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A dozen finalists chosen for Leader 4 Life Fellowship

By Staff | Dec 22, 2010

Twelve students from Florida were selected last week as finalists for the Take Stock in Children’s Leader 4 Life Fellowship, which included one student from the Lee County Public School District.
South Fort Myers High senior Michael Burris received a Macintosh laptop computer for being selected as one of the top 12 finalists.
“I didn’t even know about that,” he said about receiving the computer. “That was crazy.”
Burris said to be chosen as one of the top 12 students provides him with assurance that when he applies for a scholarship, it is possible that he will receive one.
“Being accepted, you think scholarships are kind of possible,” he said.
The Leader’s for Life Fellowship was created in partnership with the Asofsky Family Foundation.
Mark Asofsky said he formed the Asofsky Family Foundation in 2006, which primarily addresses children issues, after he had been involved in various charitable activities for a good amount of time. He explained that he and his wife wanted to formalize their charitable giving and create a legacy for his family.
Asofsky said after attending an annual conference for Take Stock in Children, he was moved by the children who spoke, which intrigued him to look into offering a program that would benefit students attending college.
After researching Take Stock in Children and finding out that the organization already provided at-risk students with tuition scholarships, he wanted to take it a step further and provide scholarships for other expenses that are associated with college.
Asofsky said they received 102 applications this year for the Leader’s4 Life Fellowship, which were narrowed down to 12 by a regional selection committee.
“These student applications were absolutely phenomenal,” he said.
Asofsky said the top 12 will have two weeks to produce a short 5-minute video essay, which is due on Dec. 27. The final selection committee will then select the final five by Jan. 15.
Those students will receive a four-year scholarship to cover their college expenses.
He explained that since a lot of the students are among the first generation to attend college in their family, it becomes difficult for them to understand the financial burdens that occur while attending college.
“We are hoping to take all the pressures off from a financial perspective,” Asofsky said, so the students can “focus exclusively in learning education personal development.”
His goal is to increase the number of fellowships they are able to give out every year for students who are attending universities in Florida.
“I’m trying to focus on education in Florida,” he said and “develop these students into leaders in their families, communities and eventually leaders in this state.”
Burris has been accepted to the University of North Florida, University of Central Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University and The University of Tampa.
He said he is still waiting to hear back from the University of Miami and the University of Florida.
He said his top choice is the University of Miami where he wants to study mechanical design engineering.
“Take Stock in Children is a really good program,” Burris said. “They match you with a mentor that fits your personality. It has been really beneficial to me.”