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Kiwanis gives record number of scholarships

By Staff | May 20, 2016

The Cape Coral Kiwanis gave out nearly a quarter of a million dollars in scholarships to 20 Cape Coral high school seniors at the organization’s annual awards dinner Wednesday.

The students earned scholarships between $12,000 and $16,000, with nearly half of them being from Oasis High School, continuing that school’s run of amazing fortune this year.

Ron Kemper, chairman of the scholarship committee, said it was another record year for Kiwanis in awarding $246,000 to the best students in Cape Coral.

“The fact we have two thrift stores helps us with the revenue stream that allows us to give back to the community,” Kemper said. “Everything is run by volunteers, and, except for the light bills, everything goes back to the kids.”

There were 45 applicants. Scholarship candidates must be Cape Coral residents (though they can go to school outside the city), must have an unweighted grade-point average of 3.5, and are ranked by their SAT and ACT scores, extracurricular activities, honors they received, positions of leadership, community service and financial need.

“Some of these kids have more than 500 hours of community service, while making these straight A grades,” Kemper said. “The competition each year gets stiffer. Six of the kids have 4.0 grade-point averages.”

All told, the winners logged more than 7,100 community service hours among them.

The scholarship winners were:

Sara Bryce, Rose Graves, Taylor Hadden, Delanie Kirwan, Sara Logan, Jillian Lucia, Michael O’Donnell, Andrew Orbe and David Victoria, Oasis High School; Rachel Barnes, Hayley Johnston and Hannah Theriault, Mariner High School; Megan Galbreath and Anan Quan, Cape Coral High School, Paige Santiago and Gabriela Castellanos, North Fort Myers; Lisi Moreno, Island Coast; Kiana Guerrazzi, Canterbury; and Keyanna Ralph, Florida Southwestern Collegiate.

Quan was awarded the $12,000 Hermann Scholarship, Castellanos the $12,000 Holmes Scholarship, Orbe the $14,000 Hawley Scholarship, and Victoria the $16,000 Ackerman Scholarship.

Victoria, who won the largest award, said it was nice that his four years of hard work has paid off.

“It’s been a long time coming, putting in all that work. It’s a goal that is finally in your hands,” Victoria said, who will attend Penn to study cognitive science and criminology.

Guerrazzi said she is very grateful for her scholarship, which she will take with her to Vanderbilt.

“It will help me pay for college. I plan to go into medicine and become a doctor. I was shocked, but very excited and happy. It took a while to sink in that I won,” Guerrazzi said, who also won the Cape Coral Mayor’s and Ronald McDonald scholarships.

Santiago will go to the University of Florida to major in business finance, but not before going to Chile with her church group on a mission trip in Santiago.

“I was ecstatic because I had applied for 15 scholarships and hadn’t heard from any of them. This was the first I heard back from and when I saw $12,000, I was so pumped,” said Santiago, who has since been awarded the Harney Point Kiwanis scholarship for $3,000, and a Home Depot scholarship for $2,500, among others.

Ralph, the FSW grad, will have the unique advantage of not only having a high school diploma, but an associate’s degree as well. She will attend the University of Virginia to study biomedical engineering or biology.

“It’s an amazing experience. I can’t thank Kiwanis enough because they have supported me and continue to give me opportunities to volunteer and grow into a great individual,” Ralph said.