Monday, November 18, 2013

TSIC Alumni Jake Rosenzweig's Success Story

Before, I was just a boy with a dream. Now, I am a man with a plan. My dream in life was to build a snowboarding shop in Alaska to let all of my friends snowboard for free. Now I am a well-educated University of Florida graduate pursuing a career in biomedical engineering. It was my mentor, Sheldon Friedman, who helped make my way of thinking – my way of living – more realistic. Over our eleven year adventure through life together, it has been such a unique journey for the both of us. I have matured well beyond my years because of his guidance and wisdom, and still for some reason he claims to have gained just as much from me as I have from him. As Shelson always says, “It’s not WHAT you know – it’s WHO you know.”
My parents divorced when I was six and I stayed with my mother – a wonderful and loving woman. She always made sure that the bills were paid and that my two younger brothers and I were well fed.  At the age of eleven, I was enrolled in Take Stock in Children and assigned a mentor Sheldon. When Sheldon’s wife read the letter that Sheldon would be mentoring Jake Rosenzweig, her heart dropped a few feet – her maiden name was also Rosenzweig (spelled exactly the same way too!). We were off to a good start! I would meet Sheldon once a week at school, where he brought me lunch. Oh, how I savored those Subway subs and chocolate milk! It was during these meetings that he would ask about my life.   It is with my infinite gratitude that he has shared his experiences with me as well. What I liked most about our meetings is that he never tried to make me into something I didn’t want to be. He knew I wanted to be a scientist. As he always says, “Youth mustn’t be molded, but unfolded.”
Sheldon has given me a significant portion of the momentum needed to achieve my academic goals. I dual enrolled at Florida State College at Jacksonville while attending my senior year of high school and earned my Associate’s soon thereafter. I transferred to the University of Florida and graduated cum laude with my B.S. in chemistry, with minors in education and classical studies
A few months after I graduated my mother became very sick with brain cancer. She passed away earlier this year and in the slowest and most deteriorating way imaginable. Sheldon and his wife visited me and my mother in hospice during the roughest of times, but they made all the difference. My mentor gave me the confidence I needed to tie up all unfinished legal business: guardianship of my brother who has cerebral palsy, refinancing the mortgage, managing hospital bills, child support, SSI, utility bills, etc. Despite the recent changes in life, Sheldon helped me cope with my situation. He made me realize that not just anyone has the strength or optimism to carry on, but I made him realize that he has instilled those qualities in me. As he always says, “If not you, then who? If not now, then when?”
Jake Rosenzweig agreed to meet the requirements for a Take Stock in Children Scholarship in 6th grade, graduated from Duncan U. Fletcher High School and graduated from Florida State College at Jacksonville with an Associate’s Degree and from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry. He works as a full-time tutor in math and chemistry and is planning to return to earn an advanced degree in research and neurobiology

TSIC Alumni Lucero Carillo-Moctezuma's Success Story

When I was in the 8th grade at Forest Grove Middle School, I kept telling myself:  “If you really want to have a professional career you must first set goals.”  I knew I needed to finish high school and graduate from college to follow my dreams. I was well aware that life is not easy, and that I must do everything I could to continue my studies.

A wonderful opportunity came my way when I received the offer of a college scholarship through the Indian River State College Foundation and signed an agreement with Take Stock in Children.  Take Stock in Children is a state-wide non-profit organization that provides scholarship support, mentors and hope for low-income young people.  To receive a Take Stock in Children college scholarship, I had to promise to earn good grades, meet with my mentor, remain drug and crime free, and graduate from high school. I wholeheartedly agreed.
I graduated from Westwood High School in Fort Pierce with high honors and enrolled at Indian River State College.  What a journey IRSC has been for me! My parents are agricultural workers and I am a first generation in college student and the first in my family to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree. It has been a challenge, but with the support of my instructors, advisors, mentors and parents, I have been able to fulfill my dreams of attaining higher education.
I earned two business certificates, an Associate in Arts degree, an Associate in Science degree in Business Administration, and most recently was awarded a Bachelor in Applied Science degree in Organizational Management. The professors at IRSC emphasized the importance of effective management at all levels. We were encouraged to share experiences and practices to develop a more profound understanding of organizational management and the ability to apply what we have learned on the job.  
That philosophy worked. I was promoted to the Value Adjustment Board Finance Department with the Clerk of the Circuit Court in St. Lucie County. At 22, I am pursuing an MBA at Nova Southeastern University. I could not have done this without the skills I learned at IRSC, and I am very grateful for the support I received from the IRSC Foundation, Farm Workers Program and Take Stock in Children.
Take Stock in Children has opened doors to a brighter future for me and thousands of others.  With the support and coordination of the IRSC Foundation and area school districts, over 300 local Take Stock in Children recipients have continued to college and 256 are currently enrolled in the program while in high school.  Take Stock in Children recipients have attained a high school graduation rate of 92%, which is significantly higher than Florida’s average high school graduation rate.  
Community contributions help support Take Stock in Children and volunteer mentors help each awardee stay on track.  Each of us has a unique story, but there is a common thread -  how Take Stock in Children provided us with an incentive to study hard and stay out of trouble, how we are graduating from college, launching successful careers and supporting our families.
Lucero Carillo-Moctezuma agreed to meet the requirements for a Take Stock in Children Scholarship in 8th grade, graduated from Westwood H.S and graduated from IRSC in 2010 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management. She is employed with the Value Adjustment Board of the St. Lucie County Clerk’s Office and pursing an MBA. 

TSIC Alum Cody Wolfgang Fenech's Success Story

Dear Anne Everly, Steve Primus, TSIC Foundation, and affiliates
It’s almost funny how children think about the world. They look at the world as a place of possibility, wonder, and excitement. It is not to say that their lives are without strife, but to them, the future is in the palm of their hand. Ironically, a child that puts an adequate amount of thought into their future is seldom found. They do not worry about finances, about job applications, about grade point averages. This ideology seems to be carried on for much of their teenage years, until these dilemmas are knocking on their door.

This is how many of my peers and I felt about the future until we had reached our junior or senior years. For me, it had been apparent for much of my life, that my family was not a family of privilege, wealth, or social connections. I had been without a father for much of my childhood, and my mother worked low paying jobs just to keep a roof over our heads and the bills paid. I had never felt unlucky however. My mother had raised me the best she could, and had always shown me that she loved me more than any parent could.
Love, unfortunately, cannot pay college tuition.
That is where TSIC came in. In the 9th grade I wrote an essay, as did hundreds of other students, to apply for the TSIC scholarship. As a 14 year old, I didn’t observe much of what was going on, and didn’t give much heed to the ensuing events that came after I submitted my essay. Sometime after, my family was invited to a ceremony at the Viera Stadium. As my mother read the invitation, her face lit up with joy, and I could have sworn I saw the beginning of tears well in her eyes. She turned to me, a grin spreading across her face. She explained the best she could the amazing opportunity I just received, but of course, being a child I merely thought, “That’s cool”. Over the ensuing years however, it became abundantly clear what a blessing that the TSIC scholarship truly was.

I was introduced to mentors and coaches, and compassionate people that empathized with what I was going through, before I even knew myself.
This letter is to those people like Anne Everly, Steve Primus, and the kind of people that looked at poverty level kids that had no chance of a real future and said “No, everyone deserves a chance.”
You were there for me when I stumbled; you guided me when I didn’t know where to go. You gave me the sort of advantage that helped me overcome the adversity that I was gifted with since birth.
I will be frank with you, in high school I had become a mediocre student, but you wouldn’t have any of that! My grades, my study habits, and my over support improved. My GPA rose from 2.5 to 2.7 to 2.9 until I graduated in 2011 with a GPA of 3.1. It was at that moment I really began to gain some retrospect. As I clasped my hand around that diploma, giving Principal Cool a firm handshake with the other, I looked back at the road I was headed down, and the future that would have been in store for me if I had not received this scholarship.
I became truly determined to reach the peak of potential that I had after receiving this scholarship. As of today, 10/2/2012, I am majoring in Computer Science as a full-time student at Brevard Community College, maintaining a GPA of 3.5+, and have made the Dean’s List every semester. I work part-time at a call center, while simultaneously taking care of my aging grandmother and mother. To this day I continue to work harder to raise my GPA, to achieve within my job, and to reach the level of responsibility that signifies true adulthood.
While my achievements may not equate to moving mountains, I feel that the difference between what I have achieved, and what I would have achieved is enormous. I can do nothing but sincerely thank those that work at the TSIC foundation. You have given me the means to go to college, to get an education, and truly make something of myself.
So those who doubt the effectiveness of this program, or the impact on the community; I implore you to take a step back for a moment, and just observe the impact on an individual level.
This foundation is one of the few that I have seen whose objective is truly altruistic. To educate children so that they may improve not only their lives, but the lives of those around them. With more education, communities will improve, counties, states and so on. As I finish up my education, and receive employment in my field, be assured I will never forget how TSIC, its scholarships, and more importantly how its volunteers have changed my life. Furthermore, you can bet I will be back soon enough, to become one of those volunteers, or those donors; ready to help a child such as myself one day, because I truly know what a difference it has made.

With tears in my eyes, I can only say again; thank you. Thank you with all of my heart, for not only giving me a future, but restoring part of the child-like outlook, because I have learned now what many adults have lost as they grow older; The future is a place of possibility, wonder, and excitement. You just have to go out there, and make it happen.

TSIC recipient,
Cody Wolfgang Fenech

TSIC Alum Ha Tran's Story of Success

As one of the inaugural Take Stock In Children Leaders 4 Life Fellows, Ha Tran is currently attending Duke University, where she is pursuing a Neuroscience major and a Global Health minor. With her passion for international health care, Ha hopes to serve the global community as a medical physician in the future. As a proud 2011 graduate of Pace High School, Ha reflects back on her Take Stock In Children experience and attributes much of her success to her mentors and her TSIC family. 

When Ha was 3 years old, her family immigrated to the United States from Vietnam when her father was awarded the prestigious Fulbright scholarship. Through the journey, Ha discovered that education has the power to change lives. She witnessed her parents work 18-hour days to be able to stay in this country, where they knew Ha and her older sister would be able to get a quality education. For Ha's family, education was the key to a better life and the opportunity to get an education was one to be treasured. 

At Duke, Ha is kept busy with classes and her independent research project on the effects of stress on hippocampal and hypothalamic neurogenesis. She also works as a Vietnamese translator, volunteers at the Duke Hospital, and serves as editor for an undergraduate research journal. In her spare time, Ha enjoys having late-night conversations with her friends as they try to navigate their early 20's together and find answers to life's greatest questions. Ha's experiences outside the classroom have shown her that education is not only limited to a textbook, but rather the opportunity to learn is in every country, every experience, and every new conversation.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Mentor Spotlight

Mentor Spotlight: Zabrina PentonZabrina Penton is a wife, mother, career woman, and mentor. She chose to become a Take Stock in Children mentor for the Volusia County program because she felt that it was a great way of helping students stay focused in school and succeed in a career. She also found it to be a great way of giving back to the community. Zabrina and her family say it is very important to be involved in the community by making a positive impact on childrens’ lives. One of the main things that attracted Zabrina to mentoring for Take Stock in Children was that she knew firsthand the importance of going to college and earning a degree. Click here to read the full story. As a mentor,  Zabrina says, not only is she able to develop a great relationship with her mentee, Tomaree, but she earns a valuable life experience through helping her mentee get one step closer to achieving her academic goals. As a TSIC scholar, Tomaree will have the opportunity to get a scholarship that will help pay for college as well as the fact that it will open doors for her future personally and professionally. As someone who was once a student herself, Zabrina can relate to her mentee. She knows how overwhelming the process of choosing the right college and career can be. Zabrina remembers when she was in high school and wanted to be a doctor or an architect. But in the end, she graduated with a degree in civil engineering. Zabrina had a high school teacher who was like a mentor, not only for her, but for numerous students. This teacher helped with the process of applying for college and learning about different career opportunities, also making them aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Zabrina will never forget how helpful it was to have somebody available and able to answer all the questions. 

Zabrina and her husband, Demian, have resided in Deland, FL for the last seven years. Zabrina and her husband have two children: Marco (5) and Victoria (10 months). Marco is in kindergarten and practices martial arts. Victoria is a very happy and active baby. Her husband works as an independent Financial Adviser, and Zabrina works for The State of Florida’s Department of Transportation as a Traffic Professional Engineer. They enjoy going camping, bike riding, running, walking, and traveling as a family.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

TSIC Alum Stephen Helwig's Story

TSIC Alum Stephen Helwig
Take Stock in Children Director of Alumni Affairs, Kevin Bulger, recently had the opportunity to speak with TSIC alum Stephen Helwig. Stephen’s story is an excellent example of how TSIC continues to shape lives. Read the full interview below:
Take Stock: Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Where did you grow up? Where did you go to college and what did you study?
Stephen Helwig: I was born in Jamaica and moved to the United States when I was eight years old. Until 7th grade I lived in Boynton Beach, just south of West Palm. At the start of 7th grade my family moved to Palm Bay, FL and I attended Covenant Christian School. Eventually I switched to West Shore Junior/Senior High School in my sophomore year. I received the Take Stock in Children scholarship in the 11th grade. At first I did not receive a mentor, but I was very fortunate to be matched with one during my senior year.
I attended Brevard Community College (BCC) and received my AA degree; afterwards I moved to Orlando and attended the University of Central Florida (UCF). In 2007 I got my bachelors degree in Management Information Systems (MIS) from UCF.
TS: What has been your career path after college? Can you tell us about your current job?
SH: After I moved to Orlando in 2006 to finish my college degree, I began looking for internships and entry level positions before I finished my college coursework. I was fortunate enough to have a friend who was interning at Siemens, which is an international electronics and electrical engineering firm with their Energy Division US headquarters in Orlando. He told me that Siemens was looking for student interns with MIS majors, and, with his help, I was able to secure an internship there, which later turned into a full time position.
In total, I worked at Siemens for 6 years and made my way up the ladder to become a Level 2 IT Architect. However, the farther I moved up the chain at Siemens the less they asked their employees to develop their technical skills, which was a skill set I still wanted to develop. I also wanted to transition from internal IT support, to working on a product that was a revenue stream for the company. This led me to accept my current position as IT Architect at Silverpop, which is based in Atlanta, GA. At Silverpop, I get the opportunity to further expand my technical skills building an email marketing solution using cutting edge cloud and web technologies.
TS: When did you first become involved in Take Stock in Children?
SH: My guidance counselor at West Shore actually brought it to my attention during an English class. At first I brushed it off and didn’t pay any attention to her. But she persisted, called my family, and eventually I was forced to sign up. A year later I found out that I received this scholarship.
TS: Who was your mentor? Can you talk about your relationship with your mentor?
SH: Dyer Matlock was my mentor. In the beginning, I wasn’t paired with a mentor, and, at first, I didn’t think I needed a mentor because I thought only the kids who got into trouble got mentors. I was never a kid who got into trouble. But, in my senior year, I was paired with Dyer who has become a lifelong friend and role model for me. In the beginning, we met once a week and after high school graduation we would work on cars together and do woodworking together. Over time he became like a family member to me and we still talk regularly over the phone. In fact, he and his wife are planning to make a visit to Atlanta to see me and my wife. We’re looking forward to their visit!
TS: Would you say Take Stock in Children impacted your life? How so?
SH: Take Stock in Children impacted my life in many different facets. First, Take Stock introduced me to Dyer, who as I mentioned, is someone who I will be friends with for the rest of our lives. Second, the scholarship got me on track to obtain a degree and not get burdened by student debt. I only had to take out loans to pay for my living expenses while at UCF, which was very minimal. This investment also had a great impact on my family because with my college tuition paid for, it allowed my mother to help afford my brother’s college expenses. In the end we were both able to get jobs and improve our family’s future prospects.

Take Stock congratulates Stephen on all of his accomplishments, as he stands as a real role model for current TSIC students!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

TSIC Alumna Crystal Chapman-Lambert Delivers Commencement Address at USF

Take Stock In Children Alumna and University of South Florida College of Nursing BS-PhD student, Crystal L. Chapman-Lambert, MS, FNP-BC, ACRN, AAHIVSdelivered the commencement address to more than 730 graduates and their friends and family during the student address at the USF Commencement Ceremony on May 4, 2013. 

Crystal graduated from USF with her BSN and just finished this semester with her BS-PhD in Nursing.  We are so very proud of Crystal’s accomplishments and how she has demonstrated that, with hard work and dedication, you can do anything that you put your mind to. Kristy Scott, Take Stock In Children’s Marketing Manager, had the opportunity to interview Crystal about her experience as a Take Stock scholar, and this is what she had to say:

What Take Stock in Children program did you graduate from?
Sarasota County, I received the scholarship in 7th grade and graduated from Sarasota High School in 2002.

Who was your mentor? Can you provide some details of that mentor relationship?
Bonnie and Jack Harrison. Bonnie is a retired nurse and Jack is a Pulitzer Prize winner and retired Vice President of the New York Times Company. The Harrisons came into my life during my 10th grade year. After three mentors, I really did not want to open up to another mentor, but now they will not go away (this is just a joke). They are not only my mentors, they have become my family. I can call them to say hello or whenever I need advice. Even to this day – 12 years later, we have conversations at least once a month and they are always there for me.

Do you think mentoring is an important factor in the TSIC program?
The financial award from the TSIC program is great, but the mentorship is priceless. I know that my family is interested in my success, but to have strangers take a vested interested in my success gave me extra motivation plus invaluable advice, perspective and guidance.

What are your aspirations after receiving your PhD?
I have so many opportunities. My dream is to educate the next generation of nurses and nurse practitioners, conduct research that advances the science of nursing and improves healthcare outcomes, and manage the healthcare needs of individuals infected with HIV.

What were your biggest obstacles graduating high school and how did you overcome them?
My biggest obstacle graduating from high school was staying motivated. "Senioritis" is not a myth but it is just a state of mind that many seniors must overcome to succeed. During my senior year, I only needed two courses to graduate so that left me unmotivated to attend classes. My mentors just kept me going and kept reminding me my whole world would open up soon as I entered college - they were right! I had help overcoming my obstacles. My mother and my mentors constantly encouraged me to continue.

What is advice would you give to other TSIC students? 
I would tell TSIC students to set goals, short and long term, and take steps to accomplish those goals. Also, I would tell them failure is a normal part of success. Do not be afraid to fail, but be afraid of giving up!

TSIC Alumna Samantha Hartman's Story of Success

Samantha Hartman, a 2005 alumna from the Take Stock in Children Polk County Program, doesn't let obstacles get in the way of achieving her goals. Diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma (a soft tissue cancer found in her left foot) in middle school, Samantha underwent two chemo treatments and two surgeries. Cancer was just one of the many obstacles Samantha had to conquer to achieve her academic goals. Her parents advised her when she was in 10th grade that if she wanted to attend college, she would need to find a way to pay for it. 

 Through her involvement with the Take Stock in Children program in Polk County, serious academic study, and the support of her mentor and program director Theresa Choquette, Samantha was able to graduate from college without any student loans. After college, Samantha participated in a yearlong fellowship with the John Jay Institute in Philadelphia, PA. Currently, Samantha is the legislative aide for Senator Kelli Stargel (R) of Lakeland in the Florida Senate. Paying it forward, this young alumna mentors a group of four 10th grade students through her church sharing her time and wisdom to build a solid support network. Her future aspirations include teaching college classes, becoming a school principal and being involved in education policy. 

 Her advice to other students in the Take Stock in Children program is a favorite quote from Thomas Edison -- "Many people miss 'opportunity' because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work." Samantha adds, "Be a hard worker, not so others will notice you, but so that you are a person of integrity and character."

Monday, May 13, 2013

Teacher's Appreciation Tribute

So in case you were not aware, last week was Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week.  I wrote a specific piece about one of my favorite teachers that I would like to share with you.

Since it is Teacher and Staff appreciation week, I decided to share a write up of a teacher that helped me while I was in elementary school.  For my fifth grade year because we moved, I had the option of going to the neighborhood school or finishing off at my current elementary school.  I didn't really like going to the other side of town for school and wanted a change so my parents allowed me to go to the school nearby.  

My fifth grade year was exciting because it was my last year in elementary school before I went to middle school.  The year started off great, I made a few new friends and even got elected to be on the school newspaper.  Then as the school year went forward, there was a shift of how I was received by my peers.  Because I really didn't know how to handle rejection, when things hurt my feelings I would cry.  This behavior made me a target for getting picked on.  One day my teacher brought to my attention that I needed to learn how to take some responsibility in my altercations\instead of always playing the victim role.  She would point out to me how my attitude affected the way others would treat me, but more importantly was the portrayal of how I felt about myself.  Mrs. Jones inspired me to push myself and to take chances.  It was because of her that I participated in the black history month program where I played the part of Harriet Tubman (Improv) and it was also because of her that I got my act together and pulled all my grades up.
There have been many great teachers in my lifetime, but Mrs. Jones is one that will always be the one that goes down in my teacher’s hall of fame.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Take Stock In Children Salutes Top Volunteer Mentor

In celebration of National Volunteer Week, Take Stock in Children honored one of 7,500 Florida volunteer mentors with the organization's most prestigious award. Dr. Charles Voorhis was honored as Take Stock in Children's 2013 Mentor of the Year at a ceremony earlier this year.
A retired physician, Dr. Voorhis got involved with his local Take Stock in Children program in Bay County. Like all Take Stock mentors, Voorhis has worked diligently to "change a life over lunch" with the students he mentors. His weekly meetings with his students help to keep them focused on graduating from high school and attending college. Voorhis' caring nature did not stop with motivating his students to excel in education- Johnny Atwell 's personal life was also significantly impacted by the Mentor of the Year.
Atwell was in a serious automobile accident after graduation- one that left him paralyzed and unable to walk. Mentor Voorhis guided Atwell and his family through the maze of medical resources available and helped them access needed financial support. He faithfully visited Atwell in the hospital and in his handicapped-accessible apartment. After a year of recovery and therapy, Atwell entered Gulf State College and Voorhis couldn't be prouder.
"The bond formed between volunteer mentors and students is a lasting and transformational one," said Dan Lyons, interim CEO of Take Stock in Children. "We are proud to honor Dr. Voorhis, and all of our 7,500 volunteer mentors for their commitment to higher education and Florida's at-risk youth."

Friday, April 12, 2013

Scholar Spotlight: Laura Gomez

Laura Gomez, an honor student from George Jenkins High School, was selected in 10th grade by the Polk Education Foundation’s Take Stock in Children scholarship mentoring program to receive a Ronald McDonald House Charities/Tampa Bay Florida Prepaid tuition scholarship valued at approximately $5500.
As a senior this year, Laura has continued to apply for scholarships and is now a national finalist for the Bill and Melinda Gates Scholarship and was recently selected by Florida Southern College as one of five George Jenkins Scholars who will receive a full scholarship for all unmet financial need, including room and board, when she starts in the fall. The scholarship also includes $2,000 per semester living stipend. Rounding out the package with her Bright Futures, State scholarships and PELL grants, Laura has set her sights on a Masters degree in Nursing.
Congratulations on all of your accomplishments, Laura. We are so proud of you!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

SAT versus ACT

Pepsi versus Coke
Cowboys versus Indians
Disney versus Nickelodeon

SAT versus ACT

As College Success Coaches, we often get asked which is better, the SAT (Standardized Achievement Test) or the ACT (American College Testing) for college admissions?  Colleges will accept either the SAT or ACT. So which should you take?  Below is advice from test prep aficionado, the Princeton Review:

It's all about the numbers. Some students end up scoring substantially higher on the SAT; others do better on the ACT. In lieu of a crystal ball, we created The Princeton Review Assessment (PRA) designed to help you determine which test is better fit with your abilities.

To help you zero in on the right exam, here are seven key differences:

1.     ACT questions tend to be more straightforward

ACT questions are often easier to understand on a first read. On the SAT, you may need to spend time figuring out what you're being asked before you can start solving the problem. For example, here are sample questions from the SAT essay and the ACT writing test (their name for the essay):

SAT: What is your view of the claim that something unsuccessful can still have some value?
ACT: In your view, should high schools become more tolerant of cheating?

2.     The SAT has a stronger emphasis on vocabulary

If you're an ardent wordsmith, you'll love the SAT. If words aren't your thing, you may do better on the ACT.

3.     The ACT has a Science section, while the SAT does not

You don't need to know anything about amoebas or chemical reactions for the ACT Science section. It is meant to test your reading and reasoning skills based upon a given set of facts. But if you're a true science-phobe, the SAT might be a better fit.

4.     The ACT tests more advanced math concepts

In addition to basic arithmetic, algebra I and II, and geometry, the ACT tests your knowledge of trigonometry, too. That said, the ACT Math section is not necessarily harder, since many students find the questions to be more straightforward than those on the SAT.

5.     The ACT Writing Test is optional on test day, but required by many schools

The 25-minute SAT essay is required and is factored into your writing score. The 30-minute ACT writing test is optional. If you choose to take it, it is not included in your composite score — schools will see it listed separately. Many colleges require the writing section of the ACT, so be sure to check with the schools where you are applying before opting out.

6.     The SAT is broken up into more sections

On the ACT, you tackle each content area (English, Math, Reading and Science) in one big chunk, with the optional writing test at the end. On the SAT, the content areas (Critical Reading, Math and Writing) are broken up into 10 sections, with the required essay at the beginning. You do a little math, a little writing, a little critical reading, a little more math, etc. When choosing between the SAT and ACT, ask yourself if moving back and forth between content areas confuse you or keep you energized?

7.     The ACT is more of a "big picture" exam

College admissions officers care about how you did on each section of the SAT. On the ACT, they're most concerned with your composite score. So if you're weak in one content area but strong in others, you could still end up with a very good ACT score and thus make a strong impression with the admissions committee.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Leaders 4 Life Fellow Wade McDonald Recognized

2013 Leaders 4 Life (L4L) Fellow Wade McDonald was recently featured in the Women of Sugarmill Woods' newsletter, highlighting his accomplishment of receiving a L4L scholarship.  Leaders 4 Life is a scholarship program within Take Stock in Children (TSIC) funded by the Asofsky Family Foundation that provides scholarships to five Florida students each year. Wade was onboarded as a TSIC student in 2008, and the Women of Sugarmill Woods are the sponsors of his TSIC scholarship. Below is an excerpt from the glowing newsletter article that features Wade's accomplishments:

Several local and state dignitaries were present for the [Leaders 4 Life] awards ceremony. State Representative Jimmie Smith told Wade that he now has an opportunity to change the world. Superintendent of Citrus County Schools, Sam Himmel, added that Wade comes from great stock and that he is a great representative of our county. Sheriff Jeffrey Dawsey said that in his job he sees both the best and the worst of our young people today, and all too often only the bad ones make the front page of the newspaper, but Wade represents success and his story belongs on the front page of the paper. (Wade’s award was indeed the front page story on the January 31st edition of the Citrus Chronicle!)

Sheriff Dawsey added that Wade had a vision, had goals, and he created a path to reach his goals. His passion will get him where he wants to go. Bob Allen, Wade’s mentor in TSIC during his four years at Lecanto High School, remembered a shy, introverted young boy when he first met Wade. But they hit it off well. Bob has seen how Wade has developed and matured into a successful young man with a great sense of humor, positive values, good self-image, and good work ethic. He’s polite; he’s prompt; and he helps others. He’s a special young man. Both Ginger Bryant, chairwoman of Citrus County School Board and Pat Lancaster, Citrus-Levy TSIC coordinator, echoed Bob’s description of Wade, and they both appreciate what Wade has done to help other students in the TSIC program.
We join the Women of Sugarmill Woods in congratulating Wade, and we are so proud of all of his accomplishments!

Wade McDonald at the Leaders 4 Life Award Presentation

Wade's brother Shane, father Blaine, Wade, and mother Joan

Friday, March 15, 2013


TSIC High School Senior Wendall McGahee and TSIC Program Director Jody Mackle

Take Stock in Children program director Jody Mackle and Fernandina Beach High School Take Stock graduating senior Wendall McGahee were presented Distinguished Service Awards by the Nassau County Community Development Corp on February 23 in Fernandina Beach. Given in recognition of Exceptional Leadership and Community Service, Ms. Mackle’s was for Education and Mr. Wendall’s for Youth. 
Under Ms. Mackle’s leadership since 2000, Take Stock Nassau has affected the lives of over 300 Nassau County youth providing scholarships, mentors and hope for a better future. 
Dubbed as "Mr. Wendall" by his classmates, Mr. MaGahee has served as class president for 3 years and is acknowledged in the community as a youth leader because of his involvement in many worthwhile activities. He will attend FAMU in August on his Take Stock scholarship where he plans to major in Political Science.
Congratulations to both "Mr. Wendall" and Ms. Mackle. We are proud to have individuals like you representing Take Stock in Children!

Happy AmeriCorps Week!

Happy AmeriCorps Week! AmeriCorps can mean a lot of things to many different people, whether it is volunteering, building park trails, working with homeless youth, or advocating for students, one thing is for sure – AmeriCorps members make an impact in their community.
Check out the grand prize winner in the 2010 AmeriCorps Video Contest:


Here at Take Stock in Children, our AmeriCorps term is definitely many of these things and more.  Everyday, students inspire us, challenge us, and encourage us to be better individuals, volunteers, and citizens.  We thank you for the opportunity to serve you in order to “Get Things Done!”

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Game Changers - the Story of Mitchell Marcus

TSIC’s annual Leadership Summit kicks off tomorrow in Tallahassee, Florida and is all about “Game Changers in Education.”  A recent story about high school student Mitchell Marcus broke last week, and is a true Game Changer, one rich with leadership, inclusivity, and sportsmanship.  Check out this great video and read more from the Huffington Post below:


A special needs student from a Texas high school scored a basket in the final game of the season after a player from the opposing team gave up the ball.

Mitchell Marcus, a teenage student at Coronado High School in El Paso, Texas, is the team manager for the Coronado Thunderbirds and an avid basketball fan. During the last game of the season on Feb. 12, Marcus, who has a "developmental disability," was given the chance to play, according to Fox local affiliate KFOX 14 in El Paso. With 90 seconds left, Coach Peter Morales put Marcus into the game.

"Mitchell's a great shot," his mother Amy told KFOX. "He took his first shot and missed. It hit the rim. You just hear the whole crowd sighing. It went out of bounds and Franklin got it. We all knew that he wasn't going to have his chance."

Then, Jonathon Montanez, a senior at Franklin High School and a member of the opposing team, down by 10 points, tossed Marcus the ball. "Since we were down and there was only 13 seconds left, might as well give Mitchell his last shot," Montanez told KFOX.

Marcus finally scored, and the crowd went wild.

A video of the game and Marcus' basket went viral after being uploaded online.

CBS News correspondent Steve Hartnan knew he wanted to tell Marcus's story. "It's America at its best," he told the El Paso Times. "When I grew up, kids like Mitchell got picked on, and to see how far we have come along is touching. I get emotional thinking about it."

NBC Southwest station KTSM first reported on Marcus' story the day after the game, calling it "the play of the year."

"I was so happy then," Marcus said about his shot. "It made my night."

Over the past three years, Marcus has helped the Thunderbirds earn a No. 1 ranking in the city of El Paso.

Coach Morales spoke with ESPN's El Paso radio station, KROD, about Marcus's amazing experience.

"This kid is very very loyal to your program," Morales told ESPN radio. "He's dedicated. We've had kids that come to this program and play with us and this kid has been more loyal than some of those kids to us because he wants to be here."

Take Stock in Children commends Mitchell, his coach, and the other team for their great examples of leadership and dedication.  This story serves as an inspiration for our students to create a positive environment at home and at school that allows everyone to thrive.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Special Guest Laura Schroff to speak at Take Stock In Children's Leadership Summit 2013

This Week, Take Stock In Children will be having its 2013 Leadership Summit in our state's capital.  Every year, TSIC  goes to Tallahassee to tell our lawmakers how important our program is to not only the youth who receive Take Stock's services, but to their communities as well.  This year Take Stock In Children has the privilege of having former executive marketing, New York Times best selling Author and the prestigious Christopher Award recipient, Laura Schroff on the roster as one of the distinguished speakers.

Laura's book, " An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-year-old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny " is a tale of two people whose life circumstances brought them together on a journey through adversity, triumph, tenacity and resilience.  

Laura and her mentee, Maurice Mazyck's story capture the very essence of the many mentor/mentee relationships that are formed within the Take Stock In Children family.  We look forward to hearing Laura's example of how she too is paying it forward!

Place link in your browser to watch her interview

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Alternative Spring Breaks!

With Spring Break coming up in the next few weeks, we thought we would offer our students a way to engage in volunteerism while taking a break from studies. Alternative Spring Breaks are trips where a group of college students engage in volunteer service that focus on a particular social issue such as poverty, the environment, or education reform. Students learn about the social issues and then perform week-long projects with local non-profit organizations. Alternative breaks are great because you get to travel and work with a group of peers for a week, all while creating an impact in the community!

What you stand to gain
·         Travel You can travel to new communities and meet new people
·         Involvement These trips are great ways to become more involved in school and in your community
·         Savings Alternative Breaks are often considerably less expensive (if not totally free, covered by student government) than traditional Spring Break trips
·         Experience Serving with an Alternative Spring Break is a great way to gain leadership experience

Quality components of an Alternative Break
Strong Direct Service: Should provide an opportunity for participants to engage in direct or “hands on” projects and activities that address unmet social needs, as determined by the community.

Orientation: Alternative breakers learn about the purposes and goals of their community partners with which they will be working.

Education: Breakers learn about the complexity of the social issue through reading materials, speaker panels, documentaries, and guest lecturers related to current trends and historical context. A strong educational foundation for the trip will contribute to a meaningful service experience.

Training: Breakers are provided with adequate skills necessary to carry out service projects during their trip. This may include learning physical skills, such as construction or maintenance skills, as well as interpersonal communication, such as interacting with children, sensitivity training, working with people with disabilities, trail building, etc.

Reflection: During the trip participants process the service work as it connects to the broader social issue. Groups set aside time for reflection to take place individually and as a group.

Reorientation: After students return to campus, reorientation activities allow participants to talk about issues with others on campus, learn about local volunteer and civic involvement opportunities, and brainstorm other means to benefit their local community. Reorientation (the post-trip application of the experience) is the essential purpose of an alternative break - to provide a platform for participants to work towards lifelong active citizenship.

Diversity and Social Justice: Strong alternative break programs include diverse representation of students from the campus community and direct exposure to studying social justice issues
Many students who return from an alternative break experience consider it a life changing event. Alternative break alumni have reported changing their major, increasing their campus involvement, committing to continued community service, actively staying updated on social issues, and joining a service program post-graduation such as AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, or Teach for America. Many return to participate and lead alternative break programs throughout their time as students.

An impact analysis conducted in 2001 by Dr. Pushkala Raman and her Marketing Research Class at Florida State University in conjunction with Break Away ( revealed that there is overwhelming evidence to support the view that alternative breaks are “indeed contributing to the creating of active citizens.”

Many schools coordinate Alternative Spring Breaks for their students, so if you are interested in taking part in a trip this spring, check with your Student Government or Community Outreach office.  You may also want to check out the following link for more organizations which offer their own Alternative Spring Breaks: