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FAU Student's Opportunity Arises From A Tradgedy Now Turned Legacy

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FAU Student's Opportunity Arises From A Tradgedy Now Turned Legacy

This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of the drowning death of prominent local attorney Robert N. “Bobby” Klein. He died on Bob Graham Beach on Memorial Day last year, trying to rescue his two sons from a rip current.

Yet Klein wasn’t only a hero to his own kids. He cared passionately about many others, too.

According to friend and fellow attorney Michael Minton, a trustee of Indian River State College, Klein was instrumental in the creation of the President’s Challenge/Take Stock in Children scholarship program 12 years ago.

Coincidentally, it was this week that 60 students received their scholarships in a ceremony Monday evening at IRSC. It was announced that an endowment in Klein’s name will pay the college bills of one student per year.

The Take Stock program is interesting on several levels.

First, because it targets students who, without financial and mentoring assistance, might not graduate from high school let alone go to college.

“The program through the school system identifies students who show aptitude but are ‘at risk’ due to socio-economic factors beyond their control … ” Minton said.

Second, the program identifies kids in eighth- or ninth-grade as likely candidates and then promises them a free, four-year college ride if they’ll sign a pledge to keep their grades up and stay out of trouble.

It has been a resounding success, boosters say, and the testimonial of an engaging scholarship recipient and recent IRSC graduate, Uriel Garcia, on Monday evening was proof of that.

I also had a chance to speak with Jessica Laurent, 22, who graduated from high school in 2005. Late last year, Jessica graduated as a registered nurse from IRSC. She now works on the third floor at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center & Heart Institute in the Progressive Care Unit. And she’s not done yet with learning. She’s currently working on her master’s at Florida Atlantic University and hopes one day to become a nurse practitioner.

Did the Take Stock program help her?

“Oh, yes. Without the scholarship it would’ve been much harder for me to get through college. (In addition to the money) you also get a mentor who helps keep you on track, even with your personal life. I went to my mentor, Erin Cox with the (Indian River State College) Foundation, for everything. She really helped me make the transition from high school to college.

“I got to speak at one of the graduation ceremonies a couple of years ago. I told students then, ‘Take advantage of this opportunity. It pretty much changed my life and allowed me to accomplish my dreams and goals.’ ”

If she continues on her career path, inside five years Jessica will be at the pinnacle of her profession.

Bobby Klein, an active mentor himself, would have heartily approved.

Source:  Anthony Westbury - tcpalm.com

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