By ED FRANKS
The Matlacha Mariners awarded four scholarships to Pine Island students Thursday night at the Pine Island Elks Club.
The scholarship winners were, from left, Rebecca Cicoria, Jerilynn Rossman, Cameron Swartz and Asa Rees.
"We had about 15 kids send in applications for our Miss Judy Education Scholarships this year," said Ross Stornello, chairman of the Matlacha Mariners scholarship committee. "They had until June 1 to send them to us."
Applicants had to meet the following qualifications - A high school diploma or equivalent and one of the following: 1. Applicant is a former student of Pine Island Elementary School or, ?2. Applicant is a Matlacha Mariner or, 3. Someone in the applicant's immediate family is a Matlacha Mariner or, 4. Applicant is a resident of Pine Island.
The "Miss Judy" scholarship fund began with an initial contribution of $1,000 from "Miss Judy" and her husband, Butch Gay, of Matlacha.
Four students stood in the front of the room as Stornello introduced them.
"This is why we do this," Stornello said. "To offer these kids a better opportunity for an education. We had a number of applications to sort through and the committee did a great job. I will introduce each of the four scholarship winners in the order we received the applications and Gerilynn Rossman was the first."
Rossman will be attending the University of Florida, working toward a degree in biomedical engineering and then on to a Ph.D.
"My name is Gerilynn Rossman and I will be starting my freshman year at University of Florida for a biomedical engineering degree," she said. "I have done robotics for the past four years and I was captain of the team for the past two and we've made it to the state championships for the past two years. I've been on the island my whole life and I like to play golf. Thank you so much."
"Cameron Swartz is next," Stornello said. "Cameron plans to attend Florida Gulf Coast University taking business courses to prepare for a future degree in hospitality management from University of Central Florida."
"I plan on switching to University of Central Florida which is linked with Rosen College which is a college specifically for hospitality management," Swartz said. "People that graduate from Rosen get picked up by corporations like Disney, Universal and cruise ship lines. I would like to work in the cruise ship industry and then in to hotel management. I just graduated from Mariner High School with Gerilynn. I currently work at the Pine Island Community Pool working as many hours as I possibly can to earn as much as I can. Thank you guys for this scholarship. It is an amazing help. I would like to say that I applied for and was accepted in the FGCU Eagles Leadership through Learning Service Program which is a very exclusive group because only 40 kids are accepted out of 6,000."
"This is Asa Rees," Stornello said. "Asa will continue at Southeastern University enrolled in their Department of Christian Ministries with religion as his major, with a double minor in youth ministry and organizational leadership."
"My name is Asa and I want to thank you so much for this scholarship," Rees said. "As I go into my junior year I am beginning to realize the weight of tuition and how the debt will effect me after I graduate. This scholarship helps lift some of that weight off my shoulders. I want to build a strong theological-biblical base for all of my teachings. I would like to open a recreational center for troubled youth in a hostile environment so kids can find good clean fun to get kids off of the streets. At the same time deliver the gospel. That's my long-term plan and you guys are helping us brick by brick and I thank you so much."
"This is Rebecca Cicoria. Rebecca will be attending Southeastern University as a freshman seeking a bachelor's degree in social work, and then a master's degree in human services with emphasis on substance abuse counseling," Stornello said.
"I've lived on the island for 11 years and just graduated from Ida Baker High School," Cicoria said. "I ran cross country and varsity track all four years. I plan on studying social work and services and I am very, very appreciative of this award and it's going to help a lot."
Rebecca is the third Cicoria to receive a scholarship from the Mariners. She has a brother and a sister who have done that as well.
Scholarships range up to $2,000 each. Scholarships may be used for tuition, books or other acceptable facets of education at either a certification or licensing program or toward a college degree.
"I want to thank all of you for being here tonight and congratulate all of our scholarship winners and wish them much success," Stornello said.