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FDOE: Top STEM Students Honored at 2024 Sunshine State Scholars Conference


Florida - Friday May 10, 2024: The Florida Department of Education recognized academic excellence at the 27th annual Sunshine State Scholars conference held in Orlando last weekend. The event spotlighted the state’s outstanding 11th-grade students in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

More than 111 student-scholars and their families were in attendance during the two-day event, co-hosted by the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Education Foundation. 37 students were awarded 1-year scholarships provided by State Farm and the Florida Prepaid College Foundation.

“The Sunshine State Scholars program recognizes Florida’s brightest STEM students and their outstanding achievements in STEM education,” said Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. “I extend my highest appreciation for their dedication and hard work, and I am hopeful these scholars will continue their postsecondary education in Florida and succeed throughout their academic journey.” 

“State Farm is committed to helping nurture students’ creativity and sparking their imagination through STEM,” said State Farm Enterprise Technology Manager Kevin Reeves. “We encourage students to enter STEM fields and become lifelong learners, while simultaneously contributing to a dynamic global society.” 

“Our goal at Florida Prepaid College Foundation is to give aspiring students the opportunity to build a better future for themselves and our state,” said Director of the Florida Prepaid College Foundation Cynthia O’Connell. “We are thrilled to once again partner on the Sunshine State Scholars scholarship program and we congratulate these students and their families for their incredible dedication and impressive academic achievements.” 

Selected by Florida school districts as the top 11th-grade STEM students, these scholars and their families participated in an exciting program designed to connect them with Florida’s postsecondary education institutions and STEM-focused employers. This year, the scholars engaged in a dynamic “think tank,” tackling challenging Florida issues through problem-solving activities and expert presentations. Each scholar also received a new iPad courtesy of AT&T, and SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment generously provided tickets for a day of fun and leisure. 

The 2024 Sunshine State Scholars also had the opportunity to interact with representatives from Florida’s premier higher education institutions, including the Florida University System, Florida College System and the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida. These sessions covered topics such as college funding, interactive panel discussions with STEM professionals, and the multitude of educational opportunities available in Florida. 

The Department congratulated each scholar during the event and presented 37 students with 1-year scholarships to attend Florida’s top-ranked higher education institutions. The 2024 Sunshine State Scholars scholarship winners are:

  • Herlandy Marcelin, St. Lucie
  • Joyce Huang, Alachua
  • Ava Rose Manalo, Baker
  • Nivaiah Foster, Bradford
  • Aneesha Guna, Brevard
  • Krisztina Tolotti, Broward
  • Ava Louise Hall, Charlotte
  • Joshua Martin Sevilla, Citrus
  • Casper Khan-Bridgers, Collier
  • Bailey Mathews, Collier
  • Sophia Lin, Duval
  • McClain Marie Stroud, FAMU Lab School
  • Angelina Manjarres, Flagler
  • Keegan Flury, FSU Lab School
  • Jordan C. Pippin, Gulf
  • Enrique Acosta, Hendry
  • Katelyn Carlsen, Hernando
  • Miyaz Ansari, Hillsborough
  • James Watt, Hillsborough
  • Ezekiel Dube-Garrett, Lee
  • Sophia Dupeyron, Lee
  • Juliette Shuler, Liberty
  • Sheena Kurakula, Manatee
  • Maia D. Gueron, Miami-Dade
  • Katerina Kring, Orange
  • Jennifer Han, Palm Beach
  • Diana Bisekeeva, Pasco
  • Karolina Porcelli, Pasco
  • Sahil Ande, Polk
  • Madalene Grace Hodge, Putnam
  • Caden Walker Crow, Santa Rosa
  • Ananya Kakayadi, Sarasota
  • Josephine Danielle Lim, Seminole
  • Daniel Benton, St. Johns
  • Lily Marie-Pinder Caldwell, UF Lab School
  • Noah Isaacson, Volusia
  • Genna Dietrich, Wakulla

The 2024 Sunshine State Scholars conference was made possible through the support of the Florida Education Foundation and generous sponsors, including State Farm, Florida Prepaid College Foundation, AT&T, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Florida Lottery, Kyra Solutions, Helios Education Foundation, TECO, Limitless Solutions and School Choice. 
For further information about the Sunshine State Scholars program and the 2024 conference, please visit