Lindsey Pinkard is among Florida’s highest achieving science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students from the Panhandle, who joined their peers from around the state Thursday and Friday in Orlando to be honored during the newly revamped Sunshine State Scholars program. The two-day awards and recruitment event celebrates the accomplishments of these elite students and provides a unique opportunity for Florida’s universities and colleges to recruit their talents.
The Scholars event started as a simple science and math competition in 1997 and has evolved into a program designed to recognize Florida’s top high school STEM students and recruit them to pursue their post secondary education in Florida – increasing the likelihood that they will join Florida’s future workforce. Each school district selects and names one 11th grade scholar based on established criteria.
The program began on Thursday evening with a welcome reception keynoted by Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith and Stacy Carlson of the Helios Education Foundation. The event continues on Friday with a breakfast headlined by Dr. Will Holcombe, Chancellor of the Florida College System, and Frank Brogan, Chancellor of the State University System. The recruitment fair will follow where students can talk directly with higher education officials from more than 25 Florida public colleges and universities to explore the opportunities that could await them in a Florida postsecondary institution. The event will conclude with an awards luncheon where scholars will be treated to a speech by Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative, after which students can enjoy their free passes to Universal Orlando Resort.
The Sunshine State Scholars program is a collaborative effort between the Florida Education Foundation, the Division of Florida Colleges, the State University System and the Florida Department of Education. Event sponsors of this year’s program include the Helios Education Foundation, Universal Orlando Resort, Gulf Power, Florida Trend Magazine, and the Florida Lottery.