“Mentors open the doors of possibilities, putting the students on a path of success,” said Take Stock in Children President and CEO Madeline Pimariega during the ceremony when 50 students graduated from the program last Saturday. The program has graduated 521 students overall, with an average 3.5 G.P.A.
Congressman Carlos Curbelo was on hand for the event and said he was honored to share this occasion with the students. “Education can take you anywhere,” he said to the students. “Take Stock gives students who show potential a springboard for success. Success is different every day and different for every person. Continue following your success.”
John Padget, Vice Chair of the State Board of Education, said the objective of Take Stock is for students to achieve their dreams without ending up with any real college debt. The graduates receive full scholarships for four years of education. Many of the students also qualified for two years of free room and board.
“Live your life with purpose and passion,” said Pimariega. “That will always guide your way.”
Iyamilet Vargas of Coral Shores High School with mentor Racquel Daniels. ‘We couldn’t have done this without the support of our founders, teachers, mentors, parents and family,’ said Chuck Licis.
Jackie Williams sings ‘The Greatest Love of All’ for the graduates. ‘Do different, be different, and think different, but most of all love yourselves,’ she said. ‘Never walk in anyone’s shadow.’
Coral Shores’ Juan Mayo is congratulated by his niece, Layla, and sister Bertha Mayo after the graduation ceremonies.
Key West High School’s Monique Teal with mentor Joelle Keane take the stage. Teal will attend Florida Atlantic University.
Laura Valenzuela is headed to Hillsborough Community College, pictured here with her mentor Cindy Bull, and Nelson Rojas, who will be attending Florida Gulf Coast, and his mentor, Chris Bull.
KWHS student Cadette Deneville and mom Marie have matching smiles. She is heading off to UCF.
Mom Debbie Kleinman with her daughter, KWHS graduate Alexa Dawson, who will be studying psychology at Valencia and will transfer to UCF. They are with friend Olivia Mealor, who is a 2013 Take Stock graduate studying biology at New College of Florida in Sarasota.
Antonisha Gaston of Coral Shores gives grandma Kathy Johnson a hug. Gaston will be serving in the U.S. Air Force.
Max Mealor of Key West High School, with his mom Alisa, shakes hand with mentor Mike Mongo. Max is heading off to UCF.
Marathon High School’s Dayle Labrada and mentor Lizzette Ramos celebrate Dayle’s achievement.
Patrick Stevens with his mentee Alvaro Fregoso and Jinett Rodriguez with her mentor Blair Shiver gather in the lobby of Marathon High School’s auditorium.
Sharon Rodriguez will be attending Florida State University and is seen here with her mentor, Judge Ruth Becker. Becker said Sharon is a light in her life.
Marathon High School Graduate Kiley Platt smiles alongside mentor Patty Baragwanath.
Robi Garcia of Marathon High School with his friend from Key West High School, Zach Hughes. Hughes will play football at University of West Florida and Robi will be attending FKCC and eventually pursuing a career with Monroe County Sherriff’s Office. Robi’s mentor Kristen Livengood is SUPER proud of him. (And The Keys Weekly is proud of Kristen’s selfless volunteerism.)
Tristan Garcia of Coral Shores High School began Take Stock in his sophomore year and is heading to Florida State University. He said he works two jobs and 38 hours a week throughout the school year and was thankful for the opportunities Take Stock has given him, especially being able to study in France for five weeks last summer.
Samantha Bonilla speaks on behalf of Marathon High School and will be attending Florida Gulf Coast University. She thanked all the program mentors, including her own, Trish Hintze of Marathon.
Key West High School Graduate Cara Bursis said this program is the reason she can get a higher education. ‘They believed in me right from the beginning,’ she said. She will be studying hospitality at University of Central Florida and wants to open a bakery one day. ‘It is a privilege and honor to be a Take Stock scholar.’
Steven Pribramsky, Monroe County Education Foundation President, told the graduates, ‘We want you to have unlimited opportunity in your life.’ The students shown here are the 2015 Named Scholars.