By Lily Belcher

Gentlemen’s Quest of Tampa, a local nonprofit organization, provides year-round support and membership to the teenagers in the community through programs, such as STEM and career exploration camps. In addition to these programs, Gentlemen’s Quest offers scholarships, which were given to 12 college-bound members that shared their high school ‘turnaround’ stories, five of whom are local teens.

Lennard High School graduate Darius Frazier Jr. received a scholarship from Gentlemen’s Quest after sharing his story of the culture shock of transferring from attending private elementary and middle schools his entire life to a large public high school. Frazier Jr. graduated high school with a 7.8 GPA and an associate’s degree, in addition to being on Lennard’s wrestling team. He will enter his junior year at Florida State University in the fall.

Jalen Morris, an East Bay High School graduate, earned a scholarship for the improvement he has shown in both his attitude and work ethic. “Jalen is one of those kids that everyone is going to love because he has one of those personalities that is going to make everyone smile,” said Tavis Myrick. Myrick explained that Morris was able to make this 180-degree turnaround as a year-round member of Gentlemen’s Quest and served as their student body president.

Future University of Central Florida graduate Axle Nunez-Perez was granted a scholarship to help him throughout college as her pursues a career in kinesiology. Nunez-Perez has only lived in the U.S. for two years since he left his family in Puerto Rico to gain a quality education at Lennard High School. He explained that he struggled in high school not only because he had moved to a new country, but that he moved in with his father, who he had not had a relationship with prior to the move.

Jaylen Wharton received a scholarship from Gentlemen’s Quest in addition to the full-ride scholarship he earned to go to the Air Force Academy. The Durant High School graduate is planning to continue to play basketball overseas and is hoping to major in counseling after overcoming his own personal struggles with “anger, bitterness [and] tension” after traumatic experiences, explained Myrick.

Jose Sandoval also earned a scholarship, which he plans to use at the University of South Florida while he majors in environmental engineering. Sandoval has six siblings, and their father was the sole provider. The Plant City High School graduate wants to provide sustainable products for low-income communities after his own experience working in the fields.

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