By Alisha McDarris
For Hometown News
TREASURE COAST -- It's not often that colleges fight for high school students who aren't star athletes, but that's precisely what happened to three Treasure Coast academics last week.
Evan MacKay, 17, from Vero Beach High School; Jing Lin, 17, from South Fork High School; and Kareena Bachan, 17, from Fort Pierce Central High School, had colleges from around the state vying for their attention at the Sunshine State Scholars event in Orlando on Feb.13-14.
The 11th grade students were nominated by teachers and administrators to represent their counties as high-achieving science, technology, engineering and math students.
All of them are also dual-enrollment students at IRSC, earning high school and college credits simultaneously and are planning careers in STEM-related fields like medical research, radiology and engineering.
The two-day recruitment and awards event celebrated their accomplishments and gave them a chance to explore all the college and career options available to them in Florida in an effort to keep the brightest and best in their home state.
"There were a lot of colleges in Florida that I didn't know about," said Kareena who was shocked at all the possibilities she didn't know existed.
In addition to colleges flaunting their STEM-related programs, tech-related businesses like NASA and AT&T advertised internships and work opportunities and students attended financial aid and college application and essay workshops to help prepare them for their last year of high school.
"It was a really exciting atmosphere," said Evan who enjoyed seeing so many top STEM students from across the state coming together in one place.
"I had such a great time," Jing said.
In addition to planning for their futures, students were also rewarded for their academic excellence. Each was given a plaque, tickets to Universal Studios and a free iPad mini.
"It was really a great honor," Evan said. "The hard work definitely pays off."
"It's really outstanding the accomplishments they have made only being in the 11th grade," said Angela Roesemann, Enrollment specialist at IRSC. "It was a great opportunity for them."