Graduation season is quickly approaching, and local high school seniors are in the midst of finals and college preparations.
As our young residents take those first steps toward their bright futures, they tackle a new challenge presented by the high cost of a college education. Recently, the Marco Island Woman’s Club (MIWC) awarded four qualified students scholarships to help defray those costs. To date, the MIWC has supported approximately 100 local students with nearly $356,000 in scholarships.
For the upcoming academic year, the MIWC will support a total of 12 students in the amount of $25,000 dollars. Eight of those are renewable scholarships and three of those are Verne Cabooris recipients from years 2015, 2016 and 2017.
This year four new recipients were selected; three will receive $1,000 each for two years and the fourth (the Verne Cabooris Award winner) will receive $3,000 for four years.
Following the MIWC Education Committee’s extensive evaluation process of the many scholarship applicants, they selected Chelsea Casabona, Brianna Monroe, Daniel Nyugen, and Jordan Vann. Each of the students has a vastly different ambition for the future. In common, however, is the fact that they are all are high achieving and they all are pursuing higher education to further their goals.
Brianna Monroe was the first recipient to address the club, discussing her decision to declare journalism as her major at University of Florida. While science and math courses were not her strong suit, she recognized her gift to create. It started with writing and taking photos of her family and friends, and at age 15 she turned her craft into a business. To add to her resume, she has experience as an editor for various clubs and sports such as volleyball, Key Club, Girls Learn International Club, and student leadership teams.
“I hope to be a photo journalist for National Geographic one day,” Brianna states. “I really want to learn about [other] cultures and different lifestyles. I’m very lucky to live here on Marco and I want to see how the rest of the world lives and show that to the island.”
Chelsea Casabona was the next recipient to the podium. She has a well-rounded academic career with 233 community service hours, was captain of MIA’s volleyball team, is a recipient of the Daughters of the American Revolution Award, and worked part time with underprivileged children. Through her experiences, she has found her calling in leadership.
“Life has a funny way of showing you where you’re supposed to be,” Chelsea said. “Sophomore year I realized that I’m social and enjoy talking to different kinds of people. I met with two of my friends and we created the Girls Learn International Club, which empowers the women and men in our school to try to be the best we can be.”
Through the club, Chelsea traveled to Vermont and visited Spain. This past summer she attended the United Nations 62nd commission on the status of women. She will major in International Relations at Florida State University this fall. “I plan to study abroad and meet different people of different communities and hopefully leave my imprint on the world,” she said.
Following Chelsea, Jordan Vann lit up the room. Her competitive spirit motivates her to success. She placed top 10 in her class for all four years of high school and is a member of the National Honor Society. She is active in band and landed a role as Band Major. She works at the Marco Island Veterinarian Hospital, bringing her closer to her goal of becoming a wildlife veterinarian.
“This past summer I was given a scholarship by Naples Council on World Affairs to travel to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands for an entire month,” Jordan explained. “That trip inspired me with how much I want to learn about different cultures, [and also about] endangered species all over the world, and species that are endemic to one area and how it’s really important to try and protect these species from going extinct.” She is set to attend Ohio State University with a major in Zoology.
Dan Nyugen is this year’s Verne Cabooris Award recipient. Eighth in his class, Dan has a 5.1 weighted GPA, belongs to the National Honor Society, works part time at Regency Watersports, completed nearly 150 community service hours with the City of Marco Island Parks and Recreation Department, and tutors geometry students. He attained many educational honors and awards, including AP scholar designation, a Cambridge AICE diploma candidate, Champions for Learning Scholar, a varsity member of the Scholar Bowl and academic letter holder in his freshman, sophomore and junior years. He is a member of the Drama Club and Ultimate Frisbee Club. He attributes his success to mom, Tracy, who worked six days a week to support him and his sister.
“I start at the University of Florida this summer and I will be majoring in materials science and engineering. I plan to pursue a career that involves nanotechnology,” Nyugen said. “I want to become a nanosystem engineer, which usually works with materials and devices on a micro scale to improve materials and strengthen its precision.” Dan was inspired to help people improve the strength of their homes from the recent damage caused by Hurricane Irma.
“I am so impressed with every one of you,” said MIWC Education Committee Chair Debbie Roddy. “I cannot imagine being your age and having the ambition and the drive and the voice to stand up in front of all of us women and talking about your ambitions. Congratulations!”
Shortly thereafter, there was an installation of MIWC’s 2018-2019 officers: President Christine Koppel, Vice President Sue Ellen Welch, Treasurer Debbie Rago, Assistant Treasurer Ellen McCahill, Recording Secretary Bonnie Calvin, and Corresponding Secretary Pam Spering (not in attendance).
The Marco Island Woman’s Club will meet again for season in October. For more information visit www.marcowomansclub.com.