IMMOKALEE — Thirteen first-year freshmen from The Immokalee Foundation were able to enjoy a range of fun activities thanks to the annual Isabella Eghrari Memorial Scholarship. The award provided $500 scholarships for Immokalee Foundation students who have completed their first semester of college. However, the stipulation is that they are required to spend the money on something FUN!
The highly enthusiastic students certainly rose to the occasion and earmarked the money for a variety of activities including buying makeup, renting a boat, going skydiving, taking a shopping spree, going go kart racing, buying music production equipment and much more.
“The scholarship gives our students some financial freedom and reminds them of the value of taking time to enjoy themselves,” said Paulina Magana, Postsecondary Program Manager at The Immokalee Foundation. “This money helps our students do things they love or would like to try without worrying about money. For some of our students, this may be the first time they have ever experienced having ‘disposable income.’”
The annual scholarship was established in 2011 by Dr. Massoud Eghrari and his wife, Tayebeh, to honor Dr. Eghrari’s late wife, Isabella. This very popular special award also serves as a great example of the creative ways community members continue to support the Foundation’s very deserving student population.
Students apply for the scholarship with an essay describing what they would do with the $500 prize. Current scholarship recipients attend a variety of colleges and Universities, including Harvard University, Florida SouthWestern State College, Florida Gulf Coast University and University of Florida.
Crystal Flores, who just finished her freshman year at Florida Southwestern State College, spent the money on skydiving — despite her fear of heights. “It was my first time going skydiving and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It has always been on my bucket list, but I never pursued it because I was afraid of heights, and did not have the funds to do so, but I overcame my fear and now I feel accomplished,” said Crystal. “Usually, scholarships are only meant for school-related supplies, but this one is special and it meant the world to me. Thank you again, Dr. Eghrari. You don’t know the lasting impact you have made on me.”
Rising Florida Gulf Coast University sophomore Elvis Velasquez used the funds to help purchase equipment to support his dreams of becoming a music producer. “I used the money to buy a microphone for music production, which has been a blast,” said Elvis. “I also used the money to buy myself a new computer mouse, a pizza and treat myself to a movie at the movie theater. I want to thank Dr. Eghrari for his kind generosity. I am sure the other students enjoyed this scholarship as much as I did. It has helped me to relax, enjoy myself and have fun.”
Israel Estrada, a rising sophomore at Florida Gulf Coast University, used the money to travel to Fort Lauderdale for three days during spring break and charter a boat with his friends. “My friend who has a boating license and I rented out a 34-foot boat for a day and took some fishing rods to go fishing.” said Israel,
“It was a lot of fun to hang out with my friends on a private boat. I want to thank Dr. Eghrari for allowing me to experience new places and make lifetime memories. Without his support, I wouldn’t have been able to have those memories.”
To express their gratitude and share how they spent the scholarship funds, students recently wrote thank you letters to Dr. and Mrs. Eghrari.
“All these students are looking to better themselves by pursuing a college education,” said Dr. Eghrari. “This yearly scholarship allows us to remember my late wife by providing these well-deserving students the opportunity to have fun and reward themselves.”
For more information on The Immokalee Foundation’s transformational work and to stay connected with our student’s stories, visit: immokaleefoundation.org.
About The Immokalee Foundation
For more than 30 years, The Immokalee Foundation has been preparing the next generation of leaders through a 100% focus on education, career readiness, and professional development for students in Immokalee -- from kindergarten to postsecondary education. The Immokalee Foundation offers new pathways to success and financial independence through robust programming that prepares students for well-paying, in-demand professional careers in Business Management & Entrepreneurship, Education & Human Services, Engineering & Construction Management and Healthcare. For additional information call 239-430-9122 or visit immokaleefoundation.org.