Congratulations to our 2017 Scholarship Recipients!

Emma Q.

Current high school: Lake Howell High School

College destination: University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Major field of study: Biomedical Engineering

Despite the many months I spent debating what major I wanted to pursue, arriving at the decision to study biomedical engineering was a rather unanimous one for me. After profound reading into whether this major was right for me, I realized every aspect called my name. From the improvement of my community, to developing new technologies, to curing the most notorious diseases. It is these elements that define who I am and drive me to dedicate my life to labs and experiments for things like: testing prosthetics, tissue regeneration, and a myriad of other advancements this career could develop.

Senior year is infamously known as arduous for its demanding expectations and requirements for acceptance into a university. I grew up knowing a secondary and/or post-secondary form of education was naturally expected in my family; what to obtain that degree in, was the actual hard part. My interest in biology and life holistically, but more specifically, specializing with children, has fortified my choice.

All four years of high school I had the opportunity to participate in the Early Childhood Education program and in clubs that worked very closely with organizations that help disabled children or people in need of medical attention. Having this volunteering experience was really what opened my eyes to the impact that I could be leaving on the world. Watching documentaries about biological advancements and medical settings with my family also enhanced and adhered to my innate calling to pursue biomedical engineering. My decision to choose this medical profession was simply because of its extraordinarily appealing nature to me, the fact that I could push myself to think outside of the box and make the impossible, possible. Living a life dedicated to service is important because it is the sole way to truly take initiative when a change is needed.

Being the daughter of South American immigrants, I have been fortunate enough to travel to my parents’ respective countries and first-hand experience poverty in third world countries and the struggle and necessity that these people encounter every day. Touching experiences like these have solidified my understanding of how vital service is to the world. Even looking on a smaller scale, in my own community, I have volunteered my entire life, not to fulfill the hours for a school requirement, but because of the fact that I know my service is affecting another person/people in a positive manner.

As aforementioned, my love for children led me to, along with clubs at school, volunteer with organizations like Special Olympics, Kids’ House, Clean the World, Feeding Children Everywhere, and more. These groups organized events that I will remember forever and will still seek to be a part of in college. It overjoyed me to see the smiling faces of participants and other volunteers knowing how my service was efficiently making a difference. I also participated in walks for causes like suicide or breast cancer awareness, and volunteered at Nemours’ Ronald McDonald House, and an Alzheimer’s home. The exposure to all of these conditions that I can help cure in the future was incredible.

Often when I am asked what I will be majoring in, the frequent response is a confused look or a “wow that sounds complicated”. Indeed I am facing a profession that will not be easy and will challenge me more than I have ever been challenged, however, by majoring in something that I am so admiring and fond of, I will feel like my work is not laborious nor in vain, but rather a privilege. My major directly correlates with service, which is essential to my core values and also details why biomedical engineering is for me.

Overarchingly, scholarships are sought after left and right by high school students, each with their own individual purpose. The reason I should be chosen for this scholarship is because of how helpful it will be to the continuation of my studies. A discovery or a research project may take years to fund, and due to my devotion to the major, I deeply desire to be a part of it. The possibilities are endless regarding biomedical engineering’s potential and capability for advancements. In order to be able to be in a state of financial comfort to complete the first four years of my dream major, this scholarship will keep me afloat. An estimated four or more years after my initial bachelor’s degree will need any support it can get. The application of my acquired knowledge can only occur if I am able to afford obtaining it.

Personally, I believe the need for biomedical engineers will skyrocket every time a medical issue is presented; which implies forever. Therefore, with this scholarship I will ensure superb grades so I can sustain and prove the necessity of winning. In summation, I am beyond pleased that my adulthood will consist of indefinite cases of research, invention, and innovation in my career path. I could not have chosen a better major than biomedical engineering to suit my personality and deepest desires better. My major entails all I could imagine myself doing in the future including curing childhood diseases, reforming medical inventions, and in general, always putting others before myself.

Erin T.

Current high school: Oviedo High School

College destination: University of Florida, Coral Gables, FL or University of Miami, Miami, FL

Major field of study: Health Sciences / Pre-med

As a young girl having just moved to Florida, I remember arriving at my great-grandmother’s house for the first time and feeling awe-struck by the abundant orange trees in her backyard. On that hot sunny day my sister and I sat underneath one particularly large tree and looked up. I was overwhelmed by the matrix of fruit above me and the beautiful citrus scent that was so new to me. I wanted to reach up and pick all the fruit, but my mother warned me it wasn’t ripe yet. Looking forward to a career in medicine is much like sitting under that orange tree.

In tenth grade I was a recipient of a Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA). I had the privilege of attending Rotary’s week-long leadership camp. Activities at the camp included various seminars and team building activities, including archery and zip-lining. At Camp RYLA I enhanced my public speaking ability, and became more comfortable working together with others. I felt much more prepared stepping into my new role as percussion captain of the marching band the following year.

Being percussion captain was more difficult than I expected it would be. I had to learn how to be a leader first and a friend second. I had to find a happy medium between being too strict and letting people walk on me. I found that the key to forming a strong section was to lead by example. I came to every rehearsal early and made myself available to anybody who needed extra help. I also made a point to plan lots of get-togethers for just percussionists. Throughout the season we forged a remarkably close bond, which helped us perform together as one. The season ended perfectly, with us having won Best Percussion in our class at every competition we attended, including the state championship. My experience in band has helped me develop many of the strengths necessary to be a leader, such as good communication skills, confidence, and decision making.

Beyond music, I have dedicated much of my time to working with the elderly. I have put in over 115 hours volunteering at the Lutheran Haven Nursing Home, and am now employed there as Activities Assistant. My time at the nursing home has had a profound impact on my life. When I began volunteering I felt nervous and out of place. Over time, however, I bonded with residents and found my place. Lutheran Haven has become like a second home to me. In our society senior citizens are often overlooked and underappreciated. The stereotype is that they are simply grumpy and tired, but that is far from the truth. The residents of Lutheran Haven are filled to the brim with love and life. Every day I am inspired by their strength and spirit. They deserve nothing but our utmost respect.

We can learn so much from our elders, if we only take the time to listen. Living a life of service is important because it makes you see the world through a different perspective. As a teenager I’m no stranger to feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed by small things. But by working with the ‘Greatest Generation’ I am reminded to enjoy the small moments in life. Some day I’ll be looking back on my life, and I hope to have meaningful memories to share. Service also makes you more patient and understanding. By meeting people of all walks of life through service I am more empathetic towards all the people I meet.

My passion for leadership and the aging population has inspired me to pursue the goal of becoming a geriatrician. I am determined to make a difference in the world by improving the quality of life for older adults. I have set up a plan to achieve this dream.

While in high school, I have earned and will strive to continue earning only straight A’s in honors and AP courses, and enrolled in extra science and math classes. I have had the privilege of shadowing pediatrician Dr. Nicole Cameron. While not the field of medicine I’m interested in, I was able to learn a lot from the experience by observing how Dr. Cameron interacted with various patients. I was also able to shadow geriatrician Dr. Viola Jacob. I entered data into her computer database, flagged charts of residents with unusual vitals, and took notes during appointments. The experience confirmed my desire to be a geriatrician and allowed me to understand some of the work that goes into being a physician.

As an undergrad I intend to major in public health or health sciences. I will then continue on to medical school, where I will specialize in the field of geriatrics. I believe I am a strong candidate for this scholarship because I will work hard to make the most of it. I am motivated by determination to take full advantage of the opportunities I am lucky enough to be given. I am committed to my dream of being a geriatric physician and have a strong, genuine desire to help the aging population that will carry me through any challenges along the way. The fruit is ripe now, and I’m ready to reach up and grab it.

Matthew H.

Current high school: Winter Springs High School

College destination: Oakland University, Rochester, MI

Major field of study: Biomedical Engineering

Being from a single parent home I realize the importance of support and strong guidance. The support of friends, family, and church members who helped me overcome personal obstacles of my parent’s divorce, living with a disabled aunt, and having multiple deaths in my family taught me early on the importance of developing strong dedication to service to support others.

I am faced with paying my college tuition myself only causing my current situation to be even more difficult. One of the few ways I can contribute to my higher education tuition between my extracurricular activities, service, and studies are scholarships. To my surprise, dedicating myself as a servant leader to my church and school allowed me to qualify for scholarship opportunities to assist me in my future studies.

I have spent four years in the leadership program at my high school and have been an active member in the American Sign Language Honor Society (ASLHS), National Honor Society, and the English Honor Society carrying Board Member positions in many of these groups. Highlights of the many programs I have led overs the years include leading the Families in Transition (FIT) program where we did annual canned food drives door to door in the community to help more than 50 families have food through the holidays, leading the Reading Buddies program at the local elementary school where high school students go to the elementary schools and model leadership and literacy skills to students ( I specifically was targeted to work with the disabled children because of my compassion for these students), and as an active member of academic honor societies, I worked alongside my peers in collecting and distributing books to children in need, collecting school supplies and delivering them to local schools, and annually participating and leading the night of ASL where we invited hundreds of community members to come learn about the deaf culture and some common sign language words.

In addition to my successful high school service activities I have been involved in many programs at my church. Over the past four years I have taken leadership roles in the annual high school and middle school retreat teams. Most recently this year I was selected by the church to be the Master of Ceremonies at a weekend confirmation retreat of over 100 teens. I was also selected for a two-year term as the teen representative on the Parish Council Board. I was most proud of my work with the church when I was stage manager for our summer musical. I led the construction and painting of the set, helped with stage props, lighting, and sound with casts of over 30 people. My dedication to those who helped me in the past do not stop at my school or church; I’ve taken my four years as a club soccer goal keeper and now give of my time teaching younger goalkeepers the leadership, teamwork, and goal keeping skills to be successful on the pitch.

My future career goal is to become an experienced prosthetics engineer. My interest in prosthetics spawned from 3 years of pre-medical science classes in middle school in which we relentlessly memorized nearly every part of the body, from the tiny neurons flying through the brain to the large latissimus dorsi muscle contracting to allow movement. Although I was having the time of my life memorizing the human anatomy and physiology, I realized quickly that the needles-and-blood majors weren’t for me. Luckily for me I was also taking an Engineering and Architecture class, allowing me to expand my view from strictly a medical degree, to dual-majoring in both Biology and Engineering.

I discovered UCF’s latest breakthroughs in prosthetic technology, and I couldn’t get enough, but I wasn’t only interested in prosthetics because they’re the most interesting piece of technology created; I dove head-first into prosthetics when I took a step back and looked at the good I would be doing for veterans, accident survivors, and any other situation that requires a new limb!

Although I lived through challenging times when I was younger, my strong passion to be a servant leader in the community, fueled by my success as a leader at my school, in my church, and in the community, helped contribute to my interest in prosthetics. Without having experienced my own times of need, I could not have opened my prospective careers to prosthetics and possibly help give back to the very community that supported me. I look forward to bringing these leadership and compassionate skills with me wherever life decides it will take me.

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