Campus & Community

The Rotary Club of Boca Raton issues historic scholarship gift to PBSC

From left: Gerry Purdy, president-elect of the Rotary Club of Boca Ration; Pia Giannone, co-chair of the club’s scholarship and mentorship committee; David Rutherford, PBSC vice president of Institutional Advancement and CEO of the Foundation; PBSC President Ava Parker, J.D., and Rotarian Bill Riddick.

More than 20 students’ lives were forever changed after the Foundation for Palm Beach State College was awarded a historic $153,000 gift from the Rotary Club of Boca Raton to establish scholarships for students pursuing vocational and career programs, including public safety, emergency response, trades and STEM related fields.

The gift is the largest and one of several the Rotary Club has given to the College Foundation over the years to help students succeed.

“I felt like Santa Claus telling my students the great news that they were chosen as recipients,” said Matt Keeler, director of PBSC’s Emergency Medical Services program who spoke at a donor recognition celebration July 20 at the Public Safety Conference Center on the Lake Worth campus. “There were a few tears in my office. It was truly life changing for all of them.”

Keeler had the pleasure of letting seven students in his program know they were selected, one of whom was first-generation college student Lindsey Lambaz Baron, a scholarship recipient and mother of three, including a special needs son.

Lindsey Lambaz Baron

She completed PBSC’s EMT/Firefighter career certificate program and now hopes to become a paramedic. The award is especially meaningful to her because neither of her parents had the opportunity to attend college.

“It overwhelms me with emotion to know that there are these networks of support to assist and invest in the education of students like me,” said Lambaz Baron, who shared words of gratitude to PBSC and the Rotary Club during the ceremony.

She also noted that receiving the scholarship means more to her than just getting money.

“It means there are people who believe in me and my passion and persistence. I am driven now more than ever to succeed and hope one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals.”

The Rotary Club of Boca Raton’s scholarships have been helping students like Lambaz Baron for the last seven years. With this gift, the club has now awarded more than $300,000 in scholarships to Palm Beach State students. Since the program began, over four hundred students have received club scholarships valued at over $1.5 million.

The recent scholarships not only cover tuition but also pay for needed tools and certifications unique to each program.

“It feels great to know that all of my education and everything that I will need to start will be totally taken care of,” said scholarship recipient Isaiah Favors, who hopes to become a marine service technician.

According to Favors, a technician toolbox with tools can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000.

“This will really help accelerate my journey to becoming a technician,” said Favors, a Wellington resident who said he is also grateful to have gotten an opportunity like this at a local college close to home.

Favors also attended the recognition ceremony which included several Rotary Club members and officers, including its president-elect Gerry Purdy and Pia Giannone, co-chair of the club’s scholarship and mentorship committee.

“It is thrilling to be a part of a club where good people come up with ideas and then things happen,” said Purdy. “We know these students will make such a positive impact in serving our community, so we are thrilled to be a part of making this gift available because it’s very meaningful to us.”

Also in attendance was PBSC President Ava L. Parker, J.D., who thanked the Rotary Club for its generosity and commitment to building the future of Palm Beach County, as well as PBSC Foundation Board chairman Ricky Wade; David Rutherford, PBSC vice president of Institutional Advancement and CEO of the Foundation; Eligio Marquez Jr., director of PBSC’s Industrial and Technical Programs; David Hamel, PBSC’s fire academy director; and John Hadley, PBSC’s interim associate dean of computer science.

After the ceremony, tours were given of the Public Safety Conference Center and the locations of PBSC’s HVAC, marine and automotive programs.

To view photos of the ceremony, click on the image below.


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