Funding the future: Marco Woman’s Club awards nine scholarships

Installs ‘new’ slate of officers

Lance Shearer

The Marco Woman’s Club meeting was focused firmly on the future, and the young people who will help shape it. The club gave out $40,000 in scholarship funds to nine Marco Island high school seniors, to help them with college expenses.

They were able to do this despite the club not being able to hold its typical fundraising events, including a fashion show and a home tour. Since 2003, the club has awarded over $600,000 to more than 190 students.

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The student award winners all live on Marco and attend either Marco Island Academy or Lely High School, and their achievements bode well for the decades ahead. Kevin Barry of Marco Island Academy took home the largest award, a total of $16,000 over four years, as the recipient of the Verne Cahooris Scholarship Award. Kevin will be attending Rice University, shared a quote from the Dalai Lama with the club when it was his turn to speak, and showed his smoothness saying, “with how civic minded you all are, I should be the one giving you the money.”

Among many accomplishments, Barry won the Optimist Club of Marco Island 2020 essay contest. His career ambitions, he told the ladies, are to be the Florida attorney general, “and maybe governor.”

Jasmin Schauer, Reese Jones, and Grace Fields, all of MIA, were all recipients of $2,000 Lorraine Rodgers scholarships, and Schauer was also one of six students awarded single-year $3,000 MIWC Foundation scholarships. Additional recipients of the MIWC Foundation scholarships include MIA students Joey Puell, Julian Totten, and Matthew Vergo, along with Eden Krumholz and Ellie Poling of Lely High School. Poling and Krumholz were unable to attend but have videos on the MIWC website.

Pullo, the youngest of nine children and recently awarded the Eagle Scout designation, said he wants to be a medical doctor – “currently neurology, but we’ll see” – and will attend the University of Florida. Matthew Vergo has set his sights on being a dentist, and perhaps an orthodontist.

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Along with the usual run of career goals for ambitious, high-achieving students, Julian Totten’s aims stood out; he wants to be the next Justin Bieber. He has “hopes of becoming a big name in the music industry – I’m talking Justin Bieber level,” he said – or maybe an art teacher. He said he likes to get his life guidance from fortune cookies, and gave as an example, “hope is the most precious treasure.”

Reese Jones, who wants to major in psychology and be “a therapist or a teacher – I want to help children” – will attend Florida State University but start off her studies as an international exchange student in Italy. She also made a plug for her services as a babysitter, if you need one who is academically gifted and sincere about working with kids.

In addition to handing out the scholarship awards, the club installed their new slate of officers, which in several cases was identical to the previous slate. Debbie Rago is repeating as president, Elisabeth Rechtin will remain as recording secretary, and treasurer Julia Maslanka and assistant treasurer Leesa Carls will reprise their roles. New to the job will be vice president Barbara Malta, and corresponding secretary Elizabeth White. The previous corresponding secretary, Jill Dizio, before retiring from Tommy Barfield Elementary School, taught a couple of Wednesday’s scholarships when they were in the first and third grades at TBE.

The Marco Island Woman’s Club’s will take the summer off; their next meeting is not until Oct. 6 at the yacht club.