Every year, each Florida school district names one high achieving eleventh grade science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) student to join this prestigious group of peers.
At the two-day event, over 50 Florida colleges and universities set up booths to show what they have to offer and to recruit these talented students. The purpose is to keep the best and brightest scholars in Florida for their college and career choices.
Representatives from businesses also attend the event to give the Sunshine State Scholars insights into what career opportunities await those who pursue STEM fields in Florida.
Gray was nominated by WHS math teacher Nicholas Weaver because of her outstanding performance in STEM areas such as math and science. She began by taking the high school math course Algebra 1 Honors in eighth grade and this year finished a Tallahassee Community College credit dual enrollment course in Precalculus/Trigonometry.
She is also a member of the WHS Medical Academy and will enter her fourth year in this rigorous program. In addition, she excelled in Chemistry 1 Honors at WHS and successfully completed college Chemistry at TCC.
Gray was a three-year AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) student in eighth, ninth, and tenth grades where she refined her study skills and earned teacher support to recommend her for tough classes. She will be the first generation in her family to attend college.
So far she has earned an unweighted cumulative grade point average of 3.9 on a 4.0 scale.
Parents and one teacher were invited to the Sunshine State Scholars event. Gray is the daughter of Regina and Walter Gray, who both attended. WHS math teacher Nicholas Weaver also attended.
States Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “Shawna is an excellent example of a student whose outstanding academic efforts will open doors for her. We would be lucky to have her attend college in Florida and return to our community for her career.”
WHS Principal Mike Barwick also had praise for Gray’s work ethic and ability to persevere through challenging coursework. He was her principal at Wakulla Middle School; Superintendent Pearce was her principal at Medart Elementary School.
The Sunshine State Scholars program is hosted by the non-profit Florida Education Foundation in partnership with the Division of Florida Colleges, the State University System of Florida, and the Florida Department of Education. Several businesses such as Lockheed Martin also help sponsor the program.