Florida’s Highest Achieving STEAM Students Honored

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From the Florida Department of Education:

Florida’s Highest Achieving STEAM Students Honored at Conference

At the annual Sunshine State Scholars conference in Orlando in June, 15 of Florida’s highest achieving STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) students were awarded 1-year scholarships to attend one of Florida’s nationally top ranked colleges or universities. Miriam Girgis, a student at Spruce Creek High School, was awarded the scholarship. The scholarships were made possible through generous funding provided by AT&T and the Florida Prepaid College Foundation, who each committed $50,000. 

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said, “I am incredibly grateful to AT&T and the Florida Prepaid College Foundation for their generous contribution toward our highest achieving students. Their investment in our student’s postsecondary aspirations confirms Florida is on the right path to fill the workforce needs of our growing economy. With Florida higher education ranked #1 in the nation for the fifth year in a row, our students are in a great position to take advantage of the many high quality academic and career opportunities right here in Florida, the Education State.”

“Since 2013, AT&T has supported the Sunshine State Scholars program. We are proud of these students and their accomplishments,” said Joe York, President AT&T Florida and the Caribbean. “These students will help shape the future of our communities and our state. We are happy to have a part in their present and future success.”

“It is such a pleasure to give the gift of college to these students who have shown so much commitment to their studies and to excelling in the high-demand fields of STEAM,” said Florida Prepaid College Foundation Director Cindy O’Connell. “We look forward to seeing the future impact these students will have on their communities and our state through their talent and postsecondary experiences.”

During the 2021 Sunshine State Scholars Conference, Commissioner Corcoran recognized 103 of Florida’s highest-achieving 11th grade STEAM students, connecting them with employers from around the state that specialize in the STEAM fields, and creating networking opportunities among the scholars, employers and Florida’s renowned state colleges and universities. With a focus on Florida’s workforce needs, the conference highlights the wide variety of high-demand, high-wage STEAM jobs available both today and in the future. 

Volusia’s two Sunshine State Scholars this year are Girgis and Ria Gupta of Seabreeze High. Wendy Zhang of DeLand High was selected as alternate. The district honorees, along with their parents and a teacher who has served as a significant influence for the scholars, will attend a two-day program in Orlando in June. The Sunshine State Scholars will be recognized for their academic achievements and will have the opportunity to connect with employers that specialize in STEM fields and to meet with representatives from schools in Florida’s College and State University System. One of the program’s goals is to increase the number of students with outstanding STEM credentials who choose to attend Florida colleges and universities.


“Florida is home to many talented students, but none shine brighter than the Sunshine State Scholars,” said Marshall M. Criser, III, Chancellor of the State University System of Florida. “We are very proud of these students and the enormous potential they have for their futures and the State of Florida. Congratulations!”

During the Sunshine State Scholars conference, students participated in problem solving activities, interacted with higher education representatives during a recruitment fair and attended presentations by industry and research experts. The event concludes with an awards dinner where each scholar was recognized individually for the potential they bring to our state and local communities.

Below are the recipients of the 2021 Sunshine State Scholars Scholarship. These outstanding students were selected based on their future career goals and their intention to pursue higher education in Florida. These students, along with all of the Sunshine State Scholars, are sure to become incredible assets to the state of Florida.

Jeffrey Xue, Alachua County
Hayley Reisen, Calhoun County
Karl Reiter, Collier County
Darell Williams, FAMU Lab School
Paul Grau Jr., Flagler County
Jacob Sueppel, Highlands County
Halie Wetherington, Madison County
Sarah McGinley, Marion County
Jasming Senel, Miami Dade County
Cassidy Camera, Orange County
Sydney Showalter, Palm Beach County
Anderson Garner, Polk County
Lorika Chery, St. Lucie County
Dimitri Williams II, Taylor County
Miriam Girgis, Volusia County

The 2021 Sunshine State Scholars conference was made possible through the support of the Florida Education Foundation, leading sponsors AT&T and the Florida Prepaid College Foundation, Lockheed Martin, Helios Education Foundation, Kyra Solutions, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Florida Lottery and the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Independent Education & Parental Choice. State University System institutions include Florida A&M University, Florida Atlantic University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida International University, Florida State University, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, University of North Florida, University of South Florida, University of West Florida, Florida Polytechnic University and New College of Florida.

For a list of scholars and more information about the event, visit https://www.floridaeducationfoundation.org/events/sunshine-state-scholars.