Over the past 20 years, Take Stock in Children Palm Beach has helped thousands of students move down the path to college completion. Our student data system shows 74% of our students complete college compared to the Florida average of 27% for students in poverty. Here are some of their incredible stories of success.
Wiclive Gentilhomme began her journey with Take Stock in Children Palm Beach as a sophomore and graduated in 2018 from Palm Beach State College with an AA degree. Wiclive started attending FAU in the Fall of 2018 and with a major in Biological Sciences. She says, “it is all thanks to Take Stock in Children that I have succeeded and come so far. I would like to thank Take Stock and the donors for their generosity and for the opportunity they enabled me to experience. College has been an unforgettable journey and I am honored to have had the privilege of experiencing it.”
Dr. Wilnic Gideon had to make a defining choice in his life. Follow the crowd that wasn’t doing well in high school or forge his own path to make sure he graduated. Wilnic choose transforming his life through the Take Stock in Children Palm Beach program. With the help of his mentor, family and with college on the horizon, Wilnic overcame the adversities and tough circumstances of his earlier life to successfully graduate from high school. Wilnic earned his bachelor’s degree from Florida State University where he majored in Secondary Mathematics. He went on to receive a Master’s Degree and Doctoral Degree from Lynn University. Now, he is an Assistant Principal at a Title I High School in Palm Beach County. Dr. Gideon says, “my greatest accomplishments include being selected as the Take Stock in Children Alumnus of the Year in 2014 for the State of Florida.”
Victoria Estevez is currently attending the University of South Florida to major in biomedical students. She was a 2018 Leaders 4 Life Fellow, earning a $40,000 college scholarship due to her perseverance and academic excellence. Victoria graduated Forest Hill High School in 2018, where she also served as president of her high school’s Health Occupations Club and as president of Students Against Melanoma. Victoria overcame adversity as she served as the primary caretaker for her great-grandmother and her grandmother who is battling cancer. She hopes to become a trauma surgeon.
Doris Laing joined Take Stock in Children Palm Beach when she was a quiet 14-year-old in 1996. Her mentor was Barbara Pariente, a judge on the Fourth District Court of Appeal. They forged a mentoring relationship through the Take Stock in Children Program, designed for low-income kids who show promise. In 2017, Barbara welcomed her mentee Doris into the legal profession – maintaining a close relationship for over 20 years. Judge Pariente attended Doris’s swearing in ceremony at the Florida Supreme Court.
Shakera Quincce is a Business Management graduate of the University of Central Florida. She currently works for Amazon.com as an Area Manager in Tracy, California. She is the second of seven siblings who were born and raised in West Palm Beach, FL. Due to her academic excellence through middle and high school, she was awarded the Take Stock in Children Scholarship that she used to pursue a bachelor’s degree at the University of Central Florida. While at the University of Central Florida, Shakera worked in the Blackstone Launchpad as an Entrepreneur Coach and founded a charity known as The Linen Project.
Wilkine Brutus is currently a digital reporter and web series producer for the Palm Beach Post. His journey with Take Stock in Children Palm Beach started due to his “self-determination, a stubborn will to succeed.” Wilkine spent four years in South Korea, teaching English and doing freelance media work. He was then a Content Director for a media startup company in Philadelphia. He says, “I was always a self-motivated child, but I strongly believe that the right social resources have helped me advance my life forward. Without the wonderful parenting from my mother and the life-long brotherhood from my Take Stock mentor, Frank Bobo, things would have been more difficult for me. Take Stock in Children, thank you for investing in my life.”
Ashley Serjilus is on a path leading toward reaching her dream of becoming a primary care physician. She’s a student at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN. Ashley graduated Take Stock in Children Palm Beach in 2012 and earned a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Miami in 2016. To round off her collegiate accomplishments, she was part of a group of students that was selected to be honored and chosen to be part of Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges. She was awarded Take Stock Palm Beach’s Alumnus of the Year in 2018.
Tekreshia Johnson is a true testament to how a guaranteed college scholarship and dedicated mentor can change the trajectory of a young student’s life. When Tekreshia entered high school, she had every odd against her including living in poverty and a tragic death in the family. Once accepted into Take Stock in Children, her mentor invested time in not only her educational life, but her personal life ensuring that she was a well-rounded young lady. Tekreshia enrolled at FAU and graduated with Bachelor of Science in Education. The final chapter of her educational journey is obtaining her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University. Now she is a Single School Culture Coordinator for the Palm Beach County School District. She is paying it forward by being a mentor for Take Stock in Children.
Ryan Ferguson entered Take Stock in Children Palm Beach as a 12-year-old with the dream to become a law enforcement officer. He graduated from high school in 2013 as a first-generation college student with the plan to attend Palm Beach State College for two years and then to transfer to Florida Atlantic University. However, five different advisers misguided him with course selection which resulted in a one-year delay in earning his AA degree. A TSIC College Retention Coach helped Ryan save valuable financial resources by connecting him with the Director of Student Affairs at FAU to assist with pursuing his education there as a better plan. Ryan says his mentor helped him move through the Police Academy with ease. He is now an Officer with the Jupiter Police Department.
Esther Benett grew up in Palm Beach County’s rural Glades community. At the young age of seven Esther lost her mother to a car accident and her father was left to take care of Esther and her four siblings. Her father struggled financially as a corn-picker; at times there was little to no food for dinner. Esther was a vibrant young lady, but did not have the resources to escape poverty and obtain a higher education. All of that changed when a guidance counselor at her school recommended her as a deserving applicant for the Take Stock in Children program. Esther graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor’s in Education and is currently a math teacher in Tallahassee while she pursues her master’s degree in education policy. Esther shares, “Take Stock in Children provided me with the one-on-one support I needed to achieve my academic dreams. Their daily guidance, promise of a college scholarship and mentoring helped mold me into the young woman I am today, they placed me on the path to success! I am a true witness of the impact that a caring person can have in the life of a child and for that I am forever grateful.”
Meher Farooq graduated from the University of Florida’s Honors Program cum laude in both her bachelor’s degrees in biology and sociology. During her undergraduate career, Meher took on a variety of leadership roles on campus. Meher rose to a national advocacy role when she served as a social advocacy chair and collegiate fellow for the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU). In regard to her medical career, Meher volunteered and shadowed in the pediatrics department at UF Health Shands Hospital and volunteered at RAHMA Mercy Clinic, a free-access clinic that provides medical services to the underserved and uninsured. After graduation, Meher returned to Palm Beach County and gave back to her home community in terms of education. She was a substitute teacher and did a year of service with the Literacy AmeriCorps of Palm Beach County, where she was a college readiness coach for Take Stock in Children Palm Beach County. Meher is forwarding her medical career as part of the Florida State University Medical School Class of 2020. She aims to continue paying it forward by studying Underserved Medicine.
Marie Sintulaire is a Haitian-American student from Belle Glade whose parents both work in agriculture to support her and her sister. Her mother sorts beans at a factory more than an hour away from her home, and her father fertilizes turf during the day on a local farm. Marie is Valedictorian of her Glades Central Community High School senior class while she is dual-enrolled full time at Palm Beach State College. She has accumulated more than 1,100 community service hours as she volunteers every day at an after-school program at her church. She plans to study finance with hopes of attending Florida State University. She wants to be a Forensic Accountant. Her goal in life is to make sure her parents and her home community are taken care of financially, so she no longer has to see them struggle to make ends meet.
Karla Saban is currently Student Teaching with The School District of Palm Beach County while studying at Florida Atlantic University. In addition to her Take Stock scholarship and a full ride from FAU, Karla was chosen as one of six 2017 ‘Leaders 4 Life’ fellows earning up to an additional $40,000 scholarship. She says, “Take Stock Palm Beach has taught me to overcome and break the cycle of poverty through education. The program made sure that I graduated high school and helped me to be the first one in my family to attend college”. Karla is also now paying it forward as a mentor with Take Stock Palm Beach as well as becoming a Certified Student Leader Intern at FAU Lead and Serve. She graduated from Lake Worth High School.
Esther Dorce was the first in her family to attend college. Now, her two younger sisters are following Esther’s same path through Take Stock in Children Palm Beach, all sharing the same mentor, a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Lieutenant. Esther graduated from Glades Central Community High School in the top of her class. She then majored in Accounting at Florida International University before heading back to Belle Glade where she spent time as an Accounting tutor at Palm Beach State College and a tax preparer at H&R Block. Today, Esther is working at a CPA firm in Deerfield Beach while she plans to take the CPA exam. She hopes to obtain her license by 2020. Esther says, “my Take Stock in Children mentor remains a part of my family. When it comes to education, she continues to be our number one cheerleader. I’m grateful for the opportunity Take Stock has given me as the first in my family to attend college.”
Xiara Del Valle is a Lynn University graduate. She chose to pursue both Political Science and Fashion & Retail, with a minor in Social Impact. Following a mission trip to Rwanda, Xiara was inspired to help women & children fight poverty here at home. With the help of friends, she co-founded the nonprofit “It’s H.E.R Business”. The program creates message-based upcycled denim jackets, with all proceeds benefiting women & youth.
Matthew Narcisse joined Take Stock in Children Palm Beach in 9th grade. Matthew overcame extreme obstacles, including homelessness. Through Take Stock Palm Beach, he was able to turn his attention to academics with the help of his mentor by his side. Matthew graduated from Lake Worth High School in 2019 with a 4.14 GPA. He attends the University of Florida with both a full academic scholarship from U.F. along with a housing scholarship. He is studying engineering.
In a message to his fellow scholars, Matthew says, “We owe it to Take Stock ‘to break the cycle of poverty’ by excelling in our post-secondary education and dedicating ourselves to purposes greater than ourselves. This involves giving back to our community by becoming doctors who save lives, lawyers who defend the innocent, and engineers who build the very world we live in.”