MHS junior named Sunshine Scholar

Marathon High School junior Katerina Nikiforova has been selected as Monroe County School District’s Sunshine State Scholar for the 2019-2020 school year. The program, sponsored by the Florida Education Foundation is designed to bring together scholars from around the state, connect them with employers that specialize in the STEM fields, and create a networking opportunity between the scholars and schools from Florida’s college and state university system. Nikiforova will join a talented pool of 103 high school juniors, each selected as one of their district’s top 11th grade STEM students, for the program, which will feature a collaborative student “think tank” on tough Florida challenges.

Nikiforova was chosen from a group of finalists from each of Monroe County’s three high schools, for her outstanding achievements in STEM courses, as well as extracurricular activities and work beyond the classroom. Nikiforova’s teachers describe her as a well-rounded student, with an impeccable work ethic and willingness to tackle new challenges.

“Katia is a very motivated, multi-talented, well rounded student,” said Marathon High School science department’s Carrollyn Cox. “Her STEM knowledge and performance in both core and Advance Placement science and math classes is unparalleled. She thinks deeply, asks probing questions and is constantly working to perfect her knowledge in science. She embodies not only excellence in STEM, but also in various other areas of curriculum.”

In addition to her 4.565 grade point average and near-perfect SAT score, Nikiforova is also a first chair saxophone in the MHS concert band, an active member of the National Honor Society, and the co-founder of the school’s e-Sports team. She won top honors at the district’s regional STEM Fair, making her a state qualifier. She also attended a DNA research program at the University of Chicago last year and has applied for an immersion program in STEM research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this summer. She has earned numerous Microsoft industry certifications, as well as state finalist honors for cross country running and the Poetry Out Loud state competition. In her spare time, Nikiforova also runs her own website development business ( which works with local businesses on building or improving their websites to increase visibility and sales.

The Sunshine State Scholars Program will take place in Orlando in May. The two-day program will honor each scholar for academic accomplishments and celebrate the potential they represent for our communities and state. In addition to the honor the scholars receive from the commissioner of education, the chancellor of K-12 public schools and the chancellor of innovation, representatives from Florida’s colleges and universities meet with the students to discuss higher education opportunities available to them in Florida. This includes workshops for college applications and informational sessions on college funding for students and their parents.

Two Marathon High School seniors were also recognized by the National Merit Scholarship — Cory Bisson and Clara Williams. The commendations mean the students are among the top 50,000 scorers of more than 1.5 million students who entered the 2020 competition.