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Kiwanis awards scholarships

By Staff | May 22, 2015

Cape Coral Kiwanis Foundation scholarship receipents include: Amy Nguyen, Cape Coral; Josue Aguaiza, Mariner; Hanah Lee, Ida Baker; Lauren Jo Lukasik, Bishop Verot; Jordan Myers, Mariner; Antonia Vertichio, Island Coast; Anisha Pednekar, Evelyn Suarez, Claudia Sanchez and Marshall Hess, Oasis; Brooke Ortiz and David Siwarski, North Fort Myers; and Christian Vargas and Jessica Torres, Mariner.

They were good students, tested well, gave back to their community and, quite frankly, really needed the money to go to college.

On Wednesday, they were rewarded for their efforts as the Cape Coral Kiwanis Foundation held its annual Scholarship Awards Dinner at the Kiwanis Hall on Santa Barbara Boulevard, where 15 students were awarded $153,000 worth of scholarships to, as the Kiwanis would say “Give life to their dreams through education.”

Students from seven area high schools earned scholarships between $10,000 and $12,000, which will put a significant dent in what they need for four years in college.

Ron Kemper, chairman of the Kiwanis scholarship committee, said 46 students applied for the scholarships, and the recipients were based on a number of things.

“Half the evaluation is based on how they do in school, their potential based on ACT scores and financial need,” Kemper said. “We give a lot of weight to families where their income is so low that the kids, who do good in school, need financial help.”

Membership in Key Club, a Kiwanis for high school students, extracurricular activities, volunteering at Kiwanis stores also give the students extra points, Kemper said.

All recipients had to live in Cape Coral, though several attend schools outside the city.

Kemper said more scholarships were awarded this year as opposed to the previous two years when 10 were awarded, with the economy growing stronger.

“The stores have provided a steady stream of revenue, and we were lucky to get endowments from two families years ago, which gives us a great foundation for our program,” Kemper said.

The scholarship winners, with their high schools, were:

$10,000 Lubins scholarships: Amy Nguyen, Cape Coral; Josue Aguaiza, Mariner;

$10,000 Holmes Scholarship: Hanah Lee, Ida Baker;

$10,000 Hermann Scholarship: Lauren Jo Lukasik, Bishop Verot;

$11,000 Hawley Scholarship: Jordan Myers, Mariner.

$12,000 Ackerman Scholarship: Antonia Vertichio, Island Coast.

Other $10,000 scholarship award winners included: Anisha Pednekar, Evelyn Suarez, Claudia Sanchez and Marshall Hess, Oasis; Brooke Ortiz and David Siwarski, North Fort Myers; and Christian Vargas and Jessica Torres, Mariner.

Myers said she was thrilled when she found out she earned a scholarship.

“The school I’m going to is expensive and money is always a good thing. It’s good to know you don’t have to pay as much and I feel honored because a lot of kids applied,” Myers said, who has been in Key Club since freshman year and added that she thought it helped her.

Myers will attend the Florida Institute of Technology and go on the five-year fast-track program in entrepreneurship.

Suarez, who plans to attend FGCU to major in nursing and later go to medical school, said the scholarship will go a long way toward fulfilling her dreams.

“Money is tight and this will help me get there. I was excited when I won, but the process was simple. They looked at everything, including financial need,” Suarez said, a four-year member of Key Club. “I’m just so happy to be here now.”

Siwarski, who earned his fifth college scholarship, said this is his biggest award to date.

“This will cover a substantial amount of my college over four years. It allows me to not take out as many loans. I was super excited,” Siwarski said, who will attend the University of Florida to study neurology.

The Cape Coral Kiwanis Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the children who need help most, with events like this being among the biggest it does.

“These kids are truly amazing and it’s always enjoyable to get to do this,” Kemper said.