Post’s high school Pathfinders out to change world: How they’ll do it
The high school seniors who rose to the top of the Pathfinder Scholarship Awards announced Wednesday night have not only secured bragging rights for their academic careers to date, they are poised to represent the region for years to come.
LeeAnn Hewitt has plans to compete in the next summer Olympics. Sabrina Ginsberg aspires to become a doctor to NASA astronauts. Celinie Nguyen is on track to crack the grip of world hunger with a nutrient-packed gel for the soil. And Gregory (Terrell) Seabrooks, one of the nation’s leading debaters, has his sights set on the White House.
Not to belittle what the winners have already accomplished.
Classical piano player Jada Campbell performed twice at Carnegie Hall. Mark Heatzig built a drone photography business that serves dozens of Realtor clients. And Shantanu Jakhete had his mosquito research published in a national medical journal.
These students were among 69 soon-to-be graduates from Palm Beach and Martin counties honored for their accomplishments at the 34th annual Pathfinders Scholarship Awards ceremony at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach.
Since their inception, the awards, sponsored by The Palm Beach Post, have handed out more than $2.85 million to more than 2,300 students.
Each year, that includes 54 students in public and private schools who earn prizes in 18 categories. First place winners in each category take home $4,000 scholarships. Second-place finalists get $3,000, while third-place finalists earn $2,500. Additional scholarships were also handed out, bringing the awards total Wednesday night to $209,000.
Not surprisingly, they are an articulate bunch, sometimes speaking a language even some adults would find challenging.
“I was intrigued by how a simple first order differential equation (Newton’s Law of Cooling) could accurately model the temperatures of a cooling body or how the simple Beer’s Law and colorimeter could almost perfectly predict concentration of an unknown substance,” wrote Boca High’s Yuria Utsumi, winner in mathematics. She wants to combine her growing math, computing and business skills to make the financial industry more efficient.
Others are to the point.
“I hope to become the strongest woman in the world for powerlifting by age 19,” said LeeAnn Hewitt, who landed the top honor in sports. Hewitt already holds 12 International Powerlifting Federation World Records. Just months ago, she benched 270 pounds and lifted 235 pounds in the clean-and-jerk. Hewitt is no academic slouch, ranking in the top 3 percent of her Wellington High School class.
And others are dreamers.
Reid Champlin, winner in the history and political science category, has mingled with leaders on the world stage including advisers to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and aides to the French ambassador to the U.S. He’s worked on a successful campaign to land the first black judge on Palm Beach County’s court. And he watched as his candidate Hillary Clinton fell short of her presidential aspirations. And he’s a soccer ref. His stated goal:
“Walls still stand between us. I want to help tear them down and watch as the partitions give way to a stronger world.”