We often hear of the alleged desperate condition of education in the United States. To dispel that notion, all you have to do is serve on a scholarship committee that interviews high school seniors. Their academic and community accomplishments are extraordinary.
As a board member of Nina Haven Scholarships, I have interviewed hundreds of seniors from Martin County’s high schools. I come away from every interview with the overwhelming realization that, in the hands of these fine students, our future is secure.
In an increasing global market and a highly technological world, education is now, more than ever, the gateway to success. I’m proud to say that in Martin County, we are not just talking; we are taking action on behalf of our young people, their education, and their future.
For example, Nina Haven Scholarships is celebrating its 50th anniversary of awarding college scholarships to Martin County students. I have had the unique privilege of making many academic and professional careers possible through our annual scholarships.
Nina Haven scholarships and others like them change lives — forever. Students from all of our Martin County high schools are eligible for Nina Haven scholarships each year. There are currently 120 young people studying at colleges and universities across the country thanks to Nina Haven’s financial support.
The Education Foundation of Martin County vigorously supports not only students but also their teachers through professional development grants, teacher recognition, and classroom enrichment. The business community and committed individuals show their support by underwriting programs, serving as mentors, and welcoming students through shadowing programs and internships.
Recently the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute of Florida announced a program to enable our young people to spend a summer at VGTI, learning real-life research from with internationally renowned scientists in state-of-the-art labs. Termed SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Foundation), the internship program pays students a stipend to earn while they learn. Local community-minded organizations like Seacoast National Bank and The Martin County Community Foundation have already stepped forward to help fund this program.
The Martin County Business Development Board, clear in its intention to “stop the brain drain” of our best and brightest, is diligently pursuing programs such as a database of former Martin County residents whose skills and experience might be perfectly suited to the high-tech companies that have located in the area. The potential to be able to come back home, do well, and do good within the community is an additional motivation to our young people as they complete high school and pursue college and university degrees.
These programs represent just a few of the myriad efforts under way in our community. Our public/private partnerships are strongly supportive of parents, educators, and our young people. They demonstrate that in Martin County, we not only recognize the importance of education; we are doing something about it.
Lawrence E. Crary III, of the Stuart-based Crary Buchanan law firm, is a board member and volunteer for many local nonprofit organizations.