The highlights of the Rotary Boca Raton Sunset annual FAU High School Rotary Scholar Gala Monday May 8, 2017 included 2013-2014 FAU HS Rotary Scholar of the Year Gabrielle Bush as our featured keynote speaker, FAU HS Principal/Director Sherry Bees, FAU HS Associate Director David Kelly, as well as 2016-2017 FAU HS Rotary Scholar ambassadors Caralin Branscum and Michael Keller.  Caralin and Michael were chosen by the eight selected monthly scholars as their ambassadors to provide representative testimonials for the 2016-17 FAU HS Rotary Scholars.  The Rotary Boca Raton Sunset FAU HS Rotary Scholars project provides encouragement and reward for the hard work and service that develops leaders for our future.
The 2016-2017 FAU HS Rotary Scholars and their sponsors include:
September 2016 Scholar Jonathan Chin-Cheong with sponsor PDG Phil Lustig, III (and late wife Peg).
October 2016 Scholar Sarah Palumbo with sponsor Voya Financial & Richard Koblick.
November 2016 Scholar Nadia Sial with sponsors Beverley and Jerry Leitherer.
December 2016 Scholar Maximilian Rabil with PDG Steve Laine representing Howard Lincoln.
January 2017 Scholar Kira Wolak with sponsors John and Maxine Ross.
February 2017 Scholar Carlin Branscum with sponsor Ravi Goolcharan, Gulf Atlantic Painting.  As a selected 2016-2017 FAU HS Scholar ambassador, Carlin reviewed some of her accomplishments. 
Caralin is a senior at Florida Atlantic University High School expecting to graduate in spring this year.  Having concurrently completed college courses at FAU, she expects to earn a Bachelor Arts in Criminal Justice and Sociology in spring of 2018.  These degrees will prepare her for her goal of serving as a criminal prosecutor. 
Having been born in China, but adopted into the Branscum family at age of 10 months, Caralin was home schooled for seven years.  She was accepted into the FAU HS program and is now delighted with the opportunity to participate in research projects with FAU professors.  One of her current projects is a criminal justice study of legislation in other states, specifically focused on sexual assaults.  The objective is to discover what is effective and where weaknesses exist, which may lead to establishing a model for future legislation and improved application for safety in our communities.
March 2017 Scholar Michael Keller with sponsor SunTrust Bank & Fred Licata.  As a selected 2016-2017 FAU HS Rotary Scholar ambassador, Mike shared some of his accomplishments and community services as well as obstacles along the way.
A humble but confident scholar, he was eager to have the opportunity to praise FAU HS and FAU and thank Assistant Director David Kelly for providing the environment to study what Michael truly loves without worrying about the financial aspect.  Additionally, because of his PSAT scores, he was among several distinguished National Merit students who were invited to the Baldwin House to meet with the President and Deans of FAU to be awarded FAU's Presidential Scholarship, the university's highest undergrad honor.
When Michael was awarded the Principal's Award for "outstanding leadership and academic excellence" at Don Estridge Middle School, he didn't quite realize what merited the leadership laud.  From his perspective he had only done what came naturally, helping others with homework to help them better understand things.  But when he entered FAU HS he realized the value provided when he received official recognition for tutoring fellow classmates and younger Henderson Middle School students in Math.  Michael continued this into the university through FAU's Owl-to-Owl tutoring program, which offered the leadership opportunity to help students older than himself and make a difference in their lives.  Michael says, "It is the most incredible feeling to know that I've made a difference in the lives of so many people so easily.  Knowing that so many people count on me and know they can come to me is what I strive for, academically and personally."
He is now also a team leader of one of the many research teams at FAU's Machine Perception and Cognitive Robotics (MPCR) lab, which involves machine learning, neural networks, and artificial intelligence.  In the MPCR lab, the team uses what they know about the brain to teach computers to function on their own.  The rover team recently completed a self-driving rover and they plan to extend that to make a self-driving golf cart.  Individually, Michael is working on a project to monitor and report a person's posture and position in space.  This has particular interest to him as an aid to accommodate and overcome his condition with cerebral palsy (CP).  CP is a spectrum like autism: it has many forms, the version Michael has affects his walking, balance, and hands; which is why he uses a walker for mobility.  He sees this as an opportunity to contribute, especially to his community, the disabled; and he plans to continue in pursuit of applied computer technology to help others with handicaps.
April 2017 Scholar Alexandria Trombetta with sponsor Naheed Kahn, The Griddle Restaurant, and PDG Charlie Bromberg.

About 70 people gathered at Taverna Kyma to celebrate and honor the monthly FAU HS Rotary Scholars for 2016-2017.  Club President Mathieu Daquin called the formal meeting to order welcoming guests and honorees, then passed the meeting to the gala's MC Honorable Dr Steve Perman, also the club Sergeant at Arms and charter member.  S@A Steve led us in the USA Pledge of Allegiance and the club affirmation composed by Dr Steve during the earliest days of our club.  The affirmation of club purpose was included on the front of the evening program for all to read along, it also appears at the bottom of our web site home page and the weekly newsletter.  Later, Dr Steve called on Rotary Past District 6930 Governor Steve Laine to provide an invocation, which had been written for Rotary by his late wife Reverend Iris Laine.
Principal/Director Sherry Bees briefly commented on the FAU HS program and the wonderful ambassadors these honored scholars are as representatives of the very special and unique opportunity provided.  FAU HS provides an opportunity for able students to earn a baccalaureate degree from the university while completing their high school degree, which eliminates the additional university tuition expense because the high school is part of the university structure.  Not all FAU HS students complete this ambitious accomplishment, but several of these honored students will receive both degrees this year; their stories appear on the Rotary Boca Raton Sunset web site.
FAU HS Associate Director David Kelly reviewed the history of the FAU HS Rotary Scholar project and the selection methodology now used to identify a salient scholar for each month of the school year.  The FAU High School Rotary Scholar of the Month is selected by the FAU HS staff in recognition of character, ethics, morality, community service, and academic achievement.  During the first year of this program, Rotary Boca Raton Sunset members found a sponsor to provide a $50 award for the student selected each month; at the end of the school year the club's scholarship committee then made the difficult decision to select a scholar of the year to receive a $1,000 award from funds raised for community youth projects.  Because of the amazing students selected each month by the FAU HS staff, the club scholarship committee preferred not to embark on so difficult a task again; so now a sponsor is found for each student to provide a $500 award to each student at the annual gala.  The sponsors and scholars are encouraged to remain in contact providing continuing mentoring and support as the scholars pursue their career.
Following opportunities for sponsors to award scholars, our keynote speaker Gabrielle Bush reviewed some of her experiences since being selected as the FAU HS Rotary Scholar of the Year for 2013-2014.  Rotary Boca Raton Sunset selected Gabrielle Bush as our 2013-2014 Student of the Year for our inaugural year of what has become our FAU HS Rotary Scholar project. She completed her Bachelor of Health Services - Health Administration in 2014 and completed her Master of Public Administration the following year.  Recently Gabrielle and her entire family of scholars were recognized on the NBC TODAY show, highlighting the hard work and achievements accomplished because of the opportunity provided by FAU HS dual enrollment program.  
Gabrielle praised the FAU HS dual enrollment program and the administrators and congratulated the eight scholars selected for 2016-2017.  She offered encouragement and highlighted the honor of being selected as FAU HS Rotary scholars because of what it means when you are recognized and rewarded for the efforts in learning as well as the service you return to your community.  Following her rewarding and encouraging speech, club President Mathieu provided a certificate and special thanks for Gabrielle's testimony. 
Congratulations 2016-2017 FAU HS Rotary Scholars!