MANATEE -- Since it began awarding scholarships in 2006, the Palmetto-based law firm of Kallins, Little & Delgado has given $131,000 to 91 exceptional Manatee County high school students.
Thursday night, attorney Jim Delgado called the 12 recipients sharing $16,000 the "cream of the crop" of the Class of 2014, which was selected from 120 applicants. Some scholarships were for as much as $3,000, some were for $2,000 and the others were for $1,000.
"We want you to go off, get your education, develop your talents and strengths and return to Manatee County," attorney Scott Kallins told the group gathered at IMG Country Club.
Paul Logan, a retired circuit court judge who served as keynote speaker, gave students some advice on following their dreams, setting goals and staying the course.
"Don't be distracted once
you settle on a course," Logan said.
He talked about the impact they can have in service to their community, and talked about Teen Court, which he helped establish.
Teen Court has spread to 50 Florida counties and helped put many at-risk youngsters on a firm footing, he said.
He urged students not to be so driven they fail to take breaks, to recreate and recharge.
Luis Enrique Quinones: Palmetto High School senior, $1,000 scholarship. In 2013, he received the award for most improved student. He is a three-sport athlete: football, wrestling, and weightlifting. He plans to attend Albright College or Florida Gulf Coast University and pursue a double major in business and art.
Rebekah Frey: Lakewood Ranch High School senior, $1,000 scholarship. She has a 4.46 weighted grade point average and is an active member of the Drama Department and the International Thespians Society. She plans to attend the University of Florida and major in biology with a pre-med major.
Katie Yetzer: Southeast High School senior, $1,000 scholarship. She will graduate in the top 10 percent of her class with a 4.46 weighted grade point average. A member of the varsity golf and tennis teams, she plans to attend the University of South Florida and major in pre-medical sciences to become a physician assistant.
Isabelle Bermudez: Braden River High School senior, $1,000 scholarship. Before transferring to Braden River, she attended Saint Stephen's where she was editor-in-chief of The Gauntlet newspaper. She plans to attend Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., and major in public relations.
Taylor Zeisloft: Manatee High School senior, $3,000 scholarship. He maintains a weighted 4.56 GPA, and is in the top 3 percent of his class. He has 900 hours community service and is president of the senior class, secretary of the National Honor Society and District 18 vice president for the Future Business Leaders of America. He plans to attend Heavener School of Business and major in business administration finance.
Hunter Brown, Palmetto High School senior, $2,000 scholarship. Hunter is class valedictorian, has a 4.7 GPA and is a four-year soccer player. Hunter plans to attend the University of Florida to major in mechanical engineering.
Wilson Palencia, Bayshore High School senior, $2,000 scholarship. Wilson will graduate in the top 10 percent of his class and be the first person in his family to attend college. He plans to attend State College of Florida.
Kasey Muse, Bayshore High School senior, $1,000 scholarship. Kasey will graduate with a 4.0 GPA. She has had to overcome tremendous person obstacles to get to where she is today. She is dual enrolled at State College of Florida.
Vincent Franco, Lakewood Ranch High School senior, $1,000 scholarship. He has a weighted 4.63 GPA and will graduate as valedictorian. He plans to attend Florida State University within the Honors College.
Gillian Palino, Southeast High School senior, $1,000 scholarship. She will graduate as valedictorian and is the recipient of the Gold Feather Award.
Sarita Fulford, Bradenton Christian senior, $1,000 scholarship. She will graduate with a 4.0 GPA. She plans to attend South Eastern University in Lakeland.
Gianni Traylor, senior, Braden River High School, $1,000 scholarship. She excelled in the face of adversity, including the death of her father and serious injury of her mother. She accumulated 650 hours of public service.
James A. Jones Jr., Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter: @jajones1.