Take Stock in Children Senior Recognition Breakfast

Take Stock Scholar Dalila Eugenio-Badillo (left) and her mentor Bettye Hart

AVON PARK, Fla. – June 3, 2021 – Take Stock in Children student scholars and their mentors celebrated their graduation from the program at a Senior Recognition Breakfast held on Thursday, June 3, at the Hotel Jacaranda in Avon Park.

“You’re taking that next step into adulthood,” said Danielle Ochoa, coordinator of Take Stock in Children Student Services, to the student scholars. “This school year was non-traditional. But we are so proud of you for making your way through it.”

The South Florida State College (SFSC) Foundation serves as the lead agency for Take Stock in its service area of DeSoto, Hardee, and Highlands counties. Take Stock in Children is a statewide program that provides children with a mentor and a two-year state college tuition scholarship. The Take Stock staff also help the student obtain financial assistance for housing, transportation, and other expenses. In return, the student signs a contract to earn at least a grade of C in every class, graduate from high school with good attendance records, maintain good behavior in school, and stay crime and drug free.

Take Stock mentors typically meet with their assigned students each week during the school year, offering encouragement and advice. A Take Stock college success coach provides support and guidance to the mentor and the mentee.

“Through the five years that I have known Dalila and her family, she has grown to be more special to me than just someone I meet with every couple of weeks to talk about school, career, and grades,” said Bettye Hart, teacher at Avon Park Middle School and mentor to Take Stock scholar Dalila Eugenio-Badillo. “I think of her as one of my own grandchildren. As I leave this mentorship with her, I believe that she will accomplish anything she sets her mind to.”

Each graduating student was presented with a Take Stock in Children medallion. They were:

From Avon Park High School:

Dalila Eugenio-Badillo, who plans to attend SFSC; Adriana Ramirez-Marcelo, who plans to attend SFSC; and Jocelyn Hernandez, who plans to attend the University of Central Florida (UCF).

From DeSoto County High School:

Avigail Avila, who plans to attend Florida Gulf Coast University and Yeni Flores-Velazquez, who plans to attend Suncoast Technical College.

From Hardee Senior High School:

Brittany Lopez-Perez, who plans to attend SFSC; Esmeralda Morales, who plans to attend SFSC; and Kayla Flash, who plans to attend Georgia Technical College.

Take Stock in Children Senior Recognition Breakfast

Mentor Nancy Deyrup (left) with Take Stock scholar Sole Knorr-Levatte

From Lake Placid High School:
Sole Knorr-Levatte, who plans to attend the University of Florida and Kevin Lopez, who plans to attend SFSC.

From Sebring High School:

Anthony Adhin, who plans to attend the University of South Florida Honors College; Aidan Beasley, who plans to attend the UCF; Genesis Shannon, who plans to attend SFSC; Isaac Simmons, who plans to attend Florida State University; and Colby Whit, who plans to pursue a certificate in Welding or Law Enforcement.

Linda Roman, Take Stock in Children college success coach, was also recognized with the “Just Hear Me Out” Award for always introducing new ideas into the Take Stock in Children program.

During the Senior Recognition Breakfast, Ochoa mentioned the need for more Take Stock mentors. “As the pandemic set us back in our recruiting for the end of the 2019-20 school year and the entirety of the 2020-21 school year, the Take Stock in Children program needs nearly 40 volunteer mentors across DeSoto, Hardee, and Highlands counties,” she said. “At TSIC, the motto is ‘every student deserves a mentor.’”

For every student that Take Stock enrolls, there is a promise of a two-year tuition scholarship, as well as the promise of a volunteer mentor. Become part of a community of caring, compassionate adults who choose to devote their time to students by offering support, guidance, and encouragement. A mentor can change a life in as little as 30 minutes a week in a variety of mentoring opportunities: meeting in person at local high schools or SFSC campuses, texting and/or video through the Take Stock Mentor app, meeting virtually, or any combination of these.  To learn more about becoming a mentor, contact Take Stock by calling ext. 7343 or emailing TSIC@southflorida.edu.