Carnival Foundation, in partnership with the Miami HEAT NBA basketball team and the Florida Prepaid College Foundation, presented 15 South Florida students with four-year college scholarships during halftime at a Miami HEAT game earlier this week.

The students currently participate in the innovative "Carnival Scholarship & Mentoring Program" sponsored by Carnival and the Miami HEAT in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami that pairs a student with an employee mentor from Carnival’s management team. Prior to entering high school and participating in the Carnival Scholarship & Mentoring Program, the students attended the HEAT Academy, an after-school enrichment program for at-risk elementary-age youth.

The 2016 scholarship recipients include:

Yvette Bien-Aime – William H. Turner Tech

Solanch Calleiro – Mater Academy East

Sarah Espinoza – Coral Gables Senior High

Maria Hernandez – Miami Jackson Senior High

Pedro Hernandez – Booker T. Washington Senior High

David Javier – Mater Academy East

Ricard Joseph – Miami Senior High

Charlene Monestime – North Miami Beach Senior High

Camila Montiel – Miami Senior High

Giannelli Munoz – Coral Gables Senior High

Erik Albert Obando – Miami Senior High

Alaix Pairra – Coral Gables Senior High

Izaih Pierre – William H. Turner Tech

Jodennis O. Sanchez – iPrep Academy

Keno L. Tate, Jr. – Miami Northwestern Senior High

In addition to receiving the scholarship, students were presented with a new laptop computer to support their studies, along with a Perry Ellis gift card.

The scholarships, purchased by Carnival Foundation, were handed out at center court by Carnival Foundation Executive Director Linda Coll. Miami-Dade Superintendent of Schools Alberto Carvalho and representatives from Florida Prepaid College Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami and the Miami HEAT, including the Miami HEAT’s Vice President of Player Programs Alonzo Mourning, a member of the NBA Hall of Fame, were on hand to acknowledge the students.

For the past 14 years, Carnival has purchased Project STARS scholarships from Florida Prepaid College Foundation, representing a collective value of more than $2.3 million.  The Florida Prepaid College Foundation scholarship covers the cost of tuition for two years at a Florida college followed by two years at a Florida public university. This is the seventh year Carnival scholarship recipients have matriculated into college.  During that time Carnival has awarded 105 scholarships to Miami-Dade high school students.

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