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14 graduates in Lee each earn $1,000 scholarship

By Staff | Jul 17, 2009

The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools doled out $1,000 scholarships to 14 high school graduates through a partnership with Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union.
Each year the credit union offers scholarships to one graduating senior from each high school in the county through the foundation. According to Marshall Bower, executive director of the foundation, recipients are chosen based on a recommendation from the school principal.
“They are picked by the principal,” he said. “It’s the principal’s discretion based on his knowledge of the student body.”
Scholarship winners in Cape Coral include James Sparkman of Cape Coral High, Caitlin Holloway of Ida S. Baker High, Caleb Six of Island Coast High, Emily LaBarber of Mariner High, and Taylor Ashby of North Fort Myers High.
Other recipients include Mercedes Garcia of Cypress Lake High, Cierra Dotson of Dunbar High, Sarika Lalsiew of East Lee County High, Rachel Mielke of Estero High, Chrystal Esteras of Fort Myers High, Claudia Lastre of Lehigh Acres Senior High, Mariana Ramirez of Riverdale High, Mayra Rivera of South Fort Myers High, and Jessica McLeod of LAMP.
Students are chosen for the scholarship based on a number of criteria. Each must be planning to attend a post-secondary school, be a Lee County resident, act as a role model for others, and exhibit leadership and exceptional academic performance.
“The students should be a role model for other students,” said Bower.
Most importantly, students have to exhibit a financial need for the scholarship.
Bower said Suncoast administers similar scholarship programs in other parts of the state. Overall, the credit union serves 15 counties in Florida.
The Suncoast for Kids Foundation is the entity that has given the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools the $1,000 scholarships each year since 2005. The school foundation later sends the scholarships to the students.
Suncoast’s foundation has dozens of beneficiaries throughout the region such as Autism Speaks, the Children’s Network of Southwest Florida, Easter Seals, Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Lee Memorial Health System.
Since 2005, it has awarded a total of $562,950 scholarships to 543 students.
Funding for the scholarship program is collected through the School Rewards Check Card, which automatically donates 5 cents each time a member uses the card.
A portion of the user fee from the credit union’s ATM system is also donated to the foundation.