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$422,100 Awarded at 55th Annual Awards Ceremony
Scholarship Foundation awarded 61 college scholarships to 26 local students at its 55th Annual Awards Ceremony on May 12, 2020. This year's recipients will attend 15 colleges and universities in five states. They include graduating high school seniors, four of whom will also be receiving AA degrees from Indian River State College and students already in college. Each recipient will receive an award that is renewable for the years needed to complete their undergraduate degree.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's ceremony was held via Zoom webinar. Parents, friends, alumni and donors tuned in to watch Foundation Board members present the awards. Board President Bobby Sexton welcomed all on behalf of the organization. Announcing the awards being given that night, he acknowledged that none of what we do would be possible without the ongoing support of the community which has been supporting our local students with money for college since 1965. Addressing the 26 recipients in attendance, he noted that tonight's ceremony is taking place in what is probably the most unsettling time our country has been in for a very long time. Recalling the “greatest generation” who stood firm against the hardships of WWII, he said he was confident this Scholarship Class of 2020 will have strong enough shoulders to get us through the crisis we are in now. He urged them to make a difference in the world by remembering and emulating those who have helped them. “If it weren’t for the teacher who affirmed you, if it weren’t for the donors who are here who don’t know you, life would be a lot different for you now.” What’s important, he said, is how you can help someone improve their life and make a difference in the world.
Kimberly Toperzer, a 2016 SRHS and IRSC AA graduate and recipient of Scholarship Foundation’s Lois H. Cruze Memorial Scholarship and Grand Harbor Community Outreach Scholarships gave the alumnus address.. She attended Florida Institute of Technology, graduating this past December with a bachelor’s degree in both biomedical engineering and applied mathematics. While in college she had life changing internships at Larsen Mortorsports and Lockheed Martin. In January, Kim began working as a Systems Integration and Test Engineer at Lockheed Martin in Cape Canaveral. She is also taking classes toward a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Florida Tech.
Recounting her own career redirection, she urged this year’s class to “experience all that you can, as you never know where you may find inspiration.” Although, she said, she was thoroughly happy working in hospitals in pursuit of her biomedical engineering career path, she continued,” I hadn’t know what true passion was until I began gaining experience as a mechanical engineer through the opportunities presented to me during my two internships. I wish you all would jump into your college journey with an open mind and gain as many experiences as you can so that you may also find what inspires you.”
This year’s awards, which depend on each recipient’s financial need and the strength of their preparation for college, total from $6,000 to as much as $30,000. Some of our new recipients will have all of their unmet need covered after receiving our awards. Others will be able to attend a school of their choice that they would otherwise not be able to afford.
Richardson Scholar Awards Honor Brightest and Best
The presentation of the Richardson Scholar Awards is a highlight of each year’s Awards Ceremony. Applicants for these awards, SFIRC’s most prestigious and competitive scholarships, must demonstrate the highest levels of achievement in academics, service and leadership. Fourteen talented applicants competed for this year’s awards.
Nancy Richardson Luther and her daughter Kristin Lockwood presented the awards to this year’s recipients: Sebastian River High School's Hannah Flood, who will attend Nova Southeastern University and major in nursing, St. Edward’s School’s Clara Martin, who will attend Wesleyan University, where she will study English and Vero Beach High School's Griffin Wagner, who will attend Georgia Institute of Technology, majoring in computer science. Diverse in their interests, these scholars share a passion for making the world a better place.
The Richardson Awards were established more than 30 years ago by Nancy’s family. Her father Dan Richardson, along with members of the Vero Beach Rotary Club, founded Dollars for Scholars, the predecessor of SFIRC, in 1965. The family began offering the Richardson 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 100 graduating Indian River County students have been been honored as Richardson Scholars. For the past four years, Nancy has been joined by her daughter Kristin as a member of the panel that interviews finalist candidates. A graduate of VBHS Kristin looks forward to working with SFIRC to carry on her family’s legacy.
Gifts Fund New Awards
The Lisa Ekerd Colbourn Memorial Scholarship was awarded this year with funds provided by William and Ann Eckerd through the William K. and Ann M. Eckerd Foundation in memory of their daughter and the sister of Patty Eckerd and Cheryl Ernst. Recipients were Holden Campbell, a Vero Beach High School student who will be attending the University of South Florida majoring in finance and Indian River Charter High School student Caitlyn Sturtsman who will attend the University of Central Florida majoring in art education and studio art.
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