Pathfinder 2018 interviews: Top students face the judges

March 07, 2018
Pathfinder nominees Heydan Athieh, 17, from left, Joshua Mckellop, 18, Aaron Simons, 17, Miranda Boodheshwar, 18, and Morgan McClure, 18, during the 2018 Pathfinder Palm Beach/Martin County Scholarship Awards nominee interviews at Palm Beach Atlantic University Wednesday in West Palm Beach. Reach for Excellence nominee Joshua Mckellop, 18, a Palm Beach Lakes High School student was happy with his interview. “I did really good, outstanding actually.” (Meghan McCarthy / The Palm Beach Post)

Hundreds of high school students dressed in interview attire descended Wednesday on Palm Beach Atlantic University to compete for the coveted Pathfinder awards and scholarships. The 35th annual awards are presented by The Palm Beach Post.

The students brought trombones and life-size costumes. They fought nerves and demonstrated their best business etiquette. And they each took a deep breath before the big moment: a 10-minute interview with a panel of Pathfinder judges.

In all, 561 nominees were expected to appear before 54 judges deliberating in 18 categories. It’s big money: $171,000 in college scholarships are at stake.

“I am reminded every year during the Pathfinder interviews and ceremony that our future is very bright,” Palm Beach Post Publisher Timothy D. Burke said Wednesday. “It is a privilege for The Post to honor them.”

The top students, nominated by their schools in Palm Beach and Martin counties, compete in categories including academic excellence, art, business, community involvement, drama, foreign language, speech, literature, mathematics, music and science.

The impressive students seemed impressed with the process. Communications nominee and Oxbridge Academy student Aaron Simons, 17, said his interview went well. “The judges were surprisingly personable. It was really nice.”

Scholarships of $4,000 for the first-place winner, $3,000 for the second-place winner and $2,500 for the third-place winner in each category will be presented May 17 at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach.

Top winners in each category also will receive the “astrolabe” trophy, a symbol for the path each student may follow in the world and the leadership and direction each may provide for others.