Shauna Norwood (center) is a 2018 Take Stock in Children Leaders 4 Life fellow. Appearing with her are (from left, front row) Danielle Ochoa, Take Stock Student Success Coach, Irene Castanon, and Take Stock College Success Coach Linda Roman; (back row) Suan Eells, Shawn Norwood, Jamie Bateman, and Dr. Thomas Leitzel, SFSC president.

Over the past eight years, five local Take Stock in Children scholars have won prestigious Leaders 4 Life scholarships, and on Dec. 7 Shauna Norwood became the sixth.

The $40,000 scholarship will pay for Norwood’s living accommodations, textbooks, and other needs while she pursues her bachelor’s degree in medical technology at the University of South Florida.

The daughter of Shawn Norwood and Susan Eells, Norwood is dually enrolled in Hardee Senior High School and South Florida State College’s Collegiate High School. She is currently ranked 13th in her high school class of 284 students with a weighted GPA of 4.22. She graduates from high school this month and will receive her Associate in Arts degree from SFSC in May.

Once she completes her bachelor’s degree, she plans to earn a certificate in cytotechnology from Piedmont College in Athens, Ga. Norwood’s ultimate goal is to become a laboratory technician who specializes in examining cells for cancer. She was inspired to embark on this career after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Norwood learned she received the scholarship at the SFSC Foundation’s annual luncheon. While she was expressing her gratitude for her experiences with Take Stock in Children, Santa Claus delivered the good news with the help of SFSC Foundation Executive Director Jamie Bateman.

Irene Castanon, the local Take Stock coordinator, was gratified to see the scholarship go to a student she personally mentored. “Shauna is truly a devoted, confident and studious student,” Caston said. “She has a great work ethic and volunteers whenever there is a need. More importantly, her family is her rock, and that is the reason she is a very genuine person.”

Take Stock in Children, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that provides high-achieving, low-income students with mentors who coach them from middle school through their transition to college.  Students who complete the program receive a scholarship that covers the first two years of college or additional vocational training. The SFSC Foundation is the lead agency for Take Stock in DeSoto, Hardee, and Highlands counties. For more information about becoming a Take Stock mentor or making a donation, call the F­­oundation at 863-453-3133.