.

The students gathered at city hall for photos before leaving via limo to Palmetto Pines.

The event featured comments from Mayor Marni Sawicki and many of the city's dignitaries, the color guard from the Oasis High School ROTC and music from the Island Coast High School band.

The mayor was enthralled by the intelligence of the teens, saying they have raised the bar from when she was in high school.

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The scholarship winners are:

Mario Alvarenga, Ciara Bennese, Morgan Cook, Hannah Dean, Kevin Dennis, Collin Dillard, Jonathan Gonzalez, Jillian Gottberg, Samual Johnson, Michael Johnsrud, Nadine Jospeh, Katsiaryna Khatskevich, Jonathan Levy, Alexandra Mackey, Francesca Marcucci, Sydney Martin, Ryan Molloy, Alexis Morales, John O'Donnell, Adriana Rivera, Alina Sin, Maria Tiuso, Karly Voss and Camila Yori.

"They are our leaders of tomorrow and I'm amazed at them," Sawicki said. "The committee has worked so hard and a lot of business owners have come together and stepped up to the plate."

The program started in 1982 as a non-political, non-profit organization to raise funds to provide scholarships to the top Cape Coral resident students, regardless of where they attend school.

From the modest beginnings, when three students received $500 scholarships, the fund has grown to give out $36,000 this year.

Jim Burch, city councilman and president of the fund's board of directors, said the scholarships are based on things such as grade-point average, SAT scores, as well as community hours and interviews.

"The kids seem to think this is a prestigious award, and I have to agree with them. The fund is a very good thing for the city and one of the oldest things in the city," Burch said.

Alvarenga, an Island Coast senior, shared that sentiment

"I was shocked I won because so many kids applied. Everything helps. College is so expensive and I have Bright Futures, too. So because I'm going to go to college in-state, it will cut it a lot." Alvarenga said.

Also prestigious are the schools some of these seniors will be attending.

When you see these kids' resumes, they're longer than mine," Burch said. "These kids' first choices are Johns Hopkins, there's a kid going to Duke and UF. These kids are amazing."

Among them was Joseph, who hopes to parlay the scholarship into a career as a neurosurgeon by attending Johns Hopkins.

"I'm so excited to have something fund my college," said Nadine Joseph, who attends Oasis. "It's going to be a long process, so this should help me."

 
 

 

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