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Press Release

Friday, February 22, 2013

DOE Press Office
850-245-0413

Sunshine State Scholars Program Pays Tribute to Top Scholars

- Two-day awards and recruitment event spotlights the state's top STEM students -

Tallahassee, Fla., February 22, 2013 - Florida's best STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) students earned top billing as Sunshine State Scholars yesterday and today in Orlando. The state's highest-achieving eleventh grade STEM scholars from each school district were the focus at the annual recognition and recruitment event designed to encourage them to remain in Florida for their postsecondary education and STEM-related career.

"Our Sunshine State Scholars represent the best and brightest of Florida's students," said Commissioner of Education Dr. Tony Bennett. "Just as a coach recruits top athletes, it's our mission to recruit Florida's finest academic talent to higher education and STEM-focused job opportunities in Florida. I applaud our scholars for their hard work and look forward to watching them lead Florida to an even brighter future."

The program began yesterday evening with a welcome reception keynoted by Commissioner Bennett, Florida College System Assistant Chancellor Kasongo Butler, and Stacy Carlson with Helios Education Foundation. Today's activities began with a breakfast event headlined by Jennifer Grove with Gulf Power Company, State Board of Education member Kathleen Shanahan, and State University System of Florida Chancellor Frank Brogan. After the breakfast, the scholars met with higher education officials at a recruitment fair to talk about their futures and explore opportunities and careers that await them in Florida. An awards luncheon capped off the event. Jim Thompson, president of State Farm of Florida, presented $50,000 for STEM teacher service learning mini grants and AT&T President Marshall Criser III gave each scholar an iPad Mini. The luncheon continued with motivational speeches by Florida Senator David Simmons and Adam Dalton with the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition.

"These top-performing students are essential for Florida's economic future," said Florida College System Chancellor Randy Hanna. "Florida colleges are the gateway to postsecondary and employment opportunities. The Sunshine State Scholars program encourages our bright young talent to stay in Florida and contribute to the state's success."

"As Florida works to build a knowledge-based economy, it is critical that we recruit the help of our high-achieving students in STEM fields," said State University System Chancellor Frank T. Brogan. "The Sunshine State Scholars program aims to do just that, by giving talented students opportunities that will contribute not only to their personal successes, but to the success of the entire state."

"The Sunshine State Scholars program opens the doors to fascinating STEM careers right here in Florida," said Florida Education Foundation Chairman Dominic M. Calabro. "We are proud the Foundation is involved in this fantastic event and thank our business partners for their generous contributions to its success."

The Sunshine State Scholars program is a collaboration between the Florida Education Foundation, the Division of Florida Colleges, the State University System of Florida, and the Florida Department of Education. Event sponsors of this year's program include AT&T, State Farm, Helios Education Foundation, Universal Orlando Resort, Gulf Power Company, The Florida Lottery, Florida Trend Magazine, and Capital City Bank.

For more information about the program, visit Sunshine State Scholars.