The Greater Heights Chamber of Commerce Community Fund, a 501c3 arm of the Greater Heights Chamber of Commerce held their annual Education Event on April 23, 2024 at SPJST Lodge 88, 1435 Beall St. where 30 scholarship recipients were recognized and the student entering the military upon graduation was honored.

The Frank M. Black Middle School Golden Knight Color Guard led by their Sgt. Arthur Collier were Commander, Cynthia Martinez, Flag: Roger Capuchino, Weapons: Amy Avellandeda and Jayden Oregon. From Helms Elementary, Isaias Hernandez, and Jaylah Lopez-Cruz led the Pledge of Allegiance.  Olga Chavez, School Social Worker, organized their participation.  Inspiration of the day, through poetry readings, were provided by Tawnie Breaux, GHCC Ladies in Action Chair, and Meg Crady, retired teacher.

Dr. Lindsey Pollock, President of Sarasota University and Ex. Director of Lian Dante Foundation gave the motivational speech for the crowd of parents, teachers, and chamber business professionals.

The Chamber was well represented with Natalie Coyle, Ambassador Chair, Dee Farino, Secretary, Steve Baker, Chair, Dr. April Petronella, Vice-Chair, and Cindy Reibenstein, Education Chair, all taking notable parts in the programming of the event along with the Chair President, James Montalbano.

The students and business sponsors for the scholarships were recognized as follows: For the ADAMS INSURANCE SERVICES Scholarships represented by Tracy Dacus , we have from Houston Christian High School, Emily Cezeaux has aspirations to work as an attorney for adoptions and work in the field of social work to make those families healthy and bonded and also from Houston Christian, Luke Pidgeon, who with his forensic science studies and firefighting plan to uncover truth in those areas. from Lutheran North Academy, we have Naomi Waiser has desire to care for others in all arenas And Mitchell Stephens plans to study classical and biblical literature so as a pastor he can make a difference in the lives of individuals and his congregational community and from S. P. Waltrip, Daida Garcia will study history and law to impact communities and make a difference in the lives of all served. And Tobias Eagan will uncover the truth with his criminal justice and detective areas of study.

Dr. April Petronella sponsors the Dr. Ann Vermillion Memorial Scholarship for her mother and this year   planning to become a motivational and educator speaker for the next generations as that is the future to impact for change is Alexander Velsquez from St. Pius X High School.

The Greater Heights Chamber of Commerce Community Fund, represented by Steve Baker, Chair, was able to sponsor 10 students this year. From Heights High School, Karissa Young studying nursing… And Cecilia Santiago plans to create architecture at Loyola Marymount University in California so she can build us a brighter community; From Houston Christian, Elizabeth Longwell plans to study nursing…  from Northside High School, Luis Aviles hopes to travel the world and study computer science and Angela Sibrian is going into education to help make a difference in this world and Lindsey Gonzalez will study crime analysis with forensic science so she can make the world a better place; from St. Pius X High School, Hannah Pampell studying physical therapy and social work so she can help individuals heal in a holistic way. From S. P. Waltrip High School, Cristina Rios will use the power of art to inspire emotions with creativity in all mediums as she begins to her study at Houston Community College;  Greta Siegel will address the challenges in pediatric oncology, for the child and the families and Hector Lima will study mental health. A GEM Partner with the Greater Heights Chamber we have Members Trust of the Southwest Federal Credit Union represented today by Liliana Canga, President; they sponsored three students; from  Heights High School, Zaria Smith will be that marketer you will want so you can take your business to greater heights. From Northside High School, Gabriela Lopez plans to be in financial management and build one’s capital for your dreams. And from St. Pius X High School, Joseph Diamond, plans to heal our beloved pet becoming a veterinarian. Another great GEM Partner of the Greater Height Chamber is Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital, being represented today is ……; they also sponsored three students; From Heights High School, John Vasquez who will be an anesthesiologist.  From St. Pius X High School, Sinclair Tomczeszyn plans to be that nurse you will want taking care of you and from S.P. Waltrip High School, Kennedy Doakes, that nurse to be with us during those health challenges we all will face. A community minded mortgage company, Movement Mortgage, represented by Steve Baker, sponsored the scholarship for Kiertsen Riggs from St. Pius X High School; she is planning to study computer programming so she can have a handle on the business world as she plans to study at Texas A&M. Another great GEM Partner of the Greater Heights Chamber is Primeway Federal Credit Union, represented by Tony Alman, sponsored three scholarships; from Heights High School, Kate Wabnitz will make a difference through her work with the homeless and becoming a non-profit business executive as she studies at Texas A &M; from Houston Christian High School, Josua Tilotta will combine the love of finance with law and surely make a difference in our lives as he also plans to study at Texas A&M and from S. P. Waltrip High School, Gael Serna studying finance so she can address poverty generationally. Reynolds and Associates, a CPA firm that loves this event, is led by Gene Reynolds; they sponsored Meredith Moreland from Waltrip who plans to study wealth management, business and finance; sounds like a great CPA to me! And from our bank in the Heights, Stellar Bank, represented today by Justin Vickrey; they too are very community minded; they sponsored Brian Ortiz from St. Pius X High School; he plans to make a difference in the community through his work in biology, nutrition—specifically targeting the food bank, people in need. From Tony’s Mexican Restaurant on Ella Blvd., we have representing them here today, Leo Vega. Their recipient, Wesley Hudgins, is from S. P. Waltrip High School… plans to bring harmony to all of us building peace and unity through music, as a current jazz musician with his own business and as a future music educator.

Our Military is what keeps our freedoms alive for us. The sacrifices and courage a person makes, the family makes, to ensure our way of life is something we all are to stand behind and give our utmost in support.  The community is stronger for people like our recipient this year.  Many years we have had multiple students enlisting in the military, this year we have one.  I am very proud to have from Lutheran North Academy, Isaiah Bohot, decision to enter the Air Force.  We have a small token, a multi-tool, that you can’t take with you initially, or they will take it—but take it later—that is what we are told is to do… It says “Take the Heights With You!”  We stand behind you and support of you.

There you have them, 31 super students, being recognized by your area Chamber from the businesses that support this great endeavor, The Education Committee is very proud of your support.  For the students you have given them the courage to fulfill their dreams as they are supported by their parents, teachers and community.  Each wants to make a difference; to make a better tomorrow.  We are proud to be a part of the process.

If you are interested in joining in the celebration next year, as a sponsor of scholarship, or committee, please contact the chamber office.  Thank you.