nance.jpgWEST PALM BEACH — During its annual student assistance award ceremony at Kevin Harvin Center in Royal Palm Beach, the Caribbean-American For Community Involvement in Florida, Inc. (CAFCI) organization awarded $1,000 scholarships and a $400 Junior Citizen Award to 11 students from Palm Beach County Schools bound for their college of choice.

The theme for this year’s ceremony was, Beyond the Finish Line. This marks the 21st year of CAFCI’s student assistance program recognizing students’ achievement in county schools and colleges, in which CAFCI has given 96 monetary awards totaling $45,890 to date.

The eleven students awarded 2013 scholarships are:

Kaitlyn Cameron, Wellington High School graduate who plans to attend Palm Beach State College
Rachelle Eloizin, Atlantic High School graduate who plans to attend University of South Florida
Brad Lewis, Seminole Ridge High School graduate who plans to attend Palm Beach State College
Gillian Strowbridge, Royal Palm Beach High School graduate who plans to attend Florida A&M University
Vinnet Douglas, Atlantic High School graduate who plans to attend the University of Miami
Darius Hodges, Palm Beach Lakes High School graduate who plans to attend University of Alabama
Sara Pengelley, Suncoast High School graduate who plans to attend University of Florida
Sashia Thompson, Seminole Ridge High School graduate who plans to attend Barry University
Robert Simms, Palm Beach Central High School graduate who plans to attend Palm Beach State College
David Gouge, Suncoast High School graduate who plans to attend University of Florida
Brandon LaRosa, Dreyfoos School of the Arts graduate who plans to attend Florida State University

STALWART SUPPORT

Mr. and Mrs. Lauriston Simms, lifetime members of CAFCI, partnered with CAFCI and presented the award to Thompson, who plans to pursue studies in nursing. Mr. Simms, the owner of an assisted living facility, is an advocate for nursing and donates annually to the award.

The award named for the late Amanayea Abraham a CAFCI stalwart very instrumental in the organization’s activities, went to Rachelle Eloizin.

The Vivian A. Ferrin Scholarships were awarded to Eagle Scouts, David Gouge and Brandon LaRosa by Rhonda Ferrin-Davis, daughter of the late Vivian Ferrin, honoring graduating seniors from CAFCI’s Boys Scout Troup 111 who have attained the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout.

Requirements for the scholarships include a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or above, a letter of acceptance from the college of choice and an essay to demonstrate interest and knowledge of Caribbean culture and affairs.

This year’s interviews were conducted by committee members Elaine Ealy, Junette Powell, Nadine White-Boyd and Cedric Lynch.

Mayor Matty Mattiolli of the Village of Royal Palm saluted the recipients and wished them success.

PAVING THE WAY

Past award recipients Tiffany Williams (2012), Vasthi Ciceron (2011) and Nico Brown (2005) shared their experiences with the audience.

Williams and Ciceron, who have just completed their first and second years, respectively, at the University of Florida, both volunteered as hostesses at the ceremony. Brown graduated from the University of Central Florida (UCF) in 2010 with a degree in mechanical engineering, and is currently working as a resident engineer for the physics department at UCF.

Rochele Brown, another past recipient and who will graduate from Darmouth College this year, participated in the ceremony via Skype and shared experiences of her journey.

Guest speaker at the ceremony was Stephanie Nance, principal at Crestwood Middle School.

With the creative infusion of poetry — Mother to Son by Langston Hughes at the start of her address and Invictus by William Ernest Henley at her closing — Nance reminded the students that there may be obstacles along their way.

“Your will to succeed,” she stressed, “will determine if that obstacle remains  an obstacle or if that obstacle becomes an opportunity.”

“Life is also about sacrifice,” Nance said. “We must always remember and reflect upon those that helped to pave the way for our growth and success.”

For more information contact Elaine Ealy at 561-753-5000 or via email at elaine.ealy@palmbeachschools.org