Maliyah White, 18, of Dreyfoos School of the Arts,
Florida ranked no. 7
Chas Payson and Olivia Payson stand at the 2019
By Laura Jazmin Tolliver
It’s a “hard knock life” for many Millennials. Between being criticized for excessive amounts of time spent on social media to 66 percent of us having nothing saved for retirement, finding success as a young professional can be difficult. And let’s not forget having to endure the old, run-down avocado toast joke. Now, add to the conversation the fact that the state you live in plays a role a your success, too.
If you live in Florida, brace yourself because the Sunshine State ranks no. 7 for the amount of Millennials with depression. But why?
Most of us have invested countless dollars into getting college degrees, but we’re still behind where our parents were financially at our age. How do we catch up? Side hustles.
We can make extra money doing just about anything, including simply walking. From driving gigs like Uber and Postmates to writing projects on Upwork, there are a lot of opportunities to make money on the side.
Second jobs are nothing new, of course, but they’re on the rise, especially among young professionals. And that’s because 61% of Millennials believe they could find more job security by owning their own business instead of working for someone else.
“Side hustles are great not only for extra income but to discover if your passions are something you could see yourself taking on full-time,”said 25-year-old Dominique Jean-Jacques, a Boynton Beach Integrated Communications Specialist who does marketing and graphic design as a side hustle.
Social media marketing is a good way for young professionals to supplement their income, but according to Forbes, there are plenty of other options:
Start an Instagram marketing business
Brew your own beer
Become a tutor
Teach an online courses
Start up a podcast
Sell used electronics
Side hustles are great because they offer a gateway from the daily grind as well as a glimpse into entrepreneurship and managing a business.
Around 66 percent of Millennials want to start their own business, but only 0.22% of Millennials start new businesses in any given month, compared to 0.37% of baby boomers.
The good news is that Millennials are able to take advantage of readily available technology more than previous generations, which makes a side job more possible.
“The [side hustle] numbers right now are trending — one in four Millennials has at least a second job,”said Kaytie Zimmerman, a contributing writer to Forbes magazine in reference to a Bankrate study.
And it’s a good thing we’re racking up extra money because we may be in trouble when it’s time to retire.
The solution: We can use the technology we’ve invented to work for us — not just for seeing what we will look like as elderly people, but financially.
There are financial apps out there that can help you save money, build a budget and manage income. And if we have to use our phones daily anyway, it’s not a hassle to download a handy budgeting app. It’s quick, easy — and might just help us save up for that vacation we’ve been thinking about.
Whether you own an iPhone or you’re Team Android, you can download these helpful apps:
Fudget: Budget Planner Tracker — 4.8 stars
Mint: Personal Finance & Money — 4.7 stars
Clarity Money — Budget Manager — 4.7 stars
Acorn: Investment Spare Change — 4.7 stars
EveryDollar Easy Budgeting app — 4.7 stars
And we need all the help we can get.
We are the creators of game-changing lifestyle tools like social media platforms and transportation apps like Uber, but we’re also a generation plagued with student loan debt and unsteady job and housing markets.
The average Floridian owes $36,706 in student loan debt in 2019 — an 8.5% increase from last year, according to estimates by Experian, a credit rating agency.
Gainesville — home to the beloved gators — made the top 5 list of U.S. metro areas that has the highest student loan debt with an average of $44,508 per student, Experian says. This is bad news considering the average full-time working woman made $39,000 in 2017, according to an analysis from Pew Research Center based on census data.
Even with available assistance programs, more than half of recent graduates have doubts and are worried about having to work extra jobs to repay student loans, a Discover Student Loans survey reported. And many people are just downright anxious about their pockets.
Ready for the good news?
The last of Millennials — soon to be America’s largest living adult generation — graduated college in 2019, and even though there’s a lot of uncertainty post-graduation, Florida offers several loan forgiveness programs.
The Sunshine State, like other states, offers opportunities to cancel, discharge or set up income-driven payment options for your student loans, such as
Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Program
Florida Bar Foundation Loan Repayment Assistance Program
Public Service Loan Forgiveness program
National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program (NHSC LRP)
Income-driven repayment plans
Remember: There are financial resources to help and you don’t have to suffer in silence. If you ever become overwhelmed financially, don’t let it lead to depression. Dial 2-1-1 for immediate assistance if you’re feeling suicidal or speak to a trusted health professional.
Chas Payson and Olivia Payson stand at the 2019 Pathfinder High School Scholarship Awards in May. The father and daughter each won the top prize for drama 35 years apart. [TIM STEPIEN/palmbeachpost.com]
JUPITER — Theater roots run deep in the Payson family.
Last month, Jupiter-area resident Olivia Payson won the top $4,000 scholarship in drama at the 2019 Pathfinder High School Scholarship Awards. It was the same honor her father, Chas Payson, won at the 1984 Pathfinder ceremony.
The Pathfinder Awards, organized by The Palm Beach Post, are presented each year to high school seniors in Palm Beach and Martin counties who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in 18 academic, vocational and athletic categories. The students are nominated by their schools.
“It’s been something really special for us,” said Olivia Payson, who graduated from Dreyfoos School of the Arts and plans to attend University of Oklahoma in the fall to earn a bachelor of fine arts in musical theater.
Her father, owner of Jupiter’s Echo Beach Studios, often regales her with stories of his involvement in shows, such as the Rodgers and Hammerstein hit “The King and I,” while growing up in Jupiter, Olivia Payson said. Although Chas Payson largely set aside his theater ambitions upon graduating from the Benjamin School 35 years ago, Olivia said he was a valuable critic while she rehearsed for college auditions in the family living room.
“My dad would say, ‘OK you’re a little pitchy here,’” Olivia Payson said. “It was great, he’d help me with that.”
His daughter’s win gave Chas Payson a chance to reflect on his own Pathfinder experience. His scholarship was worth about $2,500 and many students were unaware of the program, he said. When he was called into Benjamin’s library with other Pathfinder nominees, Chas Payson joked, “We all thought we were in trouble for something.”
Another difference: the talent pool among students today “is incredible,” he said. For him, theater was “kind of an excuse to goof off.” He still remembers his first role, playing a “bratty kid chased by a toy soldier” while in second grade. He can’t remember the name of the production at Stuart’s Barn Theatre, but recalled being drawn to the comedic aspect of the role.
“I did it for laughs,” he said.
Acting has been a much more serious passion for his daughter, he said. Her first role was as Rope Twirler No. 1 in a production of “Annie Get Your Gun” at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre when she was 6. He has video footage of his daughter acting at home in her early childhood, and said her love for the stage was always apparent.
She was talented, too, her father said, and that made it even easier to support her. He calls her a “triple threat” because of her ability to sing, dance and act.
“If you have a talent for something, definitely why not pursue it?” Chas Payson said. “That was our belief all along.”
While theater president during her senior year at Dreyfoos, Olivia Payson said, she took part in productions of “Amélie,” “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” and “Cry-Baby.”
Her love for theater has grown over the years and she hopes that passion will someday turn into a profession. After college, she plans to move to New York to audition for “as many shows as possible.”
“I loved being on stage and getting a chance to express myself. … As I’ve gotten older that love has matured and changed,” Olivia Payson said.
There seems to be a natural inclination toward the performing arts in her family, Olivia Payson said. Her 15-year-old sister Catherine is a dancer at Dreyfoos and one of her grandmothers loved to dance and play piano, she said.
“My mom (Suzanne Payson) always talks about how there must be something in the Payson family blood,” she said.
WEST PALM BEACH — They organized voter-registration drives, collected shoes for impoverished children, researched new ways to detect lung damage and breast cancer.
They studied contamination in Palm Beach County’s waterways and designed computer programs for predicting sea levels in the Gulf of Mexico.
And they still haven’t graduated high school.
For their outsize achievements, dozens of the region’s most outstanding high school seniors were honored Tuesday at the 2019 Pathfinder High School Scholarship Awards, a pomp-filled, bass-thumping ceremony at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts.
The 36th annual event, organized by The Palm Beach Post, recognized 54 students for outstanding achievements in 18 categories, from drama and computer science to community involvement and literature.
The first-place winners were announced with a blast of pop music and shrieks of excitement from fellow students, then presented onstage with a trophy shaped as an astrolabe, an ancient tool used to navigate ships via the position of stars in the sky.
The honorees hailed from public and private high schools across Palm Beach and Martin counties, all united by an extraordinary passion for their particular interests.
Many winners were striking for the sheer precociousness of their achievements. Take Justin Wang, a Suncoast High School senior who took home the top award for mathematics.
He competes annually in math tournaments hosted by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has worked with Florida Atlantic University researchers on a computer model to forecast sea levels.
He proposed improvements to a computer algorithm that works to detect signs of breast cancer. And he has published research in four academic journals.
“His knowledge of the applications of mathematics surpasses that of any teenager I have ever worked with,” wrote Randal Oddi, the chair of Suncoast High’s mathematics department.
All the Pathfinder winners excelled in their studies, but none were merely excellent students. Winners distinguished themselves with the variety of their achievements and passions that extended beyond the classroom.
Natalie Navarrete, a Boca Raton High senior named the top winner in the academic excellence category, maintained straight A’s throughout high school and is poised to graduate at the top of her class.
In an essay, she wrote that she hopes to apply her wide range of interests to government policy-making in order “to craft and present unique solutions to the political problems facing our nation and the world today.”
But Navarrete’s achievements were hardly limited to the classroom. At Boca Raton High, she was an award-winning member of the debate team and organized a club that registered students vote, then sent them into their communities to encourage others to vote.
Her commitment, her studiousness, her maturity and poise combine to make Navarrete “fearless and a born leader,” her teacher said.
“In a world where rendered resumes and constructed characters are commonplace, Natalie’s authenticity and humility is a gift,” Christina Hessing, a government and politics teacher at the school, wrote in a nominating letter.
For some of the evening’s winners, their passions took them beyond academics and into a world of service.
Joseph Rubsamen, a senior at Oxbridge Academy, visited Nicaragua as a boy and was shocked by the number of impoverished children and adults he saw who could not afford shoes.
Returning home, he started collecting used shoes and sneakers, and in 2014 he formed a non-profit organization, Shoes2You, to distribute them to people in need.
To date, Shoes2You has donated more than 15,000 pairs of shoes to needy people in Florida and four developing nations.
Along with his work at the nonprofit, Rubsamen organizes student volunteers to work at a local homeless shelter and has done research investigating the sources of bacterial fecal pollution in the county’s waterways.
Tuesday evening, he was awarded the top Pathfinder award for community involvement.
“Joseph is the kind of person who sincerely believes there is value when we all succeed,” wrote Teresa Thornton, an Oxbridge biology teacher, in a nominating letter.
All told, more than 500 students at nearly 50 high schools were nominated for the Pathfinder awards this year. The winners were selected by judges who reviewed nomination letters and applications and interviewed all the nominees.
Each of the 18 first-place winners receives a $4,000 scholarship, while second- and third-place winners receive scholarships worth $3,000 and $2,500, respectively.
Though there were just 18 first-place Pathfinder winners, just being among the more than 500 nominees was an honor in and of itself, Palm Beach Post Publisher Timothy Burke told the audience.
“You are officially part of a very select group of super scholars whose achievements amaze and inspire,” Burke said.
As this award category implies, Robert “Robbie” Linck excels in all academic studies areas. With a 5 weighted GPA, he’s excelled in 16 honors and advanced courses as well as in 12 honors seminar classes, the school’s highest level of instruction. He is ranked #1 in debate out of over 30,000 competitors nationwide, and has made his mark as a scientific researcher at the firm BioTools. In November he presented his research at a national conference related to the infiltration into groundwater and catalyzation of toxic algae growth in local estuaries. In April, his work was published in a peer-reviewed journal. He holds the distinction as a Cambridge Scholar after attending a two-week course of study at Cambridge University. While there he wrote a 2500-word thesis that earned him the highest score any student in that program had ever earned. His potential to make a difference in this world is promising.
Ever since he was a little boy, drawing was a big part of Daniel Amaro’s life. He earned high praises for his creativity with digital drawing and animation and received official recognition at school and by the art community. Among those accolades were placing first in his school’s Juried Art Exhibition last spring. Also in 2017 he was awarded the Fine Arts Presidential Award Gold Seal in both AP Drawing and AP Photography, the first time a student has received both awards. In 2015 Daniel placed second in the Arts Council of Martin County Juried Art Show. Daniel plans to study art in college and hopes to work for a major art company such as Disney, Pixar or DreamWorks.
Matthew Webber learned about financial responsibility as a young child when his parents gave him an allowance to manage and budget. As a freshman, he joined DECA and was so talented that he qualified that year to compete at the international level. In his sophomore year, Matt became a DECA officer at his school and was elected vice president of Florida DECA. That same year he competed in DECA’s Personal Financial Literacy at the International Career Development Conference, finishing in the top 20 in the world. During his junior & senior years, Matt served as Florida DECA’s president, spearheading donation drives which collected 58,000 items for the needy & homeless. Matt plans to major in economics and become a financial advisor.
Carlos Rivera has been passionate about writing since he was a child, publishing two books in 2011. Since then he has written and produced several video projects including a video essay series titled A Pause for Cinema on YouTube in 2015. In 2016, he wrote, directed, produced, edited and acted in a full-length feature film called The Usuals: Or (the Helpfulness of Others and How to Use it), also available on YouTube. A candidate for the demanding International Baccalaureate Diploma, he’s found time to work on a new novel while being dual enrolled in the Honors College of FAU and taking AP, AICE and IB courses. He ranks in the top 5 percent of his class. Carlos hopes to pursue a career in filmmaking with the aim of writing and directing his own creative works.
Rachel’s passion for art and her 4 years working with disabled children inspired her to create Art for Autism – a nonprofit program that teaches fundamental art skills to the special needs community. Through the success of this program, Rachel was awarded a grant to fund Martin County’s first art camp for children with autism. Rachel also has a passion for the environment – she served 3 years as president of her school’s Green Club. In 2017, she was the keynote speaker for the International Green Schools Initiative at the United Nations General Assembly Climate Week symposium. She is a Congressional Gold Medal Recipient and a National Merit Semifinalist. She will study Environmental studies and will pursue a career as an environmental activist.
Kaylee Cunningham has a passion for getting been a key player in doing just that at her school and in her community. She helped organized her school’s Engineering Academy GET event, which stands for “Girl Engineers of Tomorrow,” directed at middle school girls. Kaylee also has a passion for all things computer-related, from writing programs and building apps to securing cyber vulnerabilities. She’s competed in numerous engineering and computer competitions, placing first in Code Fever Miami’s “Launch a Start-Up in a Day Hackathon” for best start-up company idea. Her mentoring talent is credited with helping her school’s Astronaut Challenge team qualify for state finals for three consecutive years. Kaylee plans to double major in computer science, with a cyber security concentration, and nuclear physics. Her goal is to work in the nuclear industry, re-programming the antiquated software of nuclear reactors to digital format and increasing software security.
Samantha “Sammie” Estrella has excelled in all aspects of the drama program. Over the past four years she’s filled several leadership positions, including International Thespian Society Troupe president, as well as president of the Drama Club. She’s a member of the Carillon Singers advanced concert choir and earned lead and ensemble roles in nine musical and non-musical productions. She also earned superior ratings for her monologue and musical performances at multiple District 15 Thespian competitions. In addition to performing, Sammie has directed two student-written plays chosen to represent the school at district competition, for which the troupe earned a superior rating, and the award for “best technical crew.” She is vice-president of the Artists for a Cause Club, organizing drama therapeutic arts days at assisted living facilities, and the Hope for Freedom Benefit Concert to fight human trafficking.
Before Robert Berkowitz started taking Chinese at Olympic Heights, he had already studied French, German and Danish. He continued independently studying those languages online while taking Level 1 Chinese his sophomore year. By his second year, he had excelled so rapidly that he took Level 2 and Level 3 Chinese simultaneously, moving into AP Chinese as a senior. Three years in a row, Robert was chosen to participate in the Florida statewide Chinese competitions, earning top awards. He is currently president of the National Chinese Honor Society and vice-president of the Chinese Club. He spends some of his free time promoting enrollment in Chinese courses at middle school open houses and tutoring students in Chinese. Robert is considering a double major in biology and Chinese, with the goal of conducting research into cancer in China due to rapid industrialization and pollution.
Two major “firsts” are the hallmark of Alexander “Alex” Gordon’s impressive and extensive forensics accomplishments. During the 2016-2017 season, he became the first-ever Congressional Debate Ivy League triple crown winner by scoring 1st place at Harvard, Yale and Princeton tournaments. He was also the first-ever to win all three Harvard National Congress tournament awards. Other accolades include 1st place at the Florida Blue Key Speech and Debate Tournament and named champion of Congressional Debate. Over the last two debate seasons, Alex ranked as high as #1 in the nation and was named an Academic All-American by the National Speech & Debate Association. His other activities include serving as president of the Speech and Debate team for the past two years, vice president of the Student Government Association and managing editor of The Muse, his school’s newsmagazine – all while earning a 4.91 honors grade point average. He is most likely attending Harvard University to pursue a major in either political science or public policy.
One of William Speer’s teachers calls him a “history prodigy,” fluent in numerous academic worlds including government policy, speech and debate, physics, foreign policy and mathematics. She describes him as “a great student of history as well as a great student of the human experience.” He is captain of the Varsity Debate Team, founder of Park Vista’s Model UN Club, and a member of numerous academic honor societies. Last year he won the Outstanding Social Science Achievement Award and was named an AP Scholar with Distinction. William has a 3.98 GPA, a 4.9 honors grade point average and scored a perfect 800 on his SAT subject test on U.S. History. William plans to become a history professor.
Kailey Graziotto has been a storyteller since early childhood. When she and her younger brother created Lego towns, she felt compelled to write “backstories” for each “resident.” Today she has penned two one-act plays, a myriad of poems and had a short story published in her school’s literary magazine. When there was no writing club at Benjamin, she co-founded and led one. She’s president of the drama club, which performed one of her one-act plays. She has worked on numerous school productions as director, assistant director, photographer and videographer, stage manager and crew member. In 11th grade she won the Sewanee College Book award. Kailee plans to attend the Oxford College of Emory University for an A.A. degree, followed by earning a B.A. in playwriting from Emory College.
Matthew “Matt” Christie was the only student out of 117 who received an A on the AICE Math exam. He skipped the AB level of AP Calculus and went straight to BC AP Calculus his junior year. He received a level 5 on the AB sub-score and a level 5 on the BC Calculus exam. Ranked #3 out of 897 students in his school, his achievements are extensive. He’s a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist, AP Scholar with Distinction, was named Outstanding student of the year in AP Calculus BC and AP Physics his junior year, and is an Eagle Scout. He scored a perfect 800 on the Math II SAT Subject test. He’s also completed over 400 hours of community service. Matt plans to study engineering in college, applying math to the performance and efficiency of automotive mechanics.
Matthew Hakkarainen is an accomplished violinist and winner of numerous state, national and international competitions. He won Dreyfoos’s Concerto Competition, the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra Concerto Competition. He was also a finalist in the International Louis Spohr Competition for young violinists in Germany. In 2013, as a first place winner in the American Protégé International Competition, Matthew performed as a soloist at Carnegie Hall. Academically gifted as well, Matthew has been named a 2018 National Merit Semifinalist, an AP Scholar and AP Scholar with Distinction, a Kovner Opportunity Scholar and Sunshine State Scholar. He aspires to be a solo, chamber and orchestral violinist and a composer/conductor.
Veronica Washington says singing is her second language and her choral director calls her an extremely talented musician with natural musical talent. She joined Park Vista’s select chorus, “Encore,” just two years ago but she quickly began garnering accolades. She earned Superiors on both classical solo and musical theatre solo pieces for District Solo & Ensemble. She also earned superiors on classical pieces, and excellent scores on musical theatre pieces for the Florida Vocal Association’s Music Performance Assessment. She’s also earned several awards from the District 10 Thespian Festival Competitions. Veronica has performed at Carnegie Hall and participated in Walt Disney World’s Candlelight concert. Veronica plans to major in musical performance and minor in musical theatre.
Thomas Ketterle struggled academically in elementary school. He could comprehend the material but was unable to transfer it to paper. Eventually a psychologist diagnosed him with a processing disorder. Through tutoring and motivation, Tom learned how to cope with this challenge and began excelling in school. In high school, he took demanding Advanced Placement courses, earning a 4.5 honors GPA. Through will and motivation, Tom remained in the top 10% of his class all four years of high school. In addition to his studies, he was a member of the varsity football and wrestling teams, was in varsity debate for three years and served two years as vice president of the National Honor Society. Tom plans to get a Pre-Law Degree.
Caroline Nolan is devoted to using science to address local problems. When toxic algae invaded the Indian River Lagoon in 2013, she embarked on a two-year research project using mushrooms as bio-filters for treating polluted water. In another project, she developed a solar oven that could be used in Third World countries to cook, sanitize water and make glass beads for a mini-business. To encourage elementary school age girls to go into science, she created a robotic dragon that teaches electronics and coding. She has won Science awards on every level – from local to international. With a 5.98 honors GPA she will be entering college with her Associates degree. Caroline ultimately plans to go to medical school and become an anesthesiologist.
Sydney Jones was Wellington High School’s top golf player for the last two seasons as well as captain of the varsity girl’s basketball team. In her junior year, the Palm Beach Post selected her for 1st Team All County in both basketball and golf. She is also ranked number 169 in the country for basketball. Besides shining in sports, Sydney excels academically with a 4.1 honors grade point average and earned the Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education Diploma with Merit designation. She will be attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University next fall on a full basketball scholarship, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering.
Elizabeth Stroud holds the rank of “major,” the highest achievable rank in her school’s Criminal Justice Academy. Elizabeth is currently on pace to earn her Community Service Officer certification with the Delray Beach Police Department. Competing in the Law Enforcement Challenge, she placed 2nd in 2017 in sit-ups and first in 2016 in traffic stops. She is President of the local student chapter of the Florida Public Service Association. In addition to law enforcement activities, Elizabeth is a candidate for the IB World School Program and has a 4.26 honors grade point average. Elizabeth hopes to enlist with the U.S. Army and become an elite Ranger after earning her 4-year degree.