Gulf Winds Cares Foundation awards $25,000 in scholarships to 5 students

Published 4:26 pm Wednesday, June 7, 2023

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Special to the Advance

The Gulf Winds Cares Foundation awarded $25,000 in scholarships this academic year to five amazing students: John Colbie English, Michaela Manias, Marissa Ponder, Shilpa Shiju, and Caroline Williamson. Each student received $5,000 to continue their education pursuing unique passions.

Gulf Winds received over 73 applications for the Scholarship Program, designed to support students entering their first year of higher education. Eligible applicants are members of Gulf Winds Credit Union or are the children or grandchildren of members. Applications are reviewed by a committee consisting of Credit Union employees that evaluate each applicant’s academic achievements, community involvement, personal essay, letters of recommendation and financial need.

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This year, for the first time, a scholarship was reserved for a student working towards a career in the medical field. This scholarship honors Micah Jay Williams, who sadly succumbed to a heart condition at just eight months of age. The Micah Williams Memorial Scholarship was created for students enrolled in a higher education program in the medical field, so they can contribute to the health of their patients and aid people like Micah.

“This year we had a record-breaking number of applicants, all of exceptional quality,” said Kurt Stenerson, Gulf Winds Cares Foundation President. “The selection of winners was not an easy decision but those that we chose impressed us with their tenacity, unfiltered passion, and integrity.”

Since 2007, Gulf Winds has provided $242,500 in scholarships to 65 first year continuing education students.

Meet the 2023 Scholarship Recipients

John Colbie English lives in Uriah, AL, and is graduating from J. U. Blacksher High School where he is currently dual enrolled with Coastal Alabama Community College. He is continuing at CACC where he will study Animal Science with a focus on animal nutrition. Marissa Ponder lives in Tallahassee, FL, and is graduating from James S. Rickards High School’s International Baccalaureate program. She is enrolled at the University of Florida to study Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. Shilpa Shiju lives in Tallahassee, FL, and is graduating from Lawton Chiles High School where she is currently dual enrolled with Florida State University. She is continuing her education at Florida State University to study Behavioral Neuroscience. Caroline Williamson lives in Brewton, AL, and is graduating from T.R. Miller High School where she is currently dual enrolled at Coastal Alabama Community College. She is enrolled at Auburn University to become a Nurse Practitioner. The Micah Williams Memorial Scholarship recipient, Michaela Manias, lives in Tallahassee, FL, and is currently attending Florida State University working towards her Master of Science in Physician Assistance Practice.