Alessandra Alejo, Choctaw HS, Selected 2021-22 Okaloosa County Sunshine State Scholar

Every year, school districts across the state of Florida select their top 11th grade students in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) to represent their district as the Sunshine State Scholar. Okaloosa County is proud to announce Alessandra Alejo, a junior at Choctawhatchee High School, has been selected the Okaloosa County Sunshine State Scholar. Alessandra, along with her parents, will travel to Orlando, Florida, in June for an extraordinary two-day program designed to bring together scholars from around the state, connect them with employers that specialize in the STEM fields, and create a networking opportunity between the scholars and schools from Florida’s College and State University System. Cole Armstrong, a junior at Fort Walton Beach High School, has been selected as the Alternate Okaloosa County Sunshine State Scholar.

Alessandra Alejo, Choctawhatchee High School – Okaloosa County Sunshine State Scholar

Alessandra Alejo, Choctawhatchee High School – Okaloosa County Sunshine State Scholar

Alessandra Alejo, a junior at Choctawhatchee High School, is working towards the International Baccalaureate Diploma with a full catalog of coursework. In addition to her studies, Alessandra is the vice-president to both the Global Perspectives and Student2Student clubs. She is the spirit and activity coordinator for the Spanish Honor Club, and a member of the National Honor Society. Beyond interest and honor clubs, Alessandra participates in Choctawhatchee's archery and tennis programs, along with the leadership program at the school. Regularly, she volunteers at Liza Jackson Preparatory School's Aftercare as a tutor and caretaker of the students. Over the summer, Alessandra works with disabled veterans and Heal Our Troops America to guide the veterans in training their service dogs for basic to more complex tasks. She hopes that these experiences working with a diverse range of people will prepare her in her pursuit of neurology in higher education.

Cole Armstrong, Fort Walton Beach High School – Alternate Okaloosa County Sunshine State Scholar

Cole Armstrong, Fort Walton Beach High School – Alternate Okaloosa County Sunshine State Scholar

Cole Armstrong, a junior at Fort Walton Beach High School, is active in the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) engineering program. PLTW is the nation's leading provider of K-12 STEM programs. He has academically maintained a 4.57 grade point average, earned industry certifications for Autodesk Inventor Certified User, RECF Pre­ Engineering Certification, and is currently working on Autodisk Fusion 360 and RECF Robotics certifications. Cole has taken accelerated science and math courses since middle school initiating his passion for the STEM area. He enjoys the conceptual part of the engineering classes, such as the use of Boolean algebra to simplify the sum of products in transistor-transistor logic. Cole continues to challenge himself in the STEM area by attending aviation and STEM camps, such as Auburn University’s Aviation Camp, which provided hands on experience with drones, commercial and military airplanes, and aerospace engineering. He is currently taking a ground school course through Jeppesen to start his path towards a Private Pilot License. In his current Engineering class, he has learned how to solder circuit boards and set up actual circuits. Cole is able to use Ohm's law to solve for resistance, current, and voltage in series and parallel circuits and calculate forces and distances in simple machines. He would like to pursue a degree in aerospace, mechanical or chemical engineering and find more effective ways to harvest and store energy.