Arle & Ken Adams Scholarship Winners

Arle & Ken Adams Scholarship Winners
Wellington Community Foundation Presents Annual Scholarships To Three Talented Students

Story by Deborah Welky  |  Photos by Denise Fleischman

The Wellington Community Foundation’s Arle & Ken Adams Scholarship recipients were named at this year’s Thank You Soirée held Thursday, May 12 at the Boynton Financial Group offices in Wellington. This year’s winners are Ryann Bierman, Miles Wang and Isabella Whedbee — three outstanding candidates, noted scholarship chairs James Seder and Joanna Boynton.

The foundation created this scholarship to serve those in need who can benefit from a helping hand in order to become one of tomorrow’s leaders. The scholarship is awarded annually to Wellington students who either live in or attend high school in Wellington.

The scholarship was named in honor of former Palm Beach County Commissioner Ken Adams and his 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 few aspects of Wellington’s story that cannot be attributed to some kind of involvement or assistance from Arle and Ken Adams. The foundation voted to create this scholarship in their honor to ensure their legacy lives on.

Ryann Bierman recently graduated from Wellington High School with a grade point average of 3.9. She will be attending the University of Florida in Gainesville, where she plans to major in geology — at least that’s the plan for now.

“It may eventually change,” Bierman said. “I’ll have to see how much I like rocks once I start studying them full time.”

She may even check out UF’s new Gator Glaciology Lab, where Associate Professor of Geological Sciences Mickey MacKie, together with a team of undergrads, use machine learning tools to study the conditions under glaciers to better understand movement and melting in order to help ascertain the impact of the world’s glaciers on rising sea levels.

“Once I get my degree, I can work in the paleontology field, although I may have to go beyond my bachelor’s degree to get there,” Bierman explained. “I’d like to go out and find fossils. I think that would be an amazing thing to do, although not forever. Eventually, I’d like to work in a museum or in labs on research projects.”

If her love of rocks does dim while in school, Bierman said she may pivot to a major in anthropology or archeology.

Providing the impetus for her all-round love of science is Bierman’s mother.

“First and foremost, it’s my mom,” she said. “My mother was in the science field during her career, and she’s the one who got me interested in it. Then dad pushed me to pursue what interested me.”

Bierman wants younger students to share her drive.

“Keep working on it,” she offers as advice. “If you’re having trouble with something, ask for help. At the end of the day, you’ll get to where you’re going if you keep trying — and that’s the most important thing. I was told this myself when I entered high school: ‘Have fun but work hard.’”

Receiving the Wellington Community Foundation’s Arle & Ken Adams Scholarship was not something Bierman had anticipated.

“When I first got the call, I was completely surprised,” Bierman said. “It truly means the world to me. It’s going to help me so much to reach my dream.”

During the check presentation, Bierman got to meet the other two winners. “They are lovely people,” she said.

In addition to the $2,500 she received from the Wellington Community Foundation, Bierman also has a few more applications pending, not that she’s dwelling on that. She’s already looking ahead to college.

“I’m looking forward to meeting new people and being in a new place — being out of my comfort zone,” Bierman said.

Miles Wang graduated from the Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts with a 4.0 grade point average. While there, he majored in communications and joined the debate team in his sophomore year. By his senior year, he was serving as captain of the USA Debate Team for the National Speech & Debate Association.

Now, he’s packing his bags and heading to Harvard University.

“I loved growing up in Florida and attending Dreyfoos, but I also realize it’s a bubble of people formed by their environment,” Wang said. “I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of new people from every background and place possible — people who are passionate about whatever they are interested in.”

While Harvard offers more than 3,700 courses in 50 undergraduate fields of study, Wang has chosen to focus on applied mathematics as well as economics, part of the university’s quantitative social sciences program.

It seems like a perfect fit. Harvard’s economics program begins with the premise that individuals have goals and that they pursue those goals as best they can. Wang will learn the behavior of social systems such as markets, corporations, legislatures, and families, ultimately being able to make recommendations that will serve to make people better off.

“Harvard University is very well known for their well-renowned economics department, their economics professors and the resources they direct there,” Wang said.

And, although it’s a bit early to make a final decision, Wang has a few ideas on how he is going to put his education to use. “I’m looking at the fields of either politics, technology or finance,” he said.

While a Harvard education can cost upward of $50,000 per year before financial aid or scholarships, Wang is going to have a lot of help, including the Wellington Community Foundation’s Arle & Ken Adams Scholarship.

“I’m so grateful for it,” Wang said. “I’ve grown up in Wellington my entire life, attending the Little Place and Binks Forest Elementary School, and to have some of my hefty college tuition supported by the scholarship, I’m very grateful for this opportunity.”

Wang has also received a Coca-Cola scholarship, a Kovner Opportunity scholarship, a U.S. Senate Youth Program scholarship, a George Snow scholarship, a Community Foundation of the Palm Beaches & Martin County scholarship, and a National Merit scholarship, some of which are renewable.

“My parents and family were always pushing me,” Wang said. “They loved, encouraged, and supported me. I have a brother, Michael, who is five years older than me, and he has been a great mentor and role model. It takes a village to raise a child.”

Wang recommends that future graduates focus on what they enjoy.

“Pursue activities that you are truly interested in, that you’re truly passionate about,” he said. “You’ll do better at them, and it’ll be better as far as helping you get into college.”

Isabella Whedbee recently graduated from Palm Beach Central High School with a 4.0 grade point average and will be attending the Burnett Honors College at the University of Central Florida.

The college was designed to attract and challenge students who demonstrate an ability to achieve academic excellence and prepares them to enter the best graduate and professional schools. It offers a small college experience within a large research university.

There is also a two-to-four semester program, Honors Undergraduate Thesis, which allows UCF juniors and seniors to conduct original and independent research under the supervision of a faculty committee, culminating in a thesis or related creative project.

“I submitted a separate application and was fortunate enough to be invited to attend,” said Whedbee, who needed to list her volunteer activities and test scores as part of the process. “I’m looking forward to the smaller class sizes and working with a more-connected group of students.”

Whedbee plans to major in communications or advertising and credits a former teacher for steering her in that direction. “I had a high school newspaper teacher named Ms. Joanne Biferie,” Whedbee said. “I was one of her editors on the paper, and she inspired me to continue writing and growing my knowledge of world events.”

After college, Whedbee’s chosen path is clear.

“I would love to manage or own an advertising agency that is able to help businesses and nonprofits that help serve the community and underserved students,” she said. “I’d love to intern during college with a nonprofit or advertising agency and work my way up to help manage it over time.”

Receiving the Wellington Community Foundation’s Arle & Ken Adams Scholarship was a memorable experience for Whedbee. “It was a great moment,” she said. “It is amazing that they selected me, and an empowering feeling to be noticed by such a prestigious nonprofit as the Wellington Community Foundation. I’m very grateful.”

Whedbee is also grateful for having received the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship, which will cover her tuition.

For those college hopefuls still working their way through high school, Whedbee has some advice.

“Block out all the noise and really try to focus on what you can help the community with,” she said. “Colleges will really appreciate it, and you’ll have a new sense of gratification for what you were able to have in your own life.”

The Arle & Ken Adams Scholarship is just one of the many ways the Wellington Community foundation continues to provide support to Wellington students to help them achieve educational success. Again this year, the foundation will be providing 650 new school uniforms and 650 backpacks filled with much-needed school supplies.

If you would like more information about the foundation, or this ongoing initiative, contact WCF Chair Tom Wenham at (561) 333-9843, or visit to become involved and help “build a stronger community.”