Posted June 21, 2022 | 3:28 PM
Middle and high school students honored for leadership, volunteerism, and success despite difficult odds
Every year, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners’ Youth Excellence and Achievement (YEA!) Awards recognize young peoples’ positive contributions in three categories: Leadership, Volunteer or Community Service, and Success Despite Difficult Odds. Selected by the Hillsborough County Commission on the Status of Women, these individuals are examples of how young people can dedicate themselves to improving their community and shape its future.
The Board of County Commissioners honored all the winners during its June 15 meeting. During the presentation, the following six students were recognized for their initiative, innovation, and commitment to Hillsborough County.
- Brenna McGuire, Tinker Middle School
McGuire participated in numerous leadership roles, including serving as an officer in the Future Business Leaders of America, managing editor of the Tinker K-8 yearbook, and a team leader in the Anchored 4 Life program, which helps military children with transition and change. As an A4L team leader, she helped recruit representatives, lead meetings, plan activities, and participated in two community service projects.
- Ashton Kitchiner, Newsome High School
An AP scholar with Honors, a member of the National Honor Society, and part of the executive leadership of the Rho Kappa Honor Society, Kitchiner earned his Associate of Arts degree from Hillsborough Community College and will graduate with a weighted GPA of 7.77. Ashton is owner of ALK Enterprises, LLC. and he will be attending the University of Florida in the fall where he will be studying business and entrepreneurship, partly funded by his @BoatsDirect Instagram page, which presently has nearly 93,000 followers.
Volunteer or Community Service
- Benjamin Mallin, Coleman Middle School
A lover of all sports, Mallin reached out to the Tampa Bay Sports Commission in December to request the designation of Replay Tampa Bay as his beneficiary for his Bar Mitzvah project. His request resulted in a Replay Tampa Bay record of 800-plus sporting goods items and about $1,800 to support underprivileged youth in the community. He additionally participates in the Best Buddies program, the Buddy Baseball organization, Metropolitan Ministries, and has hosted lemonade stands to raise money for victims of natural disasters, religious hate crimes, and cancer research.
- Emily Moore-Shrieves, Bloomingdale High School
Moore-Shrieves graduated with her Associate of Arts degree from Hillsborough Community College before the high school awarded her diploma. She currently has 330 hours of community service, many of which were dedicated to the Art Factory, A Kid’s Place, and Metropolitan Ministries. After graduating as valedictorian and senior class president from Bloomingdale, she will attend Harvard University as a political science major, with a minor in international relations or economics.
Success Despite Difficult Odds
- Jae’Shaun Santos, Franklin Boys Prep
After early personal struggles in and outside school, including a period of homelessness with his family, Santos took gifted classes, received academic awards and has been on the High Honor Roll. He is captain of his AAU Basketball team and is a dedicated and active participant in the LAB, the Learning Academy of Basketball, which teaches lessons in life through the sport.
- Kevin Ibarias Nanez, Lennard High School
At the age of 13, Nanez, in addition to his mother and sister, emigrated from Mexico to escape a violent domestic situation. With a limited knowledge of English, he worked hard and exited from the English as a Second Language program and took honors classes and Advanced International Certificate of Education courses, achieving an overall District GPA of 4.0. He would like to be in the criminal justice and law enforcement fields.
During the presentation, Tony Selvaggio, founder of eSmart Recycling in Tampa, donated laptop computers to all the recipients for their hard work and dedication to service to the community.
The Board also presented a proclamation declaring June 19 as Juneteenth National Freedom Day.
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