From left are Redington Beach Property Owners Association scholarship winners Erika Tvedten, first place; Bradley Gonzales, second place; Ken Sulewski of the RBPOA; Sommer Downs, fourth place; and Sydney Mundorff, third place.
REDINGTON BEACH – It’s that time of year again when a handful of college-bound students vie for thousands of dollars in scholarship money courtesy of the Redington Beach Property Owners’ Association.
This year, the organization handed out $6,500 in college scholarship and prize money to four students who live in Redington Beach on April 24 at Town Hall.
The first, second, third and fourth place winners were not announced until the evening of the award ceremony, which included pizza and dessert for the recipients and about 50 family members, as well as the POA board of directors and Mayor Nick Simons.
“We had three prizes and four applicants, and they were all very good so we had a special meeting and decided to grant a fourth scholarship,” said Ken Sulewski, the current POA president.
The first place award of $2,500 went to Erika Tvedten, a student at Shorecrest Preparatory, with plans to attend either Florida State or Wellesley College in Massachusetts.
The second place winner for $1,500 went to Bradley Gonzales, who is attending the Center for Advanced Technologies. He plans to study at the University of South Florida.
The third place winner of $1,000 was Sydney Mundorff, a student at Osceola Fundamental High School who plans to attend St. Petersburg College.
The fourth place winner of $500 went to Sommer Downs who is attending Seminole High School and headed to the University of South Florida.
To qualify for the award, a student must first complete an application plus include a questionnaire listing extracurricular activities, community involvement and hobbies. This comprises 30 percent of the score and is judged and ranked in order by four RBPOA members.
Each applicant must also compose a 1,500-word essay in response to a specific question of a topical nature posted by members from the POA. Each year, a different topic is chosen, and the essays are likewise critiqued and subsequently ranked by a teacher from Seminole High School.
Everything is factored in and the scholarships are awarded accordingly.
This year’s topic was “Weighing the Rights of Privacy versus the Need for Law Enforcement: Is Edward Snowden a traitor or a hero?”
The conclusions reached by the entrants, according to Sulewski, ran the gamut from yes, no and neither.
Much of the available scholarship money, according to Sulewski, comes from the POA-sponsored Wine Fest Gala, the group’s major annual fundraiser, held in November and open to the public.
The scholarship award is open to any high school senior living in the town of Redington Beach who plans to attend a college or university anywhere in the country.
In addition to the scholarship money, each student received a $250 Amazon gift card for education-related expenses.
The RBPOA is a membership-driven, community organization with the goal of keeping residents apprised of local issues and information and hosting events throughout the year geared toward both families and adults.