GTE Foundation rewards students’ community involvement with $30,000 in scholarships
TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 6, 2012) – Launching a $30,000 college scholarship program with an emphasis on rewarding students’ community involvement, GTE Financial has announced 12 winners of $2,500 GTE Foundation scholarships for 2012.
Working from a pool of 166 scholarship applicants who are members of GTE Financial, a panel of Tampa Bay business and education leaders focused part of the process on assessing the applicants’ community service and volunteer work, tying into GTE Financial’s focus on being a partner with the communities it serves.
Many of the winners had compelling community service stories to tell:
When University of South Florida student Anthony “Brian” Decker was in high school, he founded a group called Academic Achievement, which offered free tutoring at Palmetto High. Robin Russo, a King High graduate now attending the University of Pennsylvania, raised over $100,000 for the Relay For Life.
Sarah Castro, a USF student and Haines City High graduate, volunteered with a group called Give Kids the World, bringing happiness to children with terminal illnesses. And Kristin Lautzenheiser, a Nebraska Christian College student and Brandon High graduate, has volunteered for over 600 hours working with special needs children at the YMCA.
“It was gratifying to meet young people so committed to community engagement,” said Rhea Law, a selection committee panelist and CEO, Chair of the Board of the Fowler White Boggs law firm. “These scholarship winners are role models, and it’s wonderful that GTE Financial is recognizing them and encouraging their volunteer work with scholarships.”
The 12 scholarship recipients of $2,500 GTE Foundation scholarships were:
- Anthony “Brian” Decker, University of South Florida;
- Joshua Bell, Polk State College;
- Alexa Joseph, University of South Florida;
- Brittany Pettenger, Florida Atlantic University;
- Robin Russo, University of Pennsylvania;
- Tyler Rich, N.C. State University;
- Sarah Castro, University of South Florida;
- Danwei Wu, Duke University;
- Jake Altier, University of Tampa;
- Kristin Lautzenheiser, Nebraska Christian College;
- Kelly Vasbinder, Florida State University;
- Kennedy Bailey, University of South Florida.
GTE was honored to have a diverse and esteemed panel of judges making the selections, said Joe Brancucci, GTE Financial President and CEO. “It’s today’s community leaders recognizing tomorrow’s leaders and it’s really a privilege to make this possible,” he said.
The selection committee was comprised of 13 of the Tampa Bay area’s business and education leaders: Renée Vaughn, President of Williams Consulting; Jamal Wilson, President of Leverage Financial; Rhea Law, CEO of Fowler White Boggs, P.A.; Dr. Shawn Robinson, Hillsborough Community College Ybor President; Scott Beasley, University of South Florida’s Chair of the Finance Department; Tod Leiweke, Tampa Bay Lightning CEO; Kyle Parks, President of Bayview Public Relations; Leroy Moore, COO of the Tampa Housing Authority; Dewey Mitchell, President of Prudential Tropical Realty; Debbie Wege, Executive Director of the BECU Foundation; Suzanne Perry, Owner of Datz Restaurant; Phil Jones, President of the Hillsborough Education Foundation; and Rose-Marie Bass and Doris Seckman of the GTE Financial Board of Directors.
“I congratulate GTE Financial for rewarding the development of character and the community involvement of these students,” said Renée Vaughn, the scholarship selection committee chair and the first lady of University of Tampa. “It’s quite an impressive inaugural program.”
The GTE Foundation Scholarship program will take applications from member-students and make awards annually, and will continue to include leaders of the community in the selection process. For more information on the GTE Foundation and the GTE scholarship program, visit gtefinancial.org.
About GTE Financial:
GTE Financial is a federal credit union, a not-for-profit financial cooperative, with over $1.5 billion in assets and 21 Community Financial Centers located throughout West Central Florida. Chartered in 1935, GTE is locally owned and operated in the Tampa Bay area, serving over 185,000 individuals and businesses. You can find more information at gtefinancial.org.