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Media Advisory

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Florida Panhandle's Top Stem Scholars to be Honored in Orlando

The Florida Panhandle's highest achieving science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students will join their peers from around the state Thursday and Friday in Orlando to be honored during the 2012 Sunshine State Scholars program. The two-day awards and recruitment event celebrates the accomplishments of these elite students and provides a unique opportunity for Florida's colleges and universities to recruit their talents.

The Scholars event started as a simple science and math competition in 1997 and has evolved into a program designed to recognize Florida's top high school STEM students and recruit them to pursue their post secondary education in Florida - increasing the likelihood that they will join Florida's future workforce. Each school district selects and names one 11th grade scholar based on established criteria.

The program will begin on Thursday evening with a welcome reception and continues on Friday with a breakfast, recruitment fair and workshops where students can talk with officials representing more than 40 public and private higher education institutions about the opportunities that are available at Florida's colleges and universities. The event concludes with an award luncheon.

The event will take place at

Doubletree Hotel at Entrance to Universal Orlando
5780 Major Blvd.

Thursday, Feb. 16
Welcome Reception

6:00 p.m.
Gerard Robinson, Florida Education Commissioner
Frank Brogan, Chancellor, State University System of Florida
Stacy Carlson, Vice President and Director, Helios Education Foundation

Friday, Feb. 17
8:00 a.m.

Jennifer Grove, Workforce Development Coordinator, Gulf Power
Dr. Jimmie L. Davis, Jr., President, STEMflorida

Recruitment Fair, Concurrent Exhibits and Workshops
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Awards Luncheon
12:00 p.m.

Roberto Martinez, Vice Chair, Florida State Board of Education
Pam Stewart, Chancellor, K-12 Public Schools
Rosemary Woods, Vice President of Transportation, Atkins
Stephen K. Klasko, M.D., CEO, USF Health, and Dean, Morsani College of Medicine

The Sunshine State Scholars program is a collaborative effort between the Florida Education Foundation, the Division of Florida Colleges, the State University System and the Florida Department of Education. Event sponsors of this year's program include the Helios Education Foundation, Atkins, Universal Orlando Resort, Gulf Power, Florida Trend Magazine, and the Florida Lottery.

A list of the Sunshine State Scholars from Florida's Panhandle is below.

Panhandle of Florida
District Student School
Bay Samantha Nicole Brooks J.R. Arnold High School
Calhoun Mitchell Darnell Blountstown High School
Escambia Preeyal Gupta Pensacola High School
Florida State University Brian Maher Florida State University School
Franklin Morgan Walker Franklin County High School
Gadsden Tiara Stroman East Gadsden High School
Gulf MaKayla Elissa Ramsey Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School
Holmes Zachary Cooley Holmes County High School
Jackson Blake Benton Marianna High School
Jefferson Tykeria Jones Jefferson County Middle/High School
Leon Diego Hernandez Rickards High School
Liberty Jimmy Brown Liberty County High School
Madison Keeley Smith Madison County High School
Okaloosa Kyle Saleeby Niceville High School
Santa Rosa Roman Vena Pace High School
Taylor James Clover Taylor County High School
Wakulla Jonathan Chunn Wakulla High School
Walton Elizabeth Evans Walton High School
Washington Alana Hearn Vernon High School

For more information about the Sunshine State Scholars program, visit