This student is a rising ‘star’
Pasco County Schools has announced Rohil Agarwal, a senior at Land O’ Lakes High School, as the district’s Star Senior for the 2023-2024 academic year. The award, which involved a rigorous selection process from among 15 finalists, recognizes Agarwal’s exceptional scholarship, leadership, service and citizenship achievements.
Agarwal has excelled in the International Baccalaureate Programme, maintaining a 4.7959 weighted GPA and a 4.0 unweighted GPA, earning him the designation of National Merit Semifinalist and AP Scholar with Distinction.
He also has held significant positions such as co-president of the DataEthics4All AI Youth Council, president of Mu Alpha Theta, district president of FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America), co-founder of the Coding Club, and president of HOSA (Future Health Professionals, formerly known as Health Occupations Students of America).
Agarwal has developed and taught ethics courses, directed AI hackathons, and led global tech talks. His community service includes volunteer work with Ekal Vidyalaya, and participation in GatorGrowl and Open House events.
The honoree also has multiple President’s Volunteer Service Awards and a recognition as a Sunshine State Scholar. He achieved first place in the National Congressional App Challenge, and achieved success in various state and regional competitions in HOSA, National History Day, and Robotics.
Agarwal’s extracurricular activities include: student researcher at Florida State University’s Young Scholars Program, a software engineer intern at Axiamatic, a key member of the Robotics FIRST Tech Challenge team, and a leader in Mu Alpha Theta and FBLA.
On the side, he has contributed as a graphic designer and private math tutor.
Creative Writing residency
Saint Leo University’s Master of Arts in Creative Writing Program will host a mini-residency in January at the campus, 33701 County Road 52 in St. Leo.
- Jan. 5, 5 p.m.: Craft discussion and reading by faculty member and military veteran Brooke King, followed by dinner with faculty members at 7 p.m.
- Jan. 6, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Craft discussions on writing and publishing, an open mic, and faculty readings
The mini-residency will take place in person and via Zoom. The cost is $25, which can be paid online at SaintLeo.edu/creativewriting. For information or to RSVP, email Anne Barngrover at . Requests for special accommodations can be made by emailing . For information, visit SaintLeo.edu/accommodations.
Commencement, nurse pinnings
Pasco-Hernando State College (PHSC) hosted commencement and nurse pinning ceremonies on Dec. 12 and Dec. 13, at its West Campus in New Port Richey.
PHSC President Timothy L. Beard presided over the commencement ceremonies for a final time before retiring in January. Jesse Pisors, Ed.D., is slated to assume the PHSC presidency role.
These ceremonies are dedicated to honoring and recognizing students who earned certificates and diplomas in varying fields of study, as well as those who earned an Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Applied Science degree.
The events included several keynote speakers: alumna Brianna Belle, Pharm.D.; Christa Tanner, Congressional staffer, U.S. House of Representatives; Dorian Howell, former PHSC SGA president; and current graduate Jamileh Hassan, SGA speaker.
Teacher of the Year finalists
Pasco County Schools has announced its three finalists for the 2024 Teacher of the Year award. These educators have been selected for their dedication, innovation and the profound impact they have had on their students and the community. The three finalists are:
- Stephanie Bertig, digital media educator, Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation
- William Rutherford, music educator, Gulf High School
- LeAnne John, Agricultural Science and CTE educator, Zephyrhills High School
The winner will be announced at a Star Dinner scheduled for Jan. 25.
National Scholars Program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting applications for the USDA 1890 National Scholars Program, which aims to encourage students at 1890 land-grant universities to pursue food and agriculture career paths. The deadline to apply is March 1.
Administered through the USDA’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement, the scholars program is available to eligible high school seniors entering their freshman year of college, as well as rising college sophomores and juniors.
The program is a partnership between the USDA and the 19 historically Black land-grant universities that were established in the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1890. The USDA partners with these 1890 universities to provide scholarship recipients with full tuition, fees, books, and room and board. Scholarship recipients attend one of the 1890 universities and pursue degrees in agriculture, food, natural resource sciences, or related academic disciplines. The scholarship also includes work experience at the USDA through summer internships.
Scholars accepted into the program are eligible for noncompetitive conversion to a permanent appointment with the USDA upon successful completion of their degree requirements by the end of the agreement period.
The USDA 1890 National Scholars Program awarded 100 scholarships in the 2023 cohort of 1890 Scholars.
Young people can complete and submit their e-applications online at USDA.gov/partnerships/1890NationalScholars.