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Rishi Gadikota of Alachua County Honored at Sunshine State Scholars Conference as One of Florida’s Top STEM Students

Press release from Florida Department of Education

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran recognized 100 of Florida’s highest achieving 11th grade science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students at the 2022 Sunshine State Scholars Conference in Orlando. Fifteen honored students were awarded 1-year scholarships to attend one of Florida’s nationally top-ranked colleges or universities. These scholarships were funded by the AT&T Foundation and the Florida Prepaid College Foundation.

“There is a reason Florida’s higher education system has been ranked #1 in the nation for five consecutive years,” said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. “Our higher education institutions prepare students to find good and high-paying jobs right away. Thanks to Governor DeSantis, we’re setting our students and their families up for future success and historic prosperity.”

“Since 2013, AT&T has supported the Sunshine State Scholars program. We are proud of these students and their accomplishments,” said Joe York, President AT&T Florida. “These students will help shape the future of our communities and our state. We are happy to have a part in their present and future success.”

“It is an honor and pleasure to give the gift of college to these incredible students, recognizing the commitment they have shown in their studies and to excelling in the high-demand fields of STEM,” said Florida Prepaid College Foundation Director Cynthia O’Connell. “We look forward to seeing these scholarship recipients make an impact on their career fields, their communities, and our state.”

The 2022 Sunshine State Scholars conference brought together the top 11th grade STEM scholars from around the state and connected them with employers that specialize in the STEM fields as well as created networking opportunities between the scholars and schools from Florida’s College and State University Systems. Students partook in a recruitment fair with higher education officials, participated in problem-solving activities, and attended presentations by industry and research experts.

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“Congratulations to this year’s outstanding class of Sunshine State Scholars,” said Marshall M. Criser, III, Chancellor of the State University System of Florida. “These students are a shining example of excellence. We are proud of their accomplishments and look forward to assisting them in achieving their dreams.”

In addition to the honor the scholars received from Commissioner Corcoran and Senior Chancellor Jacob Oliva, representatives from Florida’s colleges and universities met with the students to discuss higher education opportunities available to them in Florida. This included informational sessions on college funding for students and their parents, as well as an interactive career panel discussion with industry experts.

The 15 recipients of the scholarships were selected based on their future career goals and their intention to pursue higher education in Florida. Below are the recipients of the 2022 Sunshine State Scholars scholarship awards:

  • Rishi Gadikota, Alachua County
  • Huishan He, Bradford County
  • Melanie Allen, Brevard County
  • Nha-Thanh (Emma) Duong, Clay County
  • Nicholas Chowdhury, Columbia County
  • Charlotte Caccam, Duval County
  • Nyla Searl, Duval County
  • Treyvious Copeland, Gadsden County
  • Luke Lentz, Gulf County
  • Drew Beattie, Hardee County
  • Macy Fraunfelter, Marion County
  • Elise Tong, Pinellas County
  • Rishi Patel, Volusia County
  • Noah Dalbey, Walton County
  • Kirstyn Brown, Washington County

The 2022 Sunshine State Scholars conference was made possible through the support of the Florida Education Foundation, leading supporters AT&T Foundation and Florida Prepaid College Foundation, and Florida Lottery, Helios Education Foundation, Kyra Solutions, Limbitless Solutions, Lockheed Martin, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, and the State University System.

Governor Ron DeSantis has consistently supported STEM education in Florida. In March 2022, Governor DeSantis announced $44 million in new funding to support STEM and hands-on learning programs throughout the state. The funding comes as part of a $289 million post-pandemic education package aimed at closing student achievement gaps, boosting student resiliency, and improving STEM education statewide.