Miami-Dade County

2019 Sunshine State Scholars named, are off to Orlando

Fernando Bravo of the School for Advanced Studies, Nadeska Montalvan of G. Holmes Braddock High School and Pedro Dal Bo of MAST Academy on Key Biscayne.
Fernando Bravo of the School for Advanced Studies, Nadeska Montalvan of G. Holmes Braddock High School and Pedro Dal Bo of MAST Academy on Key Biscayne.

Several local high school students were recently named 2019 Sunshine State Scholars after being nominated by members of Miami-Dade County Public Schools as the district’s top STEM scholars.

Each year, Florida-based school districts select their top 11th-graders in the areas of science, technology, engineering or mathematics to participate in a two-day think tank in Orlando, hosted by the Florida Department of Education and featuring scholars and schools from Florida’s College and State University System. This year, students focused on various issues that have affected Florida, including public transportation, water contamination and Hurricane Michael.

The local 2019 scholars included Fernando Bravo from School for Advanced Studies, Nadeska Montalvan from G. Holmes Braddock High School and Pedro Dal Bo from MAST Academy on Key Biscayne. Each received a free iPad and complimentary tickets to Universal Orlando, SeaWorld and a Blue Man Group concert.


The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami, a nonprofit mentoring organization in South Florida, awarded more than $1.6 million in scholarships to nearly 200 graduating high school seniors at the organization’s annual Graduation and Scholarship Celebration. The event took place at the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, and the graduation ceremony was emceed by Gale Nelson, president and CEO of the organization.

“Our annual graduation ceremony is a one-of-a-kind event that allows our seniors to celebrate the completion of their programs alongside their mentors who have helped guide them along the way,” said Nelson. “We encourage the students to share their experiences through ‘Motivational Moments’ to inspire others and lead by example.”

Former Miami Heat player Shane Battier presented the scholarships to graduates through his Battier Take Charge Foundation, and speakers included Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and Jason Jenkins, senior vice president of Communications and Community Affairs for the Miami Dolphins.

The ceremony closed with Motivational Moments performed by members of the graduating class and included an opera performance and spoken word.


Local Miami-Dade County elementary, middle and high schools recently earned $1,500 cash prizes for winning the annual Fairchild Challenge, which is a year-round education program created to encourage students to become environmentally conscious citizens.

For 17 years, the Fairchild Challenge at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables has reached more than 200,000 students each year through environment enrichment programs that are recognized as a benchmark for STEM education. This year, the winning schools were selected based on their scores in several challenges, including the Eco-atlas, School Garden, Growing Beyond Earth Initiative, Green Cuisine, Green Treasures, South Florida Native Habitats, Urban Garden Infomercial and Million Orchid Project.

The winning schools were honored at the annual awards event, and they included The Growing Place in Coral Gables, St. Kevin Catholic School in Miami, and iMater Preparatory Academy High School in Hialeah.