THANK YOU, DONORS AND SUPPORTERS
$725,400 Awarded at 58th Annual Awards Ceremony to Class of 2023
Thanks to the continued generosity and support of the Indian River County community, Scholarship Foundation awarded $725,400 in financial aid awards on May 16, 2023 at its 58th Annual Awards Ceremony held at Vero Beach High School Performing Arts Center. Thirty-seven local students, including three recipients already in college and seven high school seniors who will receive their AA degrees from Indian River State College, will receive 84 scholarships to study at 21 colleges and universities in nine states.
The awards, which are based on financial need and potential to succeed in college, range from $4,000 up to $30,000, payable over 1, 2, 3, or 4 years —providing support to students through the time needed to earn a bachelor’s degree. The new recipients join 83 past recipients who are renewing scholarships received in prior years. Scholarship Foundation awards open pathways otherwise unavailable to our students. They allow a student to attend a four-year university in lieu of a community college, to work less so as to be able to pursue an additional major or get involved in a wider range of activities, and to dramatically reduce or eliminate student loan debt they would need to incur.
Richardson Scholar Awards Honor Brightest and Best
The presentation of the Richardson Scholar Awards is a highlight of each Awards Ceremony. Applicants must demonstrate significant need and meet the highest levels of achievement in academics, service and leadership. Nancy Richardson Luther presented the awards to 2023 winners: Sebastian River High School and IRSC AA graduate Arabella Hepler, who will attend the University of Florida and major in biology; Vero Beach High School graduate Marie Mazzarella, who will attend the University of South Florida and major in pre-nursing; Indian River Charter High School and IRSC AA graduate Victoria Dowdell, who will attend Florida State University and major in architectural studies; and St. Edward’s School graduate Taylor Wolfe, who will attend Dartmouth College and major in neuroscience.
The Richardson Awards were established more than 35 years ago by Nancy’s father and mother and continued to be supported by Nancy and her sisters Sandy Kahle and Susan Hopkins. Her father Dan K. Richardson, along with members of the Vero Beach Rotary Club, founded Dollars for Scholars (the predecessor of Scholarship Foundation) in 1965. The family began offering the Richardson Scholar Awards in 1985 to “seek out and nurture potential decision makers who will have a future impact on our country and the world.” Since then, more than 125 graduating Indian River County students have been been honored as Richardson Scholars.
Why Scholarships Matter - An Alumnus Perspective
A 2018 graduate of Vero Beach High School, Scholarship Foundation recipient Mitchell Senko graduated from the University of Florida in 2022 with a bachelor’s in Business Administration. He spent this past year studying for the LSAT and plans to go to law school in the coming year. In his address to this year’s recipients, he talked about the value of expanding your horizons and making lasting friendships while never losing focus on the reason you are in college — your education. “College offers you many doorways to finding more about yourself than you could ever imagine. You will grow as a person while you are away, and ultimately it will lead to a path that is your destiny. The opportunity that is lying ahead of you all is exciting, daunting, and overall full of unknown adventure. Don’t take it for granted!”
He concluded by thanking those that helped him attain this life-changing experience. "But I can honestly say that without the Indian River Scholarship Foundation I would not be up here today, or in the position that I am in right now. I know that I not only speak for myself but for my family, all the students and their families in the crowd right now, as well as everyone that has been awarded by this foundation. It truly has made a massive difference in my life, and I cannot thank you all enough for that."
Why Scholarships Matter - A Parent's Perspective
I am a single mom of four boys (ages 24, 21, 18 and 9) who moved from New Jersey to Sebastian, Florida almost 10 years ago. For as long as I can remember, my goal, aside from praying my boys would grow up to be healthy and happy young men, was for them to get through college DEBT-FREE. There were many sleepless nights when I would think how I was going to afford to put them all through college. I had no idea how I would do this. As they grew, all too quickly, I stressed the importance of a good education. They were always well-rounded boys, between school, sports, clubs and band. Every single quarter of every single year, their report cards showed mostly A’s, and once in a while, a few B’s. What a proud mom I was/am!
Fast forward to the senior year(s) at Sebastian River High School of the 3 oldest (2016, 2018, and 2022). Each of my boys applied for a multitude of local scholarships, including from the Scholarship Foundation. Besides winning awards at the school’s scholarship nights, all 3 boys were awarded VERY generous scholarships from the Scholarship Foundation, affording them educational opportunities of significant proportions.
My oldest son, Eric, graduated University of Central Florida in 2020, with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a minor in music. Upon graduating, he worked at Kennedy Space Center and other major construction venues in Orlando. He was DEBT-FREE upon graduation!
My second son, Evan, graduated UCF in May, 2022, with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Evan has accepted a position as a third grade teacher in Seminole County. I cannot WAIT to see the positive impact he has! Evan, too, was DEBT-FREE !
Lucas, my third son, graduated Sebastian River HS in May, 2022 in the TOP 10 in his class! He will attend UCF with a major in business. If all goes according to plan, I am confident that he will also graduate DEBT- FREE!
All these boys worked part time jobs throughout their latter educational years, but their DEBT-FREE status would not have occurred without the beyond-generous scholarships from the Scholarship Foundation.
When my boys were younger, my mom told them: “Always remember to shoot for the moon, for the worst that will happen is you will miss, and fall amongst the stars”. What words to live by!! When she would begin to recite this quote, wherever we were, or whatever we were doing they would always finish it! To this day, they still remember that!
So, again, I just want to extend a heartfelt “thank you” to the Scholarship Foundation and its many benefactors. Hands-down, you were extremely instrumental in having all of my boys hit their individual “bullseye”. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will forever be grateful to all of you!!
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