The Matlacha Mariners presented five students with scholarships totalling $10,000 Thursday night at the Matlacha Community Center during their monthly meeting.
Matlacha Mariner Scholarship Chairman Ross Stornello said they received 17 applications this year for the Matlacha Mariners Miss Judy Education Scholarship, which is more than they have ever received before.
"We are increasing either the amount or the number of scholarships," Stornello said about the Miss Judy Education Scholarship.
The Matlacha Mariners awarded five scholarships Thursday night during their monthly meeting at the Matlacha Community Center. Those pictured include: Yuri Bykau, who accepted the scholarship on Rachel Cicoria’s behalf, Eric Agostinelli, who accepted the scholarship on Jed Cicoria’s behalf, Matlacha Mariner member Garth Moreau, scholarship winner Shayna Talbott, Matlacha Mariner member Carl Jervis, scholarship winner Caleb Davis, Matlacha Mariner member Wayne Reed, scholarship winner Evan Berlanti and Matlacha Mariner Scholarship Chairman Ross Stornello.
When the program first began, the Mariners gave away one scholarship worth $1,000 due to the initial contribution from Miss Judy, who was a resident of Matlacha. The Mariners thought the scholarship program was a good idea, so they decided to continue it year after year. Now the students receive a $2,000 scholarship.
Before the five students received their scholarship, Stornello took a few moments to explain the application process and how the Mariners make an objective decision of who the recipients will be. He said after all of the applicants personal information is blacked out on each application, each member of the committee receives a copy.
"It's all very anonymously done," Stornello said.
The applicant is judged on a numerical scale that is based on such criteria as their grade point average, community involvement and dedication to their goal.
"The five highest point values are the kids that get the scholarship," Stornello told the students.
He said each one of the student's demonstrated educational abilities that are exceptional, along with the demonstration of willingness to be very involved in the community.
"The Matlacha Mariners are proud to be able to help them in pursuing their goals," Stornello said.
Garth Moreau, Matlacha Mariner member, told the kids that they are in a very competitive field.
"Congratulations for you pushing ahead," he said.
The five students who received a $2,000 scholarship this year were Evan Berlanti, Jed Cicoria, Rachel Cicoria, Caleb Davis and Shayna Talbott.
Berlanti will be attending Palm Beach Atlantic University in August to pursue a degree in English and History.
Jed, a graduate from Ida Baker High School, is also attending Palm Beach Atlantic University where he plans on majoring in athletic training.
His sister, Rachel, is currently working towards a degree in criminal justice with a minor in psychology at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Davis, who is a three-time recipient of the Mariner's scholarship, is currently in his junior year at Edison State College where he is pursing a career in the medical field.
Talbott, a recent graduate from Ida Baker High School, is attending Tallahassee Community College where she will major in international relations and ROTC.
The money for the scholarship program is generated from the Matlacha Mariners Mullet Toss, Seafood Festival and Blues Festival that they hold throughout the year.