Suwannee Democrat


January 16, 2014

Branford High School student wins 2013 Governor’s Recognition Scholarship

BHS student chosen based on essay

Branford —

One local student’s words will have an impact on his future. Shawn Topham, an eighth grade student who attends Branford High School, was chosen as the district winner for the 2013 Governor’s Recognition Scholarship essay contest. Shawn will be awarded a 2+2 tuition and local fee scholarship valued at approximately $16,000. To receive the benefits of the scholarship, the student must remain drug and crime-free.

The Governor’s Recognition Scholarship initiative began in 2006 with the goal of providing a college scholarship to at least one child in each county in the state. It is granted annually to middle school students who compose outstanding essays on the legacy of a past Florida governor.  

This year, seventh and eighth grade students in select counties were challenged with the prompt: “Choose one former governor of Florida and describe his most significant impact on the Sunshine State and your life today.”

Shawn writes about Claude R. Clark, Jr. “Though Claude R. Clark only served a single four year term, his decisions still reverberates in Florida.  Mr. Kirk’s bold move to protect the ecosystems of Florida ensured that the environment will be safe and enjoyable, for me and everyone else, for years to come.”

In addition to writing the 500 word essay, the applicants had to include a letter of recommendation from an educator or professional describing why they were worthy to receive the scholarship and how they stood out from their peers. Also, a 200-250 word personal essay was submitted that described why they believed they were deserving of the scholarship, how they have given back to their community, and a brief description of their future plans.

In her letter of recommendation, Karen Koon, Media Specialist at Branford High School, wrote, “I would guarantee that if you choose to invest in this young man’s life it would be a decision that would impact the future generations in a positive way.” 

This year, the Stanley G. Tate Florida Prepaid College Foundation is awarding 7th and 8th grade students in Bay, Brevard, Escambia, Gulf, Highlands, Lee, Levy, Polk, St. Johns, and Suwannee Counties. The scholarship, courtesy of the Florida Prepaid College Foundation, will help local kids pursue their dreams of a college education.

For more information on the Florida Prepaid College Foundation, please visit and for more information on the Florida Prepaid College Plans, please visit or call 1-800-552-GRAD (4723).

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