Thursday, April 19, 2018
News Roundup

TechStart Tampa Bay stimulates studies for STEM students

RUSKIN — It's one week before school starts and Christian Torres, 17, is immersed in all things video.

Seated at his desk in the studio/control room of Lennard High School, he is editing videos that will debut the first week of school. As producer of Lennard's morning show, The Daily Roundup, Torres can regularly be found roving the halls, bouncing from classroom to cafeteria to pep rally, with his Canon camera slung over his shoulder.

"The only thing I ever wanted to do in high school was to be on the morning show," he said.

In the eighth grade, he made a video highlighting his technology skills and sent it to a teacher at Lennard. The teacher liked his video so much that he was able to skip the preliminary production class and begin as a freshman, a spot usually reserved for incoming sophomores.

Torres' matter-of-fact dedication to video production makes it easy to see why he was awarded, at age 14, a full college scholarship from TechStart Tampa Bay, a charity that provides students who are on a STEM track (science, technology, engineering, math) with opportunities in the field.

Torres typically rearranges his daily schedule to accommodate various projects.

In the morning, he runs the live show and during lunch he films commercials for the administration or clubs. He also films events like homecoming and pep rallies.

He recognizes the challenges students at his school face.

"There are a lot of migrant families and it is a Title 1 school, so I see a lot of students who aren't as involved in school as they should be," said Torres, who sees his producer role as motivator to those students who want to be involved but aren't sure why.

"Students should come to school events because it's cool and fun and you should support your community. It's a social thing. Everything I produce is geared toward getting people to enjoy school. I love this place."

TechStart Tampa Bay's event and programming manager Melodie Hillier appreciates Torres' perspective.

"Christian has a vision for his high school," Hillier said. "He's definitely concerned about getting his classmates more involved with school and he uses his technology skills as a way to make a change there."

Torres said he would like to attend Brigham Young University. His mother went there and because he and his family are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Torres said "it has always been my desire to go there."

Although unsure about which program to enroll in, Torres has considered its technology program. Many of Torres' friends in the Ruskin congregation have gone on to BYU. "I will have a network," he said.

TechStart Tampa Bay is the philanthropic branch of Tampa Bay Technology Forum. Its mission is to create opportunities for at-risk youth by providing access to technology and computers and awarding college scholarships to students in grades 6 through 12 in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties who are pursuing a STEM education.

Students interested in applying for a TechStart college scholarship can apply through either the Pinellas Education Foundation or the Hillsborough Education Foundation. The Take Stock in Children statewide program assists low-income students in obtaining a college education through scholarships.

Depending on the cost of tuition, Hillier said TechStart raises an average of $8,000 to $10,000 per award recipient. Scholarship donations are matched dollar for dollar by either the Hillsborough Education Foundation or the Pinellas Education Foundation.

Hillier said each scholarship covers four years of tuition, and room and board.

In addition to college scholarships, Hillier said TechStart actively participates in existing programs like Computer*fic, helping open 28 computer labs in bay area Boys & Girls Clubs. Metropolitan Ministries also was given a computer lab, which will help provide 800 children daily access to technology.

Since its inception 12 years ago, the Tech Jam fundraiser has generated about $650,000 and awarded more than 50 college scholarships to students in both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. Hillier hopes Tech Jam will increase the amount of opportunities for promising students like Torres.

Aimee Alexander can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
On 4/20, a Tampa distillery is releasing hemp-infused Touch Vodka

On 4/20, a Tampa distillery is releasing hemp-infused Touch Vodka

TAMPA — Appropriately enough, a local distillery is releasing a hemp vodka on Friday, 4/20.After more than a year of planning and research, Fat Dog Spirits — the parent company of Touch Vodka — is releasing its new Nirvana vodka.Served in 750-millile...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
Graze all day at Armature Works

Graze all day at Armature Works

TAMPA HEIGHTS— Graze 1910 upholds the comfortable and relaxing, yet elegant setting of Armature Works with its "comfort food" offerings and dedication to serving breakfast all day."It’s the way I eat. I graze all day," said owner Raymond "Ray" Menend...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Bucs to debut East Club Stadium at Raymond James Stadium

Bucs to debut East Club Stadium at Raymond James Stadium

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers prepare for the upcoming 2018 season with luxury renovations to its East Stadium Club featuring everything new and modern.These enhancements are the fourth phase of the nearly $160 million renovation of Raymond James Stadium,...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Hernando County Commissioner arrested on prostitution charges

Hernando County Commissioner arrested on prostitution charges

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County Commissioner Nick Nicholson, 71, was arrested midday Thursday by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office on multiple prostitution charges.Nicholson was booked into the Hernando County Detention Center on one count of operat...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG – Mallex Smith has style.Effervescent personality. Pop culture hipness. Sense of fashion with accoutrements.Now the Rays are going to find out if he has game.More specifically, enough game to be a front-line outfielder, even an i...
Updated: 28 minutes ago
An Alabama mayor says her small town smells like rotting corpses more than two months after New York City’s so-called

An Alabama mayor says her small town smells like rotting corpses more than two months after New York City’s so-called "Poop Train" rolled in for an extended stay

PARRISH, Ala. — A stinking trainload of human waste from New York City is stranded in a tiny Alabama town, spreading a stench like a giant backed-up toilet — and the "poop train" is just the latest example of the South being used as a dumping ground ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Here’s your first look at what will be Riverwalk Place, Tampa’s tallest tower

Here’s your first look at what will be Riverwalk Place, Tampa’s tallest tower

TAMPA — The old Trump tower site on Tampa’s Riverwalk has for years remained empty as a knocked-out tooth, but on Thursday developers put flesh on a vision for what they tout as Tampa’s tallest building, with its most exclusive set of condominiums an...
Updated: 1 hour ago
This is a story about a stoned raccoon at a fire station

This is a story about a stoned raccoon at a fire station

An unusual pair showed up in the pre-dawn hours at Fire Station 82 in Wayne Township, Indiana, last week.Repeatedly pressing the doorbell was a frantic woman. In her arms was a furry, masked animal that firefighters later described as "lethargic," fi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Someone covered a gopher tortoise in red paint and concrete

Someone covered a gopher tortoise in red paint and concrete

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is trying to find the culprit who covered a gopher tortoise in concrete and painted it red.Two people found the gopher tortoise wandering on County Road 455, south of Montverde in Lake County, and...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Top 5 at noon: Marriott Edition to bring five-star hotel ambitions to Water Street Tampa; Pinellas to enlist Sandy Hook group in its quest for safer schools; and more

Top 5 at noon: Marriott Edition to bring five-star hotel ambitions to Water Street Tampa; Pinellas to enlist Sandy Hook group in its quest for safer schools; and more

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com:MARRIOTT EDITION TO BRING FIVE-STAR HOTEL AMBITIONS TO WATER STREET TAMPAAt the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City, hotelier Ian Schrager transformed a Jazz Age building with its own rich h...
Updated: 1 hour ago