You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

Pathfinders showcase the hidden wealth of our high-achieving teenagers


If you’re looking for a simple way to become instantly inspired, humbled, and reassured about the future, here’s what you need to do.

Read the nomination packets for the local teenagers applying for the annual Pathfinder Scholarship Awards presented by The Palm Beach Post. For the past 34 years, this program has presented millions of dollars in scholarships to graduating high school seniors in 18 categories — everything from art and community involvement to mathematics and literature.

What the winners have already achieved in their young lives will floor you. But what’s more impressive to me is not to focus on the so-called “winners”, but to look at those nominees who didn’t quite make it to the top of the pile.

After all, the measure of a good orchestra, isn’t how good the first-chair player is, but how good the musicians are who are sitting down the row.

And that’s when you really get floored by the Pathfinders, by looking at the second- and third-place finishers, those kids who are awarded $3,000 or $2,500 each for their accomplishments, but stand in the shadows. Don’t believe me? Here’s just a sample of the kids who didn’t “win” at this year’s competition.

Speaking of great violinists, there’s Phillip Taylor, the Oxbridge Academy graduate who was a first violinist with the Palm Beach Atlantic University Symphony when he was in the eighth grade. But wait. Violin isn’t his main instrument.

He’s really a piano player, one good enough to win Downbeat magazine’s National Student Award for jazz soloists, and to be the only piano player selected, in his sophomore year, to play in Florida’s All-State Jazz Band.

But wait. Music’s not really his thing. Taylor wasn’t even applying for a Pathfinder in music. That’s just something else he does. He’s really good at speech and debate. He even does it in Spanish. Oh, and he’s proficient in Latin and Hebrew too. But wait. Language isn’t his category either.

He’s really into Molecular Biology and Math, which explains why the Max Planck Florida Institute of Neuroscience hired him as a research intern while he was still in high school. He’s apparently interested in “engineering a multi-culture automated media perfusion system for in vitro neuronal sustenance and pharmacological manipulation at the microscope stage.”

Whatever that means. Anyway, the point is Taylor didn’t win in the category of Academic Excellence. He was an also-ran, finishing in third place. Imagine that.

And what about Chrystie Tyler, the Dreyfoos School of the Arts senior? You’d think she would be a lock in the Community Involvement award category. She founded a baking club at her school and then used it to partner with teens with developmental disabilities, a project through Seagull Academy she funded by successfully writing a $10,000 grant proposal.

Tyler, a gifted visual artist, also combined her talent, compassion and knowledge of biological sciences to get an internship with a research company that allowed her to build a 3-D printed prosthetic hand for a local boy born without a hand, someone she had met through her baking adventure. And her multi-faceted expertise in art and science has already led to her creating medical illustrations published as instructional material in a medical textbook.

Tyler’s another third-place finisher.

I could go on and on. One story is as inspiring as the next.

OK, one more. You need to hear about Foreign Language nominee Samuel Rahman, another third-placer. Rahman grew up in Belgium, the son of a Dutch mother and Bengali father. So he learned to speak Dutch, French and Bangla. And then he picked up some English and German before his family moved to the United States six years ago.

But book learning didn’t come easy. Rahman discovered he had dyslexia, a reading disability that makes it hard for the brain to process written language.

“My processing speed was ranked in the 3rd percentile, but I did not give up!” Rahman wrote earlier this year on his Pathfinder goal statement. “Now, in the first semester of 12th grade, I have completed my ACT test for the 7th time, and my score is 27.

“This will not be my last test; I am determined to be a warrior and get at least a 30 or higher.”

Rahman plans to use his proficiency in seven languages to pursue an international acting and singing career.

In the meantime, he’s learning about business. He founded the Leaders of Tomorrow Club at Jupiter High School, teaches other students by discussing Sean Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens” and has started his first business.

“In the entrepreneurial spirit, Sam recently bought his first fixer-upper home and made a deal with a local handyman in which he could stay in the home free of charge for several months while he fixed up the home,” wrote Susan Garcia, one of Rahman’s teachers.

Rahman, like so many of the other nominees, have made their marks not only in their accomplishments, but in their humanity.

“On a personal note, Samuel is one of the kindest students I have met,” English teacher Melanie Sturgill Jones wrote of Rahman. “He is a student I am proud to have taught and will long remember.”

So if you need to remember something inspiring, humbling, or reassuring, remember this about our newest batch of high school graduates: There are more “winners” out there than get counted.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Ex-Bak Middle School treasurer arrested on forgery charges
Ex-Bak Middle School treasurer arrested on forgery charges

A former Bak Middle School of the Arts treasurer suspected in the disappearance of more than $66,000 in school money was arrested Friday on check-forgery charges related to the case, nine months after authorities had ruled out criminal charges against her. Cathleen Spring, 53, was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail shortly after midnight Friday...
Palm Beach County ‘mansion parties’ becoming unruly and problematic
Palm Beach County ‘mansion parties’ becoming unruly and problematic

When Alfred and Jan Malley leave town for the summer, they count on their property manager to keep watch of their $9.87 million house — located in the Estate Section of Palm Beach known for its large mansions. One day this past May, the manager had his family over. Then his children told their friends about the house. And they told their...
NEW: Florida man caught with credit-card skimmers during traffic stop
NEW: Florida man caught with credit-card skimmers during traffic stop

An Orlando man’s erratic driving brought some him unwanted attention this week from Martin County sheriff’s deputies. Yudiel Bayon Garica’s day only got worse after deputies allegedly found him in possession of a credit-card skimmer, a credit-card reader and more than a dozen stolen credit cards. Garcia, 29, was taken into custody...
TSA agent stole from passenger's belongings, police say
TSA agent stole from passenger's belongings, police say

A Transportation Security Administration agent has been arrested after he was accused of stealing money from a passenger at Orlando International Airport in Florida, Orlando police said. Alexander Shae Johnson, 22, was arrested Thursday night. Passenger Kathleen Duddleston entered the TSA checkpoint and was stopped for additional screening, police...
Delray police seek men who injured, robbed elderly woman at Walgreens
Delray police seek men who injured, robbed elderly woman at Walgreens

A surveillance image of two men who allegedly robbed an elderly woman in Delray Beach on Friday, June 23, 2017. Police are looking for the men. (Delray Beach Police Department)   DELRAY BEACH — City police are looking for two men captured on video knocking an elderly woman to the ground and robbing her Friday...
More Stories