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Top Performing STEM Students Selected as Sunshine State Scholars


Florida's top performing STEM students were recently recognized as Sunshine State Scholars and given the opportunity to attend a two-day event in Orlando on February 13th and 14th. It was an event that could possibly change the course of their future as they learned why Florida is the best place to learn and pursue an exciting career.

Each school district throughout Florida selected their top 11th grade student based on their academic achievement in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). These students, along with their parents and a teacher chosen by each student, were invited to participate in the annual Sunshine State Scholars program.

The Sunshine State Scholars program is sponsored by the Florida Education Foundation, in collaboration with the State University System of Florida, the Florida College System, and the Florida Department of Education. It began in 1997 to recognize excellence in Mathematics and Science.

Among those being honored this year were 19 students from the small rural school districts participating in the FloridaLearns STEM Scholars Program for Gifted and Talented Students, including 5 students from the Heartland Educational Consortium's districts. In
addition to recognizing their academic success, the Sunshine State Scholars program gave these STEM students the opportunity to meet directly with highly successful professionals from STEM-related industries in Florida and with recruiters from Florida's finest colleges and universities.

During the event, the students heard about special programs of study and industry internship opportunities, learned about some of the latest innovations and discoveries in STEM-related research, were inspired by personal success stories from leaders in Florida's
STEM industry, and were actively recruited to become part of Florida's future talented workforce. The scholars also enjoyed meeting with post-secondary students from around the state who had similar interests in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The five Heartland Educational Consortium district students currently enrolled in the FloridaLearns STEM Scholars Initiative that were honored as Sunshine State Scholars include:

  1. Eve Pence, DeSoto County High School “ DeSoto County
  2. Bronson Bass, Moore Haven Junior/Senior High “ Glades County
  3. Allison Farr, Hardee Senior High “ Hardee County
  4. Magali Salinas, LaBelle High “ Hendry County
  5. Michael Daniel, Okeechobee High “ Okeechobee County

Exciting futures are ahead for all of the STEM Scholars. Special congratulations go to those who were named as 2014 Sunshine State Scholars!

Pictured are the students from high schools in the rural school districts that participate in the STEM Scholars program along with Pam Stewart, Florida Commissioner of Education and Mary Jane Tappen, the Deputy Commissioner for Curriculum, Instruction, and
Student Services with the Florida Department of Education. The pictured students are listed by school and school district below.


Front Row: Mary Jane Tappen, Allison Farr (Hardee HS, Hardee County), Abigail Austin (UF Lab School), Eve Pence (DeSoto HS, DeSoto County), Jewelisia Fagg (East Gadsden HS, Gadsden County), Sarah Boullard (Vernon HS,Washington County), Donavan Ebersole (Blountstown HS, Calhoun County), Priyanka Patel (Columbia HS, Columbia County), Erin Dady (Bethlehem HS, Holmes County), Magali Salinas (LaBelle HS, Hendry County), Carlie Dennard (Palatka HS, Putnam County), Courtney Strickland (Madison HS, Madison County), Pam Stewart

Back Row: Michael Daniel (Okeechobee HS, Okeechobee County),Bronson Bass (Moore Haven Jr/Sr HS, Glades County), Stefan Roberts (Jefferson HS, Jefferson County), Rohan Patel (Taylor HS, Taylor County), William Hosford (Liberty HS, Liberty County), Justin Barrier (Wewahitchka HS, Gulf County), Wes Fegely (South Walton HS, Walton County), Chaseon Tatanto (Franklin HS, Franklin County).


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