10 Seniors Awarded Central Chamber Scholarships

The Central Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce held its annual scholarship awards luncheon Monday, presenting $1,000 scholarships to 10 graduating seniors from area high schools.

Dr. Jim Laub, dean of the MacArthur School of Leadership at Palm Beach Atlantic University, sponsor of the program, spoke at the luncheon.

“We believe in education, we believe in excellence,” Laub said. “We believe in achievement, we believe that all those things come at a price, and all of you who are recognized today have paid a price to get where you are.”

Laub called attention to a special celebration on the fifth anniversary of Palm Beach Atlantic’s Wellington campus May 2. “We’re proud to be a part of the western communities,” he said.

Laub said the college is also interested in leadership and offers two leadership programs at the Wellington campus, which is located on State Road 7 north of Wellington Regional Medical Center in the Wellington Reserve. “We offer an undergraduate in organizational management and a master’s degree in leadership,” he said.

Laub noted that he works specifically with adult learners. “Palm Beach Atlantic University serves a large number of traditional age students, who we are honoring here today,” he said. “We also serve adult students who go back after years of taking care of the family, after years of getting into work and realizing that they never completed their degree.”

He said he is always amazed at their unique stories. For example, the campus’ outstanding graduate this year was Denise Owens, human resources director for a company providing consulting services for more than 70 automobile dealerships nationwide. She is married with two sons, ages 8 and 14. In 2009, her husband was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“A new role of caretaker was added to her already full life,” Laub said, noting that Owens decided to take one course at a time. “That can take quite a while, especially if you believe like she does that you can’t just give a half effort. Every lunch hour at work was committed to school work. Early in the morning and late at night school would get her attention. She not only completed school, she graduated with a 3.95 GPA, and was selected as an outstanding graduate.”

Laub congratulated the scholarship recipients, recognizing that they had paid a price to get where they were, and also taking advantages of opportunities presented to them. “You sacrificed a lot to achieve what you are being recognized for here today,” he said. “And you are embracing opportunities that you have.”

Scholarship recipients were Monica Barraza from John I. Leonard High School, who will attend the University of Florida; Widna Cheriscar from Lake Worth High School, who will attend Palm Beach State College; Vanessa Nascimento from Palm Beach Central High School, who will attend the University of Central Florida; Beatrice Gomez from Pahokee Middle Senior High School, who will attend the University of South Florida; Danielle Toker from Royal Palm Beach High School, who will attend Florida Atlantic University; Cassidy Heitman from Seminole Ridge High School, who will attend the University of South Florida; Jenna Baxter from Wellington High School, who will attend the University of Florida; Donald Meyers from the A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, who will attend the University of Florida; and Jerusha Pervenecki from the King’s Academy, who will attend Asbury University.