Essay on former governor nets scholarship

SPRING HILL — Ricardo Sabater is only in seventh grade, but already he is set financially for attending any public college or university in Florida.

For that, the 13-year-old can thank a generous scholarship program, his own writing prowess and the late Gov. Lawton Chiles.

The Fox Chapel Middle School student entered an essay contest sponsored by My Foundation — The Florida Prepaid College Fund, calling for participants to write about the Florida governor of their choice. He decided on Chiles.

His four-paragraph essay impressed the judges so much that he won the top prize: The Governor's Recognition Scholarship. Valued at nearly $16,000, the scholarship covers four years of tuition and local fees at any Florida public university. He will be awarded the scholarship today at his school.

Ricardo chose Chiles because, he said, he liked that Chiles fought tobacco companies and championed for mothers and babies. "He is well known for starting Florida's Healthy Start program in 1992. This program focused its attention on prenatal care for mothers and babies," he wrote.

As for the tobacco companies, Ricardo wrote, "Chiles was not afraid to take on big business when the result would be better for the people of Florida."

Ricardo has only been in Florida for this school year, having moved here from upstate New York in August. He lives with his mother, Suleica Sabater, and younger brother R'Mani. His father, Ricardo Sabater Sr., lives in Miami but remains a supportive figure in the younger Ricardo's life.

He plans to attend Springstead High School and take dual enrollment and advanced placement classes. After high school, Ricardo said he is interested in attending the University of South Florida, where he would like to study genetic engineering.

"The scholarship is the best opportunity I have of being able to attend college after high school,'' Ricardo told the scholarship organizers. "I would love to go to college, and be the first one in my family to graduate."

Ricardo looks up to a scientist he calls an inventor and writer. "My hero's Robert Lanza," Ricardo said. "He works for Advanced Cell Technology."

The company, he said, researches organs and cloning. Ricardo has seen Dr. Lanza on the Science Channel and has researched him on the Internet.

Ricardo's own hobbies include writing. "I write fiction stories," he said. And besides watching the Science Channel, he enjoys doing research and hanging out with friends.

He has lofty ambitions. "I would like to discover something," he said. "I want my name in history."

Kelley Zenchuk is Ricardo's advanced language arts teacher. She suggested entering the competition to him and said, "He's a bright student. He's very respectful. I think he has an innate love to work."

She spoke well of his whole class. "These kids really do want to help and I see this about Ricky. He's one of those kids who does want to help others."

Governor's Recognition Scholarship Essay

"Lawton Chiles"

By Ricardo Sabater, Seventh Grade,

Fox Chapel Middle School, Spring Hill

In my opinion, Lawton Chiles was one of the most influential governors Florida has ever had. He stood for many things including changing how politicians become elected. Chiles will be remembered for supporting issues including health care, taking on the big tobacco companies, and looking out for the families in Florida.

Chiles stood for Florida's children and families for more than 40 years. As governor of Florida, Lawton Chiles was dedicated to fighting for children's issues and promoted many different programs. He is well known for starting Florida's Healthy Start program in 1992. This program focused its attention on prenatal care for mothers and babies. Since the program began, the infant mortality has dramatically been reduced. By the end of its sixth year, mortality rates had dropped by 20%. While many politicians end their careers without much fanfare, Chiles continued his dedicated work for mothers and children. In late 1997 he opened the Lawton and Rhea Chiles Center for Healthy Mothers and Babies. This facility would continue his work with research and improving services for mothers and children. Chiles started many programs all to help Florida's families in need.

Chiles was not afraid to take on big businesses when the result would be better for the people of Florida. He was known for fighting for many things, one of them being the tobacco industry. Lawton Chiles began his first strike in 1995. He set out to sue tobacco industries. He felt that these companies owed the people of Florida compensation for their medical expenses. These companies knew their product was bad to people's health and should be held accountable. In the end, Chiles prevailed against the tobacco companies, suing them for billions of dollars for the state of Florida.

Lawton Chiles was a middle class child, and went to public schools just like me. He is a legacy because he created awareness for many concerns of Floridians. He changed the way poor women and children receive prenatal care and took on the big tobacco companies in Florida. He has inspired me to be the best that I can be and make the best of what I've got. Chiles is a role model not only to me, but to many children of Florida. He died in 1998, but his legacy shall live on through the programs he created.

Essay on former governor nets scholarship 05/28/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 3, 2008 2:57pm]

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