Lakewood Ranch High School student Kelsey McLeod has dreamed of going to Louisiana State University since she was 8 years old.
Her love of gymnastics first drove McLeod to college, and after visiting college last fall, she was sure of it.
“Walking onto a campus when it had been my dream school since I was 8 years old, I literally fell in love with it,” said McLeod, who has lived in Florida all his life. “I want a different culture.”
Attending an out-of-state college isn’t cheap, but McLeod will be helped by a $10,000 scholarship from the Picerne Family Foundation.
McLeod was one of nine seniors from Lakewood Ranch High School to receive a $10,000 scholarship from the foundation.
“Honestly, I was speechless because I applied for a lot of different scholarships but didn’t expect to get one, especially one for $10,000,” McLeod said. “I’m super excited.”
The Picerne Family Foundation was started by a Rhode Island real estate group in 1925. The company has regional offices in Florida.
Ricardo Acevedo, a college and career counselor at Lakewood Ranch High School, said the foundation contacted him about the scholarships.
On March 28, the nine seniors received the scholarships. Each of the students will receive $1,250 semi-annually throughout their four years of college.
All the elders said the scholarship relieved stress.
“I will be the first person in my family to go to university,” said Mohamed Hageltoum, one of the scholarship recipients. “Both my parents are African immigrants. I want to study civil engineering at (the University of Central Florida) and I want to take advantage of it (knowledge and experience) and return to the Middle East where I can help.
Scholarship recipient Brooke Pater said the scholarship will help her focus on her studies and start her own business while having fewer student loans to worry about.
In addition to providing their transcripts, a letter of recommendation and two essays, students had to write about a time when they helped someone else.
Annabelle Lam, one of the scholarship recipients, wrote that she was sitting next to a middle school student who had recently immigrated to the United States. She helped the student transition to life in Florida and also helped him learn to speak English.
“I went through a tough time when I was younger so I just wanted to help him because English is not my first language either,” Lam said.
Here’s what the students have planned for their future.
University: Louisiana State University
Major: Professional Sales in Business
Dream job: Medical Sales
“I’m super excited because I’m basically starting a new life,” McLeod said. “I go to a school where I don’t know anyone. I’m 11 o’clock from my family. I am so excited for this new chapter in my life.
University: Vanderbilt University
Major: Human and organizational development
Dream job: Marketing of technological products
“I wanted to go to a prestigious school and I know Vanderbilt is known for being a collaborator,” Lam said. “I just wanted to be in that type of environment to go to college. Your junior or senior year, they pair you with companies for one-semester internships.
University: University of Florida
Dream job: Owner of his own architecture firm
“Both of my parents went to the University of Florida, and it has the best architecture program in the state,” Williemsen said. “There are great opportunities because it’s in Gainesville, and there are a lot of people my family knows, so I could have a lot of opportunities from there.”
University: Undecided but between Notre Dame, University of Florida and Georgia Tech
Dream job: A job related to cancer research
“These are all the best schools,” Leavy said. “They all have top-notch engineering programs, which is what I want to touch on. They have beautiful campuses and plenty of internship and research opportunities.
University: Valencia College
Major: Film production technology
Dream job: Director
“I want to be well-rounded in all aspects of film and be able to take on any job I want, from directing to editing, because I enjoy all aspects of production,” Calamaras said. “I hope to be able to make great films one day.”
University: University of Central Florida
Major: Public works
Dream job: Civil engineer
“I want to go back to the Middle East and help people there,” Hageltoum said. “While I was living there I saw a lot of poor infrastructure and unmaintained buildings. I know my talents because I can design, I have good problem-solving skills and I’m relatively good in math, so it makes sense for me to make them work and help out there.
University: University of South Florida
Dream job: FBI behavior analyst
“After watching ‘Criminal Minds’, I did some research (behavioral analysts) and found that not everything on the show was exactly what it was,” said said Ibarra. “They’re depicted as one group on the show, but really there are three different groups that target specific areas, and they’re not always on the ground. But it’s definitely an experience I want to have. , and it will be a growing experience.
University: University of Tampa
Dream job: Business owner or real estate investor
“The entrepreneurship program is good (at the University of Tampa),” Pater said. “It was also about being able to play beach volleyball. It’s always been my goal to play varsity sports and be able to get a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship and a master’s degree as well.
University: Auburn University
Major: Biology with pre-medical track
Dream job: Something in the medical field
“My best friend’s dad is a doctor, and I grew up watching him and fell in love with what he did,” Langlois said. “I feel like it will be better for me in the long run. I don’t know exactly what I want to do, but I feel like biology is kind of a good buffer for me to figure out what I want to do in the future.