Women of Sugarmill Woods scholars 0501

ROCHELLE KAISER/For the Chronicle

The Women of Sugarmill Woods held one of its favorite luncheons of the year where members presented a large number of scholarships to Citrus County students. Pictured standing from left are Alexis Stires, Kenneth van Asdonk, Maya Edgerton, school district Superintendent Sandra “Sam” Himmel, Amelia Burkel, Kaitlyn Taylor and WSW Director of Education and Scholarships Sandy Rundell. Seated from left are Alyssa Foster, Makenzie Shaw, Patricia Annis, Lauren Schuler, Heather Rice, Hazel Fernandez and Nicole Ervin.

April is a big month for members of the Women of Sugarmill Woods as they crowded into the clubhouse dining room to hold the club’s annual scholarship luncheon celebrating several students as they set out to achieve their college goals.

Sandy Rundell, the director of education and scholarships, and her committee scoured through numerous applications to select more than a dozen deserving young students as they begin their journey.

In addition to the students attending the luncheon, there were other recipients who were unable to attend.

“In addition to awarding scholarships to students today, we will also be awarding $4,000 to the Jeanne Balmer Take Stock in Children scholarship; $3,000 for a Withlacoochee Technical College scholarship and $2,500 to Homosassa Elementary School for its Accelerated Reader program. This brings our total amount of scholarships to $28,500,” said Rundell.

Patricia Annis, a Crystal River High School graduate and member of the health academy for the past four years, is the recipient of the Women of Sugarmill Woods $1,000 College of Central Florida Endowed Scholarship.

Annis currently works part time in a doctor’s office with a goal of one day becoming a pediatrician and hopes to participate in research to help find cures for diseases.

Citrus High School

The following Citrus High School graduates will each receive a $1,500 scholarship:

Maya Edgerton has a passion for the environment, especially waterways and oceans.

“I plan to pursue a degree in biology, she said. Edgerton plans to attend Florida Gulf Coast University to study marine science for her degree.

Nicole Ervin enjoys taking on leadership roles and has been very active in sports. She plans to attend Saint Leo University with a goal of majoring in forensic science or criminal justice as she pursues a degree to become a detective.

Makenzie Shaw has a love for animals. She was honored as the state of Florida Youth Volunteer of the Year in 2017. She can be found volunteering at many local organizations including the wildlife park on Sundays, at the Highland Place Assisted Living, at Out of the Box Kennel and Ziggy’s Haven Bird Sanctuary.

With a passion for animals Shaw plans to study biology to become an animal behaviorist at the University of South Florida/St. Petersburg campus.

Kenneth van Asdonk has been involved in the community by participating in soccer, tennis, swimming and golf while working in the service industry.

He plans to continue his work in the hospitality field by pursuing a business degree from the University of South Florida.

Katy Valerio plans to open her own business someday after attending Hillsborough Community College.

Crystal River High School

The following students will graduate from Crystal River High School with a $1,500 scholarship:

Alyssa Foster is pursuing a degree in applied mathematics at Florida International University. She also plans to attend dental school to become an orthodontist.

Heather Rice is currently dual enrolled at the College of Central Florida Health Academy with plans to attend the University of South Florida.

Having coped with many challenges herself, Rice feels she is ready to work hard in pursuit of becoming a pediatrician.

Kaitlyn Taylor is ready to work hard while attending the University of South Florida to become a veterinarian.

To help prepare herself, she has been a member of the Academy of Health Careers, achieving 291 volunteer hours while also working at Seafood Sellers.

Lecanto High School

These students will graduate Lecanto High School with a $1,500 scholarship:

Amelia Burkel plans to major in criminology and forensic science or journalism and media production at Flagler College. “One day I would like to work with the FBI,” Burkel said.

Hazel Fernandez is an International Baccalaureate student. She is a leader in student government and sports with plans to attend the University of South Florida to study political science and international relations which she plans to use to help her impact the global community.

Lauren Schuler has attended the Academy of Environmental Science and has participated in student government while planning to attend Florida Gulf Coast University. “I would like to become a wildlife biologist,” said Schuler.

Alexis Stires has been busy participating in the International Baccalaureate program and taking AP courses. She will attend the University of Florida with plans to study interior design and architecture.

“This year we were able to provide more than last year because of the hard work by all of our members. The annual School’astic Classic Golf Tournament was a huge success as were many of the fundraising efforts by our members. Their hard work allowed us to give thousands of dollars to these young students as they pursue their dreams,” Rundell said.

After several years of leadership as the director of education and scholarships, Rundell will relinquish her title to someone else this year. Committee member Sue Hyson thanked Rundell for her time, dedication and all of her hard work over the years while members wished her well. Rundell plans to continue with the club in other areas.

The final meeting of the season will take place May 20 with the presentation of the Women of Sugarmill Woods’ annual Community Service Awards and the election of new officers for the clubs’ 2019-20 year. Information about membership can be found on the club website at www.womenofsugarmillwoods.com

Sandy Rundell contributed to this story.

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