Bishop Frank J. Dewane, joined by Board members of the Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida Inc., honored 23 scholarship winners during a ceremony on May 19, 2023, at Epiphany Cathedral Parish Hall in Venice.
The recipients of the Mary Fran Carroll, Coseglia, Schaerf, Toner, Schwarz and Carey Scholarships were recognized for their outstanding academic achievements and for their commitment to continuing their education in pursuit of wide-ranging career paths such as education, medicine, business, engineering and more. The Foundation Scholarship Committee carefully reviewed 91 applications before determining the winners. Many of the Foundation Board members were present for the luncheon.
Bishop Dewane opened the presentation with prayer and said he was impressed with the new Foundation scholars, noting their academic success and ambition to seek out distinctive goals. “God has blessed you each with different gifts. Enjoy what you are going to do but keep an eye on that goal of living your faith.”
Michael Morse, Executive Director of the Catholic Community Foundation, congratulated the new scholars, saying the young men and women are worthy to forever be known as Foundation Scholars.
“We do a lot of things at the Foundation and an important component is that our donors decide where every single dollar goes,” Morse said. “Our donors do it because they believe in a lot of things. Most importantly, they believe in the next generation. After meeting you and reading the applications and learning what you want to do, the impact you’ve already had – not just on your community, but in your parishes and families – it fills (myself and the Foundation Scholarship Committee) with hope. You, as the next generation, are wonderful.”
Ava Shields, the James and Margaret Schwarz Scholar, graduated from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High in Sarasota and said she is choosing to study education at Florida Atlantic University because during her senior year she worked with fifth and eighth grade students at Incarnation Catholic School. “Before I did that, I didn’t know I wanted to be a teacher. It took that internship to realize that. I’m super excited to go out and become a teacher and to change lives the way other teachers have helped change mine.”
Jacob Roberts, of Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, was named one of four Frank and Florence Coseglia Memorial Scholars. He will attend the University of Central Florida in the fall to study computer science. He applied for the scholarship because he has always been involved in the Hispanic community at St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral, speaking at Spanish Mass and much more. “I always wanted to be someone who gives back to the community, especially when the hurricane (Ian) struck. It made me realize I want to be someone who pushes his vision forward and helps other people. I am studying computer science in order to give back to the community that raised me, thanks to the faith I was able to build upon in my life.”
Mary Fran Carroll Scholar Paige Singleton, a graduate of Venice High School who will be studying forestry and environmental biology at Whitman College in Walla-Walla, Washington, thanked the Foundation for the scholarship and said her goal in life is to help the environment. “I chose this career path because I love the environment. I want to spend my life protecting this beautiful world so everyone can enjoy it as much as I have.”
The Mary Fran Carroll Scholarship provides a total of 15 academic scholarships to residents of Sarasota County and is available for tuition, books and fees. This year there were 14 traditional scholarship winners (high school graduates pursuing an undergraduate degree) and one non-traditional winner (an adult learner seeking an advanced education after being away from school for a number of years). The scholarship is renewable annually up to a total of five academic years for students maintaining a minimum unweighted GPA of 3.2 or greater, while also making progress toward their career goal. In the past year, many students had their scholarship renewed.
The Frederick W. Schaerf, M.D., Ph.D. Neuroscience Scholarship provides a one-time scholarship to a graduating senior from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers interested in pursuing a career in neuroscience or similar field. This was the fourth year the scholarship was offered.
The Coseglia Scholarship provides a one-time scholarship to one financially needy graduating senior from each of the four Catholic High Schools within the Diocese of Venice. The winners were nominated by their high schools and approved by the Foundation Board.
The Schwarz Scholarship is a one-time college scholarship to be awarded for tuition, books, fees, and housing expenses for a student graduating from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota.
The Foundation also presented the Barry L. Carey M.D. Scholarship, which provides a renewable college scholarship for tuition, books, fees, and housing expenses to practicing Catholic high school seniors graduating this year from Catholic, private, home school, or public schools within the 10 counties of the Diocese of Venice. In addition, scholarship recipients must be the first generation in their family to attend a college or university.
In addition, the Dr. Steve Toner Math Award Scholarship provides one non-renewable scholarship to a student graduating from St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples who is interested in pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering or math.
During the scholarship ceremony, the recipients shared their personal experiences as well as college and career goals. Each expressed their appreciation for the scholarship from the Foundation. Many specifically explained how the scholarship money will assist in lessening the financial burden of attending college and pursuing their career goals. In total, the Foundation will have awarded $167,900 in scholarships for 2023 (this includes both new winners and renewals).
The Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida Inc. was established to provide philanthropic opportunities for individuals, such as Mary Fran Carroll, to create lasting gifts in support of Catholic programs and ministries within the Diocese of Venice. This year, the Foundation is on track to distribute $3.5 million in endowed support for Catholic Schools, Parishes, Seminarian education, programs for the needy, college scholarships and more.
To learn more about the Catholic Community Foundation, please contact Michael Morse at 941-441-1124 or by email at Morse@dioceseofvenice.org. You can also visit the Foundation website at www.CCFDioceseofvenice.org.
2023 Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida, Inc. Scholars
Mary Fran Carroll Scholars – traditional
Paxton Barrick, Venice High School, University of Florida; Aiden Ericson, Venice High School (2022), University of Florida; Natalie Kisgen, Venice High School, University of Florida; Rebekah Kertz, Venice High School (2021), University of Florida; Christian Mendez, Venice High School, Florida Polytechnic University; Paige Singleton, Venice High School, Whitman College; Ella Smith Venice High School, Lehigh University; Stephen Akers, Venice High School, Belmont Abbey College; Nicolas Cox, Sarasota High School, University of Florida; Alyssa Collier, Riverview High School, University of Florida; David Williams, Venice High School, University of Central Florida; Marina Berardi, Venice High School, Ringling College of Art and Design; William Martin, Venice High School (2022), University of Central Florida; Kiersten Rau, Venice High School, Michigan State University.
Mary Fran Carroll Scholars – non-traditional
Karla King, University of South Florida.
Frank and Florence Coseglia Memorial Scholarship
Celeste Harrell, Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, University of Florida; Serene Aviles, St. John Neumann Catholic High School, University of Florida; Michael Long Jr., Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria Parish, Ave Maria University; Jacob Roberts, Bishop Verot Catholic High School, University of Central Florida.
Barry L. Carey, M.D. Scholarship
Andres Plata, Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School, Ave Maria University.
James and Margaret Schwarz Scholarship
Ava Shields, Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, Florida Atlantic University.
Frederick W. Schaerf, M.D., Ph.D. Neuroscience Scholarship
Audrianna Larrea, Bishop Verot Catholic High School, University of Florida.
Dr. Steve Toner Math Award
Tye Phoenix, St. John Neumann Catholic High School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.