Sunshine State Scholars Named for Okaloosa County for 2014

Joseph Gargas, a junior at Fort Walton Beach High School, has been named the Sunshine State Scholar for Okaloosa County for 2014 and Seth Forehand, a junior at Baker School, has been named the Sunshine State Scholar Alternate for Okaloosa County.

The Sunshine State Scholars program recognizes Florida's top 11th grade students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).  Each district high school is invited to select one junior, distinguished in both mathematics and science.  The goal of the program is to increase the number of students with outstanding mathematics and science credentials who choose to stay in Florida for their postsecondary education.  The program also introduces the students to the vast array of STEM career opportunities available in their home state.

“Often times throughout life we are told that science, technology, engineering and mathematics are the basis of education as societies around us coerce youth to pursue most knowledge within these academic stronghold – a race to fix their fragmented pasts,” said Gargas in his application essay.  “Essentially, these intellectual subjects are the basis of our existence on Earth, and within our existence lies our future.  The road of my future is beginning to be paved into a path that reaches far into the distance of STEM.  The provisions of Okaloosa County have fueled my growing interests in the STEM career, starting at an early age.”

Click here to read Joseph’s complete essay.

Joseph, his parents, and a science or mathematics teacher of his choice, will be invited to attend the 2014 Sunshine State Scholars program, hosted by the Florida Education Foundation, in Orlando, Florida on February 13-14, 2014.  Here students will be recognized for their academic achievements and have the opportunity to speak with representatives from Florida’s colleges and universities to discuss career and postsecondary opportunities available to them in Florida.

“Receiving this award is truly an honor," said Gargas.  "Attending this special event is extremely exciting and makes me want to continue doing what I love to do and what I do best.  It is simply amazing!”

Seth Forehand, the Sunshine State Scholar Alternate for Okaloosa County, is very involved in the STEM Club at Baker School.  He is interested in pursuing a medical career and said, "It was a nice surprise to be nominated out of the entire school."

Seth found out the day before the application was due that he had been nominated.  Applicants had to prepare a brief essay on their career choice, and submit a resume and their community service involvement.

“A wise man once said, ‘Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them,’” said Forehand in his application essay.  “I was not born a genius with incomparable intelligence.  I also did not just haphazardly walk into brilliance.  However, I have worked to accomplish greatness in various academic areas, and I plan on continuing to make progress and reach my goal of becoming a legend in my own family, school, and community.”

Click here to read Seth’s complete essay.

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

Pictured above: Stephanie Thetford, Common Core Secondary Math, Joseph Gargas, and Tracy Fister, Fort Walton Beach High School Math Teacher.