SARASOTA, FL – The Sarasota YMCA Achievers program awarded college scholarships to recent high school graduates as well as to college students who participate in the program. More than 100 community members – including the scholarship recipients and their families, YMCA and community leaders, Advisory Council members, and Achiever program participants – were in attendance for the celebration luncheon, which took place at The Francis.
The Sarasota YMCA Achievers program empowers students to set and achieve goals in both their educational and personal lives, encouraging continuous growth in the areas of personal development, college preparation, community service and leadership, cultural enrichment, and career options. The program, which has served the community for 27 years, is open to all middle and high school students in Sarasota County.
Program participant Madison Sosa, who is a rising high school senior at Riverview High School, served as the Mistress of Ceremonies. Sarasota YMCA president and CEO Laura Gilbert greeted the guests and the awards were presented by Achievers education outreach services program director Jone Williams and program coordinator Daisy Saunders.
Graduating seniors who received scholarships were Cortnei Allen, Ayana Butler, Aliyah Cunningham, Jamaya DeVaughn, Summer Devlin, Jaylen Jones, Alexus Lewis, Kayla McGann, LeAsia McNeal, Amanda Rosado-Rodriguez, Luis Rodriguez-Sanchez, Britney Romero, Jairo Scarpatti, Brandon Williams and Kenya Woodard. Twenty-five program participants who are currently enrolled in college received continuing education scholarships.
Special honors were accorded to John and Ann Ross, who have been donating to the Achievers Scholarship Fund for more than 10 years in memory of their late daughter, Tracy Ross. Jacqueline Paulk, who founded elementary school after-care program Seeds of Academic Success, was also recognized for her role in helping young people gain academic success over her 40-year teaching career. The A. Jean Battie Scholarship was awarded to Britney Romero, and the Martin Luther King Scholarship was awarded to Kenya Woodward. Graduating alumni Jazsmeen Gilbert, who earned her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Barry University, and ReNieka Perry, who earned her Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication from USF-Sarasota Manatee, were recognized for their academic success. Finally, the “Pushy Parents” awards were given to Cheryl Woodard and Saran Devaughn, in recognition of their volunteer efforts with the program and advocacy for their children in the program.
Also recognized were community partners Beverly Williams of CareerSource Suncoast and Christopher Parent of Keiser University for their support of the Achievers program.
“For the past 27 years, our Achievers program has helped to set up area students for scholastic and life success,” said president and CEO Laura Gilbert. “This program helps participants to be better students, to gain a better understanding of which careers they might wish to pursue, to develop greater self-confidence, and become more involved in their community. We congratulate our scholarship and award recipients and offer our gratitude to those who volunteer and sponsor in support of the Achievers program.”
Sponsors of the program include Publix Super Markets Charities, Sarasota County, and United Way Suncoast. For more information, go to sarasotaymca.org/achievers.
About the Sarasota YMCA
The Sarasota YMCA is committed to strengthening the community: through youth development by nurturing the potential of every child and teen, through healthy living by improving the community’s health and well-being, and through social responsibility by giving back and providing support to our neighbors. Every day, we work to make sure that everyone – regardless of age, income or background – has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. For more information, go to sarasotaymca.org or call (941) 951-2916.