Some of the best opportunities in life exist in your own backyard. That is especially the case when it comes to high school students and their parents who are searching for college scholarship opportunities. One of those scholarships with roots in Wellington is the new Arle and Ken Adams Scholarship, which is administered by the Wellington Community Foundation.
The Arle and Ken Adams Scholarship, which was distributed for the first time this year, was created to serve those in need who can benefit from a helping hand in order to become one of tomorrow’s leaders.
According to Wellington Community Foundation Chair Tom Wenham, the scholarship will be awarded annually to two students from Wellington who have a proven track record of supporting the Village of Wellington and its residents.
The scholarship was named in honor of former Palm Beach County Commissioner Ken Adams and his late wife, Arle Adams. Longtime Wellington residents, Arle and Ken Adams made great contributions to the growth and development of the Village of Wellington, dating back to the late 1970s.
Key figures in getting Wellington incorporated as a municipality in the 1990s, there are very few aspects of Wellington’s growth that cannot be attributed to some kind of involvement or assistance from Arle and Ken Adams.
A scholarship committee led by Wellington Community Foundation board members James Seder and Joanna Boynton was given the task of recommending the inaugural recipients of the Arle and Ken Adams Scholarship.
According to Wenham, there were 18 applicants, and making a decision was difficult.
“Our selection committee recommended two out of 18, and it was not easy,” Wenham said. “They all had great GPAs and résumés.”
Seder agreed that there was a wealth of qualified candidates who submitted applications this inaugural year.
“I am very proud of all of these young men and women,” he said. “We received 18 applications in our first year, which is an incredible number.”
The scholarship committee put the word out about the new scholarship by reaching out to local high schools.
“We relied on guidance counselors to put the word out there,” Seder said. “We also believed that the higher award amount of $2,500 could help a lot of people with expenses. Once the applications were received, the scholarship committee reviewed each application. I can assure you that we spent many hours and days reviewing these applications. Each one had its own merits. Committee members submitted their top candidates to the foundation’s board of directors, and votes were cast to award the scholarships.”
The first recipients are Wellington residents Sebastian Suarez, a 2019 graduate of Palm Beach Central High School, and Francesca Herman, a 2019 graduate of Wellington High School.
“We strived to make our scholarship different from the others by trying to focus on the values and qualities that Arle and Ken Adams exemplified over the years,” Seder said. “This includes an emphasis on public service, leadership and community involvement. We also considered academic achievement and overcoming adversity in making the award decision.”
Suarez will attend the University of Florida in Gainesville. As part of his commitment to Wellington, Suarez has rebuilt homes, painted houses and raised money for the Children’s Miracle Network. The scholarship money will help Suarez and his family pay the college bills when he enrolls at UF, where he will pursue a degree in architecture. Suarez added that that he had help in searching for college scholarships, which led him to apply for the Arle and Ken Adams Scholarship.
“I found a lot of information on the bulletin board of my school’s web site,” he said. “The Palm Beach County School Board also has listed a number of scholarships for local students to apply for and pursue.”
Suarez, who had a 3.95 GPA and a 5.13 HPA at Palm Beach Central, noted that it just takes basic verbal communication skills to find out the existence of many scholarships.
“It’s important to ask advice from other people who have recently gone through the college scholarship process,” Suarez suggested. “Ask your friends about their experiences and speak with your school’s guidance counselor. I have an older sister who just recently went to college, so I learned a lot from her experiences, as well.”
At Palm Beach Central, Suarez was a member of the Math Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, National Honor Society and Interact Club. Those extracurricular affiliations helped, not only in his application for this scholarship, but for others as well, such as one he received from the Rotary Club of Wellington.
Even though he has graduated, he’s still hoping that he will receive another scholarship before he heads to Gainesville. “I’ve also applied for the Charles R. O’Melia Scholarship, which supports students who want to pursue a career in architecture,” Suarez said. “In the essay part of the application, you had to tell your story about how important architecture is to you.”
Herman, who eventually wants to graduate from medical school, earned great grades at Wellington High School — a 3.98 GPA and 5.36 HPA. She will be headed to Tulane University in August.
Herman feels that many scholarship organizations are more interested in a candidate’s level of community service than their grade point average — but it doesn’t hurt to have strong grades.
Herman founded a club at Wellington High School that helped the less fortunate. It’s called the Seed Those in Need Club. She also traveled to Gainesville last summer where she conducted research on how restriction enzymes can attack Type 1 diabetes.
Both Suarez and Herman agree that half the battle in winning college scholarships is taking the time to apply for them. Being able to put your thoughts in writing — featuring properly written declarative sentences — is often the biggest hurdle in earning a college scholarship, they both agreed.
That is something they both accomplished in their scholarship applications.
“Sebastian and Francesca were both strong academic performers and involved in the community,” Seder said. “What spoke to me was how they overcame personal adversity in their lives and were still able to find the time to help others.”
Also important is for applicants to point out how the scholarship will help them achieve their goals
“I would like to see future scholarship applications place an additional emphasis on financial need,” Seder said. “With education costs always rising, sometimes these scholarships make the difference in whether a student attends college or not. If our scholarship helps someone get to college, I believe it’s money well spent and a great investment in the future.”
To learn more about the Arle and Ken Adams Scholarship, call the Wellington Community Foundation at (561) 333-9843.