Dolphin Aviation scholarships help students afford tuition

July 6, 2007

When Kayla Nicole Stell was a little girl, she promised to help heal the injured and take care of the sick.

In February 2006, Kayla's father, suffering from diabetes, had a mid-metatarsal amputation; half of his left foot was amputated after an infection. After returning home from a two-month hospital stay, he was assigned a home heal nurse, but someone in the home also had to help.

Stell fulfilled her childhood pledge.

"My mother couldn't stand the sight of blood," said Stell, 18, so the nurse taught her how to help her father.

"I had to learn how to do intravenous antibiotics and change his dressings and help him around the house," she said.

Assisting her father helped solidify Stell's career choice to become a nurse. Already enrolled through Sarasota High School in the Sarasota County Technical Institute High School licensed practical nursing program, Stell sought out scholarships to help her finish nursing school.

"My dad couldn't go back to work because of his diabetes, so money was really tight," she said.

That's when Ron Ciaravella stepped in to help.

For the past several years, the Dolphin Aviation owner and president has supported students in Sarasota and Manatee students. Each year, Ciaravella presents several $500 scholarships that are based on the students' academic achievement and financial need.

"Giving out these scholarships is something Ron Ciaravella really believes in," said Ed Stafford, who helps Ciaravella organize the presentations.

Because of the scholarship, Stell was able to pay her tuition this semester.

"I was honored to get the scholarship," she said. "I was happy because it was the first scholarship that I've ever gotten. It's going to help pave the way for my career in nursing."

Stell's last SCTI class began Monday, and she will finish her practical nursing courses in February.

"I'll be 18 when I finish the program with my LPN," she said.

Stell then plans to enroll in Manatee Community College's registered nursing and specialize in pediatrics.

In addition to Stell, Dolphin Aviation scholarships also were presented to:

* Corby Paige Herschman, 17, of Sarasota, graduated from the International Baccalaureate Riverview High School with a grade point average of 3.86 and was ranked No. 11 in her class out of 461 students.

Her school activities included Spanish Honor Society, Young Democrats Club, National Honor Society and Student Government. She also was a Spanish, math and chemistry tutor. Herschman has been employed by both Girls Inc. of Sarasota County as a lifeguard and program aide and the Community Youth Development of Sarasota County as a student trainer.

She plans to attend the University of Florida with hopes of becoming a pharmacist or pharmaceutical representative.

* Veronika Badurova, 18, of Venice, graduated from Venice High School with a 4.78 weighted grade point average and was ranked No. 1 in her class out of 469 students.

Her school activities included cross country, tennis, Student Advisory Board to the Supervisor of Elections Office, Interact, Spanish Honor Society, Writing Club and Link Club. She is working to acquire her single-engine private pilot's license. Badurova is employed as an apprentice mechanic at Sarasota Avionics Inc. in Venice and as a hostess at the Cockpit Cafe.

She plans to attend Davidson College near Charlotte, N.C., and study aeronautical engineering.

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