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North Fort Myers trio among those earning places in ‘Take Stock in Children’ scholarships program

April 4, 2018
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

Zachary Washburn and Lidialys and Saylena Martinez have a dream to attend college but, as with many students, may not have the financial wherewithal to do it outside of taking out student loans.

Now, they have the opportunity of a lifetime.

These three were among 35 high school freshmen and 12 middle school students to be taken into the Take Stock in Children Scholarship Program, a program that helps those who might not have the financial resources to fund a college education otherwise to earn their dream.

The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools hosted a luncheon recently at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre to celebrate the induction of these students, who also heard from mentors and other past scholarship winners.

Take Stock in Children is a statewide scholarship program that provides an opportunity for students from low-income homes through education and mentorship for a great chance at a great future.

When accepted into the program, students sign a contract to maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA, stay crime- and drug-free, and meet with their mentor regularly. When they graduate from high school, having kept this commitment, they receive a four-year college tuition scholarship.

Lidialys said she learned in school she was eligible for the scholarship and applied for the program. She couldn't believe she had won.

"I didn't think I would get it. I was happy to get the opportunity to have my tuition paid," said Lidialys, who is a music major at North and plays in the marching band as a clarinet and baritone saxophone.

She said although she loves music, she will likely use it as a side gig.

"In college I still want to study music, but I want to study criminal justice. I was thinking of being a lawyer or detective or something in forensics," Lidialys said.

Washburn said it was a great opportunity and didn't think he was going to get it and it was "amazing" he earned it.

"Education means a lot in my family and we talk about it. It has a deeper meaning because my mom and those close to me didn't finish college, and I want to take it to the next level," Washburn said.

Washburn has considered numerous occupations in the STEM field, especially computers since he loves playing video games, as it is an outlet to his creativity.

"I've been thinking about doing that since I was young. I always said I wanted to make games. Once I grew up a little I thought 'Man, this is hard,"' Washburn said. "It's a great business and you can make a lot of money at it."

Saylena Martinez was not available for comment.



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