Maliyah White, 18, of Dreyfoos School of the Arts,
Florida ranked no. 7
Chas Payson and Olivia Payson stand at the 2019
Maliyah White, 18, of Dreyfoos School of the Arts, is recorded for a Pathfinders video March 4. [LANNIS WATERS/palmbeachpost.com]
More than 500 of the region’s standout high school seniors wrapped all of their academic, artistic, athletic and civic accomplishments into packets just months ago and asked to be counted among the Class of 2020′s elite — to be named a Pathfinder.
Then, just weeks after being grilled by judges in their respective fields, a pandemic swept the globe, pitching their proms, canceling their celebrations and forcing their graduations to be recast for video viewing.
The 37th annual Pathfinder Scholarship Awards ceremony had to switch gears as well.
Since their inception, the awards sponsored by The Palm Beach Post have celebrated soon-to-be graduates from Palm Beach and Martin counties, handing out more than $3.2 million in scholarships to more than 2,450 students.
This year, 54 students earned first, second and third prizes in 18 categories, laying claim to $171,000 in scholarships.
While there was no red-carpet or Kravis Center stage moment, the Pathfinders recognized Wednesday during an online broadcast have proved they can power through the difficult and make hay of most obstacles.
They’ve got this.
Olympic Heights student Francois Khouri survived a childhood punctuated by missile strikes in Syria, fueling a curiosity about political science. His pursuit landed him internships with both the Florida Democratic Party and two local Republican congressional campaigns. Winner in the category of History and Political Science, Khouri is sharing his passion with thousands of YouTube viewers a month through his Political Discourse for Dummies channel.
Repeated family visits to India exposed Science winner Rohan Jakhete to the scourge of poverty and water insecurity. As a student at South Fork High, he developed tools — one patent pending — to purify the polluted and manage the meager. He’s the founder and CEO of two start-ups.
The intersection of invention and water also paid off for Sophia Lloyd George. The Oxbridge Academy student’s work to translate data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and her use of crowdsourcing to map algae caught attention in the Computer Science category.
But her resume, too, is girded by success over adversity. Inspired by an older brother with autism, Lloyd George convinced doubting adults to let her teach computer science to children with the disorder. Her nonprofit, Code Autism, was further propelled by a $14,000 grant.
Park Vista High’s Noah Cabarcas was just looking for fun when he turned learning a new language into a sport with young friends: Who can master another tongue in the shortest amount of time?
But as others lost interest, Cabarcas found new purpose, seeking to better connect with his best friend, a transplant from Brazil.
Tapping YouTube, Duolingo and the international pop music scene, Cabarcas cracked Portuguese well enough to chat with his friend’s family in eight months. He went on to master Italian — that’s what you do when family arrives from Italy for the summer. And French — it began with a class and then took off when a student from the country arrived on campus. The Pathfinder in Foreign Language also speaks Spanish and is chipping away at Japanese and Russian.
“It’s heartening and inspiring to know that our Pathfinders have the qualities that will enable our country not only to emerge from today’s unprecedented crisis, but be better prepared to face similar challenges in the future,″ Palm Beach Post Executive Editor Nick Moschella said. “They are leaders and scholars, driven to succeed and serve their communities with compassion and vision.″
The credentials amassed by this year’s Pathfinders would be the envy of most adults.
In addition to building academic transcripts that rarely, if ever, see anything below a B, they are the editors of their school newspapers and yearbooks; they lead debate clubs, language clubs and clubs for computer coding. Dreyfoos School of the Arts student Elizabeth Sinn has placed second in the Steinway Junior Piano Competition for two years running. Her classmate, Jacqueline Kaskel was a semifinalist in the New York Lyric Opera Theatre Competitions. Jensen Beach High student Sandra Edwards played in the women’s under-19 lacrosse world championships (as a recruit and leader for a nascent Team China, thanks to a grandfather’s bloodline).
Even their spare time is superlative-worthy. Among them, they hold black belts in taekwondo, teach chess, play performance level harp.
And they aspire to do so much more.
At Glades Central, Fabio Louis will be the first in his family to graduate high school and is poised to have his associate’s degree in hand by December. The grandson of Haitians who raised cattle and banana trees and the winner in the Vocational Education category, Louis has set his sights on the science of agriculture. He wants to help solve world hunger.
Subhash is Academic Excellence. Earning A’s in all his classes at Suncoast while taking 20 AP classes and a staggering 13 dual enrollment courses at Palm Beach State College, Subhash is ranked #1 in his class. He earned a perfect score on the ACT and a 1570 on the SAT. He received perfect scores on all AP Physics C exams – an unprecedented achievement – and is a National Merit Semifinalist. He won first place in the Palm Beach County Science Fair for his project on characterizing stars. Subhash will study science at MIT, and eventually earn a Ph.D. in physics. His desire is to specialize in the field of nuclear astrophysics and study nuclear fusion processes in stars.
Antonio’s influences in architecture include Le Corbusier and his designs combine aesthetic grace and daring propelled by sustainability principles. Already an accomplished musician and experienced tutor/teacher, he is an individual of remarkable talent and civic engagement. Antonio will attend Cooper Union in Manhattan, study Arts in Architecture, and open his own design and architecture studio.
Carlos is an inquisitive and diligent student whose greatest strengths are perseverance and his ability to remain focused. He also has a heart for serving people. One of his ventures, called Supplies X Change, provides school supplies to students in third world countries. He co-founded Next Level Mentorship. Its main purpose is to mentor middle school students with the skills and knowledge that are necessary to succeed in life. Carlos will attend Babson College and ultimately work in his family’s business.
Brianna flawlessly jumped into Journalism her freshman year. She earned the title of Editor in Chief for Inlet Grove’s Newspaper, Grove Watch. In her subsequent years, she became the most prolific writer, editor, photographer and videographer in the history of Inlet Grove. She is Senior Class President, President of the yearbook, Basketball and Football team manager and holds a part-time job. As her instructor writes: “ her record is exhaustive, her possibilities endless” Brianna plans to major in Multimedia Journalism and Criminal Justice.
Adryena is compelled to help others. Her compassion for others is the driving force behind Little Angels Tutoring program. She created this program to provide free tutoring service to ESOL students in the areas of reading and math. The Palm Beach County Philanthropy Tank awarded a $12,000 prize to Adryena. She will use these funds to purchase iPads for the students to build their knowledge of technology. Adryena hopes to pursue a major in political science with the goal of attending law school.
Sophia is an outstanding students whose hard work knows no bounds. She enrolled in an incredibly demanding course of study in which she consistently averaged A+ on all her honors assessments. She ranked #3 in her class and scored a 35 on the ACT. Inspired to help her autistic older brother, Sophia runs her own non-profit titled:"Code Autism" where she teaches local autistic children computer science skills. The Palm Beach County Philanthropy Tank awarded her $14,000 to fund this program. Sophia intends to pursue a double Major in Computer Science and Science, Technology and Society.
Hayden is a gifted actor who excels on stage and in the classroom. On stage, in 2019, Hayden earned superior ratings for monologues, duet scene and duet musical at the Thespian Competition. He played leading and supporting roles in Saint Andrew’s theater productions all four years of high school. He is also captain of the varsity wrestling team and is ranked 10th in the state for his weight class. He plans to attend Northwestern University and study Theatre.
Noah has a sincere love of language and sees languages as a bridge between two cultures. He learned multiple languages, some independently, including Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French and a little Japanese. He’s earned his AICE Diploma with Merit and the AP Scholar Award. He is President of the French and Spanish Honor Societies and a star varsity volleyball player. Noah plans to get a bachelor degree in Political Science with a minor in French and Spanish.
Kevin earned numerous awards, from the local and national level for his outstanding forensic performances. His most noteworthy forensics accomplishment to date was becoming “National Champion in Duo Interpretation” at the 2019 National Speech and Debate Associations National Tournament. Kevin is president of the Speech and Debate team at Dreyfoos School of the Arts. He is editor of the yearbook and Senior Class Vice President. Most importantly, he is a leader, a mentor and an advocate. He plans to pursue a career in political communication and advocacy.
Francois spent much of his childhood in Syria, amongst missile strikes and unrest. As a young boy he was always questioning the cause of the constant disasters and the answer was always Politics. After immigrating to America his passion grew for Political Science, particularly Comparative Middle Eastern Politics. He created an online political platform – Political Discourse for Dummies.Com, which accrues several thousand views monthly. During most of his high school career, Francois has held an intern position with the Florida Democratic Party. He plans to major in Political Science and Accounting
Ralph’s love for reading started in the library where he explored new worlds and discovered historical facts. Ralph is the founder and president of Boca Raton High School’s Ted-Ed club and he is a leader in both the English and Spanish honor societies. He is an active member of Propel, a non-profit that helps at-risk, low-income teens. It is his goal to teach them the importance of reading. Ralph is ranked in the top 3% of his class and plans to acquire a double major in Neuroscience and Philosophy..
Jason is a National Merit Semifinalist and a National AP Scholar. He scored a 1590 on his SAT and is in the top 2% of his class. As a top scorer on the A.I.C.E Math Exam his freshman year, Jason was able to skip AB Calculus and go into BC Calculus where he scored the top level of 5. He is a leader in Boca High’s award winning Science Olympiad team and a member of the National Honor Society. Jason plans to major in Electrical Engineering and minor in mathematics.
Elizabeth is a gifted jazz and classical piano performance student. She was first alternate selected for Jazz Band of America and she won 2nd place in the Steinway Junior Piano Competition two years in a row. Elizabeth was on the Honor Roll for Straight A’s all through high school. She will attend the Berklee College of Music to pursue a degree in Jazz Piano Performance followed by a master’s degree and possible doctorate in music. She hopes to teach and mentor other musicians.
Jacqueline is ranked in the top two percent of her class and has earned the AP Scholar with Distinction Award. As an aspiring opera singer, her voice teachers say she possesses an exceptionally beautiful voice of strength and refined musical expression. She has won a multitude of vocal awards. Most recently, Jackie was named National Semi-Finalist at the New York Lyric Opera Theatre Competition. She plans to study music with a concentration in vocal performance at Yale University.
Jacqueline overcame her learning disability by reading novels and newspaper articles related to medicine and science. She met with specialists during her early school years and trained for hours on reading comprehension and pronunciation. Reading books on a topic she loved led her to a quicker understanding. She is a member of the National Honor Society, National Science & Math Honor Societies, is dual enrolled at Palm Beach State College and has a part time job. She plans to pursue medicine as a doctor and focus on helping people lead healthier lives.
Rohan is an Academic Powerhouse, according to his teachers. Ranked first in his class, He excels in all the most difficult classes offered at South Fork and then some. He is the founder and CEO of two startup companies, is Founder and President of South Fork’s coding club and a Coca Cola Scholars Semifinalist. What impresses his teachers the most is his desire to teach other students to love STEM as much as he does. He plans to major in mechanical engineering at CalTech and then earn a master’s degree in chemical engineering at MIT. He wants to change the world by developing solutions to water poverty.
Sandra fought hard through a broken ankle to excel at club lacrosse. A highlight of her lacrosse career was playing in the U19 Women’s Lacrosse World Championships in Canada. Her tenacity and Academic Achievements earned her an invitation to attend Central Michigan University as a Division 1 Lacrosse player. She is Student Government President and holds leadership positions in Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Young Life. Her career plans include attending law school to pursue a career as a criminal lawyer and return to Martin County to practice law..
Fabio is in the top 10 percent of his senior class. He is a member of the National Honor Society, is a Borlaug Scholar (a part of the National Association of plant breeders), and a leader in Future Farmers of America with a passion for agriculture. He is bilingual in Haitian Creole and English and will be the first person in his family to graduate high school and attend college. Fabio will major in Horticultural Science to learn and explore new ways to bring food security to impoverished communities.
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.
Natalie Navarrete is ranked first in her graduating class and is a National Merit Semifinalist. She has an honors point average of 5.7. She's the only student at her school to have earned the prestigious AICE International Diploma with Distinction her freshman year. During her high school career, Natalie was named the Most Outstanding Student in AICE Spanish, AP English Language, AP Spanish Literature and AP Physics. This year she's captain of the Congress Team in Congressional Debate. Natalie founded "Improving Voter Opportunities Through Education," or IVOTE. The goal: educating first-time voters by simplifying the complex language of legislation, amendments and ballot initiatives. One project, encouraging classmates to register to vote and to exercise their right to vote, resulted in the highest student involvement of all participating institutions nation-wide. Natalie plans to pursue a career in politics.
Khanh Truong, who goes by "Keith," is a student with extraordinary talent for the visual arts. Great artists throughout time are known for their innovative ideas and exploration into new media. Keith does just that in his work. He creates powerful narratives but also experiments with various media in new ways. His artwork conveys his commitment to the creative process, exhibiting images that are dynamic, engaging, and deeply personal. Because of this and his focused drive and career path, Keith was our winner for this year's awards!
Jordana Schube has applied her marketing talents both in and out of school. She's taken rigorous courses in the Marketing Academy, two of them college level classes. She has a 4.69 honors point average. In DECA, the student marketing association, she serves on the executive board. She placed in district and state DECA competitions and was an international qualifier. Jordana initiated a student-run organization to unify students against gun violence, growing it from one chapter to 40 in 13 states. Among her many outside activities, Jordana works with a real estate company. Her jobs include designing Royal Palm Beach Living magazine's monthly cover and postcard. She maintains their website and social media platforms. She's also a consultant for an e-commerce company, developing their logo and website. Jordana's goal is to start a marketing consulting firm specializing in small business growth.
Film is Valerie Betts' passion. She's dedicated her middle and high school careers to becoming fluent in the world of video production. In 2015 she founded Valography Productions. Valography provides photography and video sevices for business, sporting events and weddings. She holds a leadership position in the Communication Arts Honor Society and is president of her school's Film Association Club. She's the multimedia editor for Dreyfoos' newsmagazine, The Muse. Valerie is credited with growing The Muse's YouTube channel from 400 to 3,000 subscribers in just one year. Valerie has produced eight short films and nine news packages. She directed her school's live on-stage Communication Arts Showcase two years in a row. Her 2018 film, Table 9, shown at the school's annual film festival, is under consideration at several local and national film festivals. Valerie intends to major in Communications and Film.
When Joseph sees a problem, he ambitiously finds a solution. After a family trip to Nicaragua where he saw a great need for shoes for needy children and adults, Joseph Rubsamen found Shoes2You. Shoes2You is a non-profit organization that's provided nearly 15,000 pairs of shoes to needy kids and adults in both the U.S. and abroad. In Nicaragua he realized that not having shoes increased the chances for cuts and scrapes on the feet, leading to infection. Shoes collected have been distributed in Kenya, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Haiti and Palm Beach County. The top student in his class, Joseph's curiosity on why he couldn't swim in the ocean due to contaminated water led him to identify the unknown source of bacterial pollution in Palm Beach County. He's presented his award-winning research at numerous water conferences. Joseph plans to attend Cornell University, majoring in biological global health, while continuing to run Shoes2You.
Karen Copeland sees computer science as the future. She became even more convinced after conducting research at the University of Florida last summer in its Student Summer Training Program. Creatively employing her computer science knowledge, Karen wrote code related to analyzing lung vessel damage in cancer patients who receive radiation to the lung. Marveling at the detail and documentation in her paper, her professor said he'd never seen its equal, even among graduate level students in his lab. The year before, Karen performed research at the Max Planck Institute that produced analytic and diagnostic power, also never seen, in image analysis. Her awards have included first place in the Palm Beach Regional Science and Engineering Fair for 2017/2018 and Intel's Excellence in Computer Science Award in 2017. Karen wants to become a software designer at a research institution.
It was her role at age 6 as Rope Twirler #1 in "Annie Get Your Gun" that Olivia Payson knew theatre would be her life's work. To prepare, she's had 14 years of dance training and eight years of vocal and acting training. She boasts more than 15 productions and showcases for which she performed, worked on camera or was part of creative teams as a director/choreographer. During her junior year, Olivia was a key performer in a peer's choreography piece, "Money," from Cabaret. It won the coveted Critic's Choice at the ITS State Festival. As president of her school's International Thespian Society, Olivia implemented Lunch Time Cabarets. These venues give students a place to be the lead, performing any piece of their choosing. Olivia plans to move to New York after college to pursue her art.
Chloe Curreri is fluent in four languages: English. Spanish. Catalan. And French. She's also proficient in Ilonggo, a language spoken in the Philippines. In the past three years Chloe has competed in the Palm Beach County World Language Fair. She won "superior" ratings there for Spanish impromptu speech and French reading comprehension. Her junior year she won "Sobresaliente," the highest achievement, and Excellent, at the Florida State Spanish Conference. She is president of the French Honor Society and co-president of the Spanish Honor Society and Model United Nations. In those roles Chloe helps plan cultural events and celebrations to encourage students to learn about other cultures. Chloe tutors Spanish for fellow Boca High students and volunteers at a local French elementary school. She’s earned Gold Biliteracy Seals for both Spanish and French, and the AICE Diploma with merit.
Emily Williams is ranked 13th in the State of Florida in Program and Oral Interpretations. She's been a quarter-finalist, semi-finalist and finalist in nearly a dozen national forensics tournaments. She is president of the Speech and Debate Team and Historian for the National Honor Society and the International Club. As Speech and Debate Team president, she has run tournaments, fundraisers and performance showcases. Passionate about ending violence against women and changing the culture that perpetuates it, Emily has become engrossed in political advocacy. Her activities have included attending protests, speaking at marches, hosting voter education assemblies and interning on a congressional campaign. Emily has maintained a 6.06 weighted GPA while taking numerous AP, Honors and College level courses. She plans to be a political science major in order to continue asking the hard questions and discovering the harder answers.
John McCabe developed a passion for history after competing in Social Studies Academic Games in 5th grade. Since then he's channeled his love of history into a variety of outlets. He's qualified for 7 state and 7 national Academic Games tournaments, winning first place individually at the national tournament four times. He's one of only 128 players in the 55-year history of the program inducted into its National Hall of Fame. In 2018 John was the highest-scoring player in the county on the social studies questions at the Commissioner's Academic Challenge. John, an Eagle Scout, founded an Academic Games Summer camp to teach kids how to play Academic Games. He's also authored a 371-page book, Guide to the American Presidents, detailing the presidents' personal lives and significant events during each administration. John hopes to enter government service after college.
Jakub Pawlowski's native language is Polish, yet he's been able to master not only reading and understanding English but writing it well enough to be published. His first poem was published when he was eight. By eighth grade he began entering writing competitions and was published as a freshman in the Palm Beach County Poetry Competition. One year, Jakub won the Austin International Poetry Festival and was published in the festival's anthology collection. Jakub is an AP Scholar, with a 4.9 cumulative weighted GPA, and candidate for the International Baccalaureate Diploma. He is co-founder of the English Honor Society at Suncoast. As a Reading Buddy volunteer at his local library, Jakub helps younger students with reading, pronunciation, vocabulary and fluency. He plans to major in English or Comparative Literature, earn a Ph.D. and become an educator.
Justin Wang is enrolled in the Computer Science Magnet and International Baccalaureate programs at Suncoast. He's dual-enrolled in Statistics, Calculus 3 and Differential Equations. Justin has won numerous awards, including 2018 Math Mentor of the Year and AP Scholar with Distinction in 2017 and 2018. He's won over 15 regional, state and national awards in calculus and was in the top 2.5% nation-wide in the 2018 American Mathematics Competition. Justin interned last summer as a researcher at FAU in computer science and electrical engineering. He currently interns as a software engineer for South Florida Engineering Consulting. Justin has co-authored four studies published in peer-reviewed journals, two as lead researcher. He's a volunteer coach for Suncoast's competitive Algebra II team, dubbed the "Wang Gang." Justin's goal is to build a start-up company that leads to the next technology wave.
Giancarlo Llerena, an accomplished pianist, has earned more than two dozen prestigious music awards since 2012. In 2019 he was the National Young Arts Foundation winner in Classical Music. The year before, he won first place in six competitions, among them the Steinway & Sons Junior Piano Competition and the Pompano Beach Piano Competition. Among 21 notable performance venues were the Tanglewood Theater in Boston, the Aspen Music Festival and three Florida Steinway Halls in 2018. He's currently enrolled in Ensemble IV, Klavier, his school's most advanced piano class, and is the pianist for the school's philharmonic orchestra. For the past two years, Giancarlo has served as co-vice president for his school's piano department. Giancarlo handles all those roles, and more, while maintaining a 4.46 honors point average. He plans to study piano performance and become a concert pianist.
As the daughter of Colombian immigrants, Laura Santamaria-Mendez was bullied as a child for being different. To combat loneliness, she escaped into books where she gained a passion for poetry. Poetry, she would learn, plays a huge role in opera, which soon became her passion. Laura was chosen in 2016 to join the Palm Beach Opera Studio, a selective high school training program. That allowed her to attend operas, take lessons and masterclasses, and watch rehearsals. She knew then she wanted to be an opera singer. So far, she's performed at 7 prestigious venues, including a solo performance at the 2018 Palm Beach Opera Guild Gala in Palm Beach. Last year Laura earned a Superior with Distinction award from the Florida Vocal Institute Competition. She hopes to become an opera soloist.
From her earliest days in school, Cassandra Michel had trouble learning. She described herself as being "completely lost" in first grade. Later that year she was diagnosed with a visual integration learning disability. She began taking advantage of extra time to complete her work and tests. With grit, determination and willingness to seek help from teachers and classmates, Cassandra soon excelled academically. Last year she took, concurrently, not one but two super-challenging AICE classes. One in sociology. The other in psychology. She was the top AICE sociology student that year. Cassandra has a 4.6 honors point average and is an AP Scholar with Honors. She's president of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America and captain of the varsity track and field team. Cassandra aspires to earn a master's degree in neuroscience and a Ph.D. in psychology.
Last summer, John-Mark Phillips was one of only 10 students in Palm Beach County chosen to be a high school researcher at Scripps Research. His mentor deemed him the top student he's ever worked with. He cited John-Mark's "unparalleled" ability to grasp advanced concepts in the chemical and biological sciences. John-Mark has taken 6 highly-challenging AICE courses and is on track to earn both his high school diploma and AA degree this year. His numerous accomplishments include winning, placing or receiving a special award in 9 regional and state science fairs and earning several academic awards and scholarships. For the past 3 years, John-Mark represented Palm Beach County at the Florida Science and Engineering Fair. John-Mark plans to become a research scientist. He's especially interested in being involved in the exploration and colonization of Mars, with a particular focus on how biotechnology will play a role.
Since 10th grade Audrey Ramsey has been the starting point guard on her school's varsity basketball team. As a 10th grader, she hit the winning shot at the buzzer to win Boca Raton High's first-ever Girls Basketball state championship. That play was recognized as play of the year by PBC Hoops, and she was named state championship player. Audrey has participated since 2017 as a starting point guard with travel basketball team Boca Thunder. Prestigious recognitions include being named Palm Beach County Hoops Player of the Week and ESPN Range Rover Player of the Week. Off the court, Audrey has earned A's in all AP and AICE classes and has a 5.38 honors point average. Audrey has been signed by the University of Tampa for women's basketball where she plans to play ball while earning a degree in cybersecurity.
Luke Han was born with a serious hearing loss that wasn't detected until he was 5. By then he had developed a speech impediment. Disliking hearing aids, Luke managed school by sitting close to the speaker and reading lips. He credits his disability with helping him learn to think independently and to mentally prepare for scenarios where one needs to remain calm. This brought occupational health, safety and preparedness to his attention. Through Resolve Maritime Academy, Luke received a foundation in firefighting, first aid and medical training while being active in school activities and maintaining a 4.8 honors point average. He's currently president of the Environmental Club, secretary of UNICEF and plays varsity soccer. Luke plans to attend a university with a strong industrial engineering program. Upon graduation he hopes to work with a firefighting agency to help prevent and fight modern fires.
By Adriana Delgado
In 2000, Dreyfoos School of the Arts senior and Palm Beach Gardens resident Gina Marie Guadagnino was one of a selected group of students bestowed with the coveted Pathfinders Award, the annual high school scholarship awards for Palm Beach and Martin County students, sponsored by The Palm Beach Post.
Guadagnino, then 18, won the award in the Literature category, and in an interview she gave to The Post at the time, she expressed that “she had never stopped writing from the moment she could.”
Flash forward to 2019. Guadagnino, now in her 30’s, lives in New York City, the mecca of the publishing industry and works in the office of the president at NYU. In addition, her debut novel, “The Parting Glass,” has just been published by Simon and Schuster.
As any author knows, it’s a long road to publishing, but Guadagnino had her mind set on becoming a professional writer from the time she was in middle school in Palm Beach County.
“During my first year at Dreyfoos, they announced that they had several Pathfinder nominees, and I had no idea what that was,” Guadagnino said. “But the minute I started asking and delving into it, I thought ‘I want the Pathfinder Award in Literature when I’m a senior,’ and that was something I actively worked towards.
“I was interested in creative writing, even though I was in the theater department, so I had to take a lot of crossover classes in communication, poetry and short stories and then in my own department I did playwriting. When they discontinued playwriting classes, I took an independent study with Keith Young, who was a teacher there, and he sort of held a private playwriting class for me. He was truly an inspirational person.”
Guadagnino also explains that while at Dreyfoos, she worked tirelessly with her English teachers, who were mostly the nominating group for the Pathfinders in Literature award.
“I told every teacher I had that this was something I was looking forward to doing,” Guadagnino said. “From 9th grade on, I would go to my teachers with short stories, poems, anything I was writing and asked if they had time to give me feedback.”
When asked if she considered the Pathfinders as a head start to her writing career, Guadagnino said that winning the award gave her confidence in her abilities as a writer, and made her want to persevere.
“Having that recognition at such an early and critical time in my life, made a huge difference, because the pathway to publishing a novel is not easy,” Guadagnino explained. “It’s absolutely fraught with rejection. A statistic I love to tell people is that I sent out 181 query letters to agents, and I only got one offer of representation.”
She went on to say that the incredibly supportive atmosphere at Dreyfoos made her believe she could be a writer. “There is something worthwhile in continuing to pursue your dreams and be tenacious,” Guadagnino said.
She was a “fairly eclectic reader” in high school, with a fondness for Mark Twain and Shakespeare. Guadagnino also delved into Margaret Atwood, Jane Austen and ultimately Tolkien when she started reading fantasy.
Guadagnino says that authors who have influenced her as writers range from Lyndsay Faye to Jo Baker, because she truly admires what these authors are doing with women and other marginalized characters in historical fiction.
She also mentions the Welsh novelist Sarah Waters as an important influence, which can be seen in her novel, “The Parting Glass,” an upstairs-downstairs story about Mary Ballard (who hides her real name, Maire O’Farren), a lady’s maid to high society debutante Charlotte Walden.
The relationship that develops between the two characters and the double lives that they indulge in, are evocative of Waters’s notable work, “Fingersmith.” The book has been getting good reviews, with Guadagnino being praised for both her historical research and her approach to exploring Maire’s sexuality and love affair with a prostitute.
Like Waters, the Victorian era is something that Guadagnino was keen to explore, but instead of 1800s Britain, she wanted to write a story set in New York, specifically in Washington Square.
“I had recently finished my MFA, and I was thinking about the people who would have lived in Washington Square originally,” Guadagnino explains. “The north side has these beautiful old federal brick townhouses, and my original thought was to do a kind of examination about the people who would live in one such house.”
She freely admits that the PBS series “Downton Abbey” had recently begun, and she started to think that it would be interesting to do a similar concept in a New York townhome, in a period like the 1830’s when there was so much diversity in the serving classes.
“My own ancestors came from Ireland in the 1850s, in the post-famine diaspora,” Guadagnino said. “Right away the idea of Maire came to me as someone who is pretending to be something she isn’t. I wanted to see how far I could take that concept, how many subsumed and nested identities I could explore.”
Guadagnino remembers being fascinated by her research into the relationships between a lady’s maid and the women they served, and how struck she was by the way the women were required to repress their own identities for their mistresses and extinguish their own desires and aspirations.
“I started to think what that would be like for someone who wasn’t just doing it as a job, but also who was completely obsessed with the person she’s serving.”
One of the novel’s main topics deals with the Irish immigrants that arrived in New York City in the middle of the 19th century. Guadagnino says that even though she started writing “The Parting Glass” during the Obama administration, she never could have envisioned the frequently hostile attitudes towards immigration.
“The rhetoric around it is so violent that I see direct echoes in my research with the way the Irish were treated,” Guadagnino said. “I think it’s important we remember that everyone who lives in this country is because of immigration, either voluntary or forced. The idea that people who are trying to seek amnesty are somehow criminals, is a deep, deep betrayal of our cultural roots.”
With her novel published, she is now embarking on a book tour, which includes a book signing event at Palm Beach Bookstore on April 27. And Guadagnino is hard at work on her next book, which she refers to as “a reverse Gothic novel.”
“The characters are set by all these fantastic events,” she says. “It’s like a Scooby Doo episode, but instead of pulling off the mask and finding a perfectly rational explanation for everything, I’m trying to write the reverse, where the characters are so reasonable and level headed that they can’t possibly fathom that everything around them is so much more wilder and crazier than they could possibly imagine.”
IF YOU GO
What: Gina Marie Guadagnino Q&A and book signing
When 7 p.m. Saturday, April 27
Where: Palm Beach Bookstore, 215 Royal Poinciana Way, Palm Beach.
• eiball13Pathfinders scholarship night! #postpathfinder
• pedro__fI am so thankful I came this far to winning the Pathfinder Scholarship. Unfortunately I didn’t win, but coming this far and being able to represent my school, Olympic Heights, has been an honor and I thank everyone for the love and support!!
This was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had and a great memory I’ll always remember.
Congrats to @brookerebeccahall for placing 3rd in receiving the Drama scholarship!! So proud of you!! ❤
• mackenziegravesWINNERS AT HEART (thanks to the academy for this nomination ?) #pathfinderawards
• knadiascott#proudmama #postpathfinders#collegebound #broadwaybound@theronster._
pbpostThe Pathfinder Scholarship Awards 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. Tonight, the winning students were honored at the Kravis Center with a college scholarship between $2,500 and $4,000.
(?:@mindofcarlita/ The Palm Beach Post)