Hispanic Heritage Essay Contest

Foundation awards college scholarships to Hispanic Heritage Month winners


Three Florida students can now attend four years at a Florida college for free after writing winning essays about Hispanic Americans and their contributions to our state.

The Florida Prepaid College Foundation recently awarded 4-Year Florida College Plan scholarships to the elementary, middle and high school winners of the Governor’s Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Essay Contest.

“The caliber of the essay responses were exceptional, with the winning students truly grasping the accomplishments made by these Hispanic American heroes,” said Florida Prepaid College Foundation Director, Cynthia O’Connell.

This is the 14th year that the Florida Prepaid College Foundation has awarded scholarships to Hispanic Heritage Month Essay Contest winners.

“It has been a longstanding sponsorship that we are proud to support,” O’Connell said.

If you purchase a Florida Prepaid Plan and your child receives a scholarship, you can get a refund for the same amount as the plan would pay a public college or university in Florida.

The winning students were Ayan Nallamshetty, a fifth-grader from Tampa; Charleigh Wood, a sixth-grader from Dade City; and Lina Neraas, a 12th-grader from Panama City.

Neraas focused her essay on the contributions of Maria Mestre Delores de los Andrue, who in 1860 became St. Augustine’s first female Hispanic American lighthouse keeper.

“Andue’s accomplishments have stood as a beacon for the empowerment and opportunity of women and Hispanic-Americans in Florida, showing that physical and social limitations can be overcome by hard work and willingness to learn,” Neraas wrote. You can read the rest of her essay here, Nallamshetty’s essay here, and Wood’s essay here.

Chancellor of the Florida College System and Foundation Board Member Madeline Pumariega emceed the reception for winners at the Governor’s Mansion.

The Florida Prepaid College Foundation was proud to work with Volunteer Florida, Department of Education and the Executive Office of the Governor who coordinated logistics of the event.

Hispanic Heritage Month contest entries are due each September. Learn more about the contest at http://www.floridahispanicheritage.com/student-contests/.

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A local student's way with words earned her statewide recognition and scholarship money.

Lina Neraas, Arnold High School senior, moved to Panama City Beach this past summer from Georgia.

She said her Spanish class entered an essay contest for Hispanic Heritage Month.

Neraas won the High School Category for her work.

The theme of the essay was, "A Recognition of the Role of Hispanic-Americans in Shaping Florida Today."

She said she wrote about Maria Mestre de los Dolores Andreu, the first woman to be a United States lighthouse keeper in Florida.

"She lived in Saint Augustine and it was a difficult job to have, but it was important for people who were sailing out in ships," Neraas said.

Neraas earned a four-year scholarship to a state college and a visit to the Governor's Mansion.

She said she plans on attending Gulf Coast State College and possibly pursuing writing or linguistics.

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