Cape High’s Koa Sua a ‘rising star’
A Cape Coral High School senior was awarded a $5,000 scholarship and a nonprofit organization received a $50,000 grant Wednesday afternoon from the Sun Life Rising Star Awards program.
Koa A. Sua, a volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club, received the recongition Wednesday while the organization — where Sua has given more than 270 hours –received the one-time donation.
The Sun Life Rising Star Awards program, which was developed by Sun Life Financial a year ago, began to recognize and provide resources to high school students who have overcome the odds and remained committed to furthering their education. The award program also recognizes the non-profit organizations who work with the students. The program is the education cornerstone of the Miami Dolphins Foundation.
Spokesperson for Sunlife Rising Stars Scott Farmelant said the Sun Life Rising Star is awarded to students who were nominated by the non-profit organizations they are affiliated with in Detroit, San Diego, New York, Seattle, Boston, Miami-South Florida and Philadelphia.
“They are trying to be a corporate leader to help at risk youth with post secondary education,” he said about Sun Life Financial.
A panel of local judges of South Florida chose the students who qualified for the award. The panel included tennis players Venus and Serena Williams, wife of Dolphins head coach Jeanette Sparano, Dolphins wide receiver Davone Bess, Society Scene Publisher Stacy Ostrau and local philanthropist Ada Cole.
The student must contribute to the community in which he or she lives, overcome challenges to stay in school, have active involvement with their non-profit organization and show leadership qualities beyond their years.
The afternoon ceremony was held at the Cape Coral High School auditorium with many representatives from the Boys and Girls Club and Sun Life Rising Star Awards program, Dolphin cheerleaders, Sparano, Dolphins personnel and Dolphins players wives, girlfriends and fiancee.
Divisional Sales Manager Mark Peterson presented the $5,000 scholarship to Sua, saying it was exciting to recognize Kou for her work in school and the community.
“Wow, your involvement in the community can go a long way,” Sua said about receiving the scholarship.
She said she was completely surprised and “words can’t describe” how it made her feel.
Kou’s mother, Lou, was present for the ceremony.
“I am the very proud mother,” she said smiling. “She worked hard for this.”
Peterson said it is especially exciting for him to be able to recognize students in front of their parents and peers because it is so much more special for them.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County Director of Development & Resources Garrett Rasmussen said he was the one who wrote the grant for Kou because she was very deserving of the award.
Sua became a member of the Boys and Girls Club in 2004 and has volunteered 270 hours at her unit in North Fort Myers. She is a mentor to younger members with their homework, assists staff in group projects and serves as a role model to the other members of the unit.
Peterson also presented the Boys and Club of Lee County with a one-time grant of $50,000.
Rasmussen said the grant will go towards the power hour program and the goals for graduation program.
He said the power hour program is a homework assistance hour to help students succeed with their education. The program is used by all of the children.
Rasmussen said the program teaches participants how to set goals, obtain those goals, how to apply it to their education and make them start thinking about their future.
Sua said the Boys & Girls Club is more than just a place, it is somewhere you can go that makes you feel like you are apart of a family. Kou became a member of the club when she was in 5th grade.
“I learned that nobody should be left out,” she said about the club. “Everyone should be treated the same way.”
Sua’s dedication does not stop at the club, she is also a very dedicated student with her schedule consisting of IB and advanced placement courses.
She said is going to use her scholarship to help pay for her tuition at either the University of Florida or Stetson University to become an international lawyer.
Sua said she decided to pursue law because she wants to continue her involvement in and outside of her community to “make a global difference.”
Sua will also receive a trip to Miami to participate in the Sun Life Rising Star National Summit. While in Miami, she will have the opportunity to participate in an essay contest that could award her with a four-year scholarship up to $50,000, if won.
The club also received a trip to Miami to participate in the Sun Life Rising Star National Summit and financial education training and curriculum materials. If the Boys and Girls Club is considered for the National Sun Life Rising Star Award while in Miami, they could receive an additional $50,000 in grants.
Sun Life will award a total of $220,000 in grants and scholarships to South Florida students and non-profit organizations and a total of $1 million for 2010 in the seven cities. There were three additional students who received a scholarship Wednesday.
The students and organizations will be recognized at a special pre-game on-field ceremony and celebration on Oct. 24 at the Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers game at the Sun Life stadium.