Scholarship Winner 2016

Jessica Zelitt, a Lakewood Ranch High School senior who lives in Summerfield, was selected as the LWRWC first annual scholarship recipient. The Philanthropy Committee was extremely impressed with her dedication to community service, her exemplary character, and outstanding achievements.

Jessica has performed 528 hours of community service to organizations, mostly in leadership roles! She also has a weighted GPA of 4.7 and is an AP Scholar with a Distinction Award. Included in her Community Service Scholarship application package, were glowing recommendation that Jessica received from educators who consider her the hope for the future.

Interview with LWRWC Community Service Scholarship Winner, Jessica Zelitt

Question: Jessica, what inspired your passion for community service?
Jessica’s Answer: When I was ten years old, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. This was a very difficult time for me as I started to lose my hair from chemotherapy treatments. My parents enrolled me in theater camp at Florida Studio Theater (FST) to help me feel more confident and provide me with a way to escape my illness. FST ended up doing all of this and more. I fell in love with performing and found new confidence in myself. After this wonderful experience I knew that I wanted to return to FST and give back all that organization gave to me.

Question: What was your most rewarding community service activity?
Jessica’s Answer: Out of all the community service activities that I have participated in during my high school career, my time spent at with the Florida Studio Theater (FST) has been the most valuable and rewarding. My FST service included working as a teen intern in the special needs acting program and the summer camp program. I also assisted in developing concepts and monologues for the recital. My community service at FST has been a great experience, teaching me things that I will use for the rest of my life.

Question: What specific “life skills” did you learn from your community service work with Florida Studio Theater?
Jessica’s Answer: There are multiple life skills that I learned though my service at FST.   The first skill is responsibility. In my future, this skill will play an integral role in my professional success because I will consistently follow through on what I am asked to do and will not let down those who rely on me.  Patience and a greater appreciation for diversity are other important skills I honed while volunteering at FST; particularly while working as a teen intern for the special needs acting program.  Working with the special needs program was one of my favorite experiences. I had never worked closely with the disabled before and did not know what to expect. The students, however, were terrific, easy to talk to and had a great sense of humor.  They taught me that those with special needs are not so different from those without them. As I move forward in life, patience will help me take a step back from a situation and analyze it before I react and I am no longer apprehensive to interact with those who are different from me. These skills will bring me greater success in building relationships with people throughout my career. Lastly, through my service at FST I learned how to be a leader. The important leadership skills that I learned will enable me to take control of situations and will facilitate more rewarding life experiences.

Question: What other rewarding community service activities have you been involved with during your high school career?
Jessica’s Answer: I work with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation as a youth ambassador and advocate for diabetes research funding. I participate in the walk to cure diabetes every year and serve as a Team Captain. I also helped to start a social group for teens with the disease in this community. This cause is near and dear to my heart because I have diabetes and constantly wear an insulin pump. Another community service activity that I find rewarding is my work with Lakewood Ranch Bands. I serve as an officer of band program and have actively participated in various fundraising activities. I have also enjoyed my volunteer work at Kobernick House/Anchin Assisted Living where I spent time helping the residents and assisting with various activities.

Question: In addition to your dedication to community service, what are your other favorite extracurricular activities?
Jessica’s Answer: I am involved in several extracurricular activities that I really love. For example, I have been very active in Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). I served as Chapter President (2014-2015), Florida Vice President of Parliamentary Law (2014-2015 and am honored to have won four Gold Medals in competition. I am very musical and enjoy being a member of the Lakewood Ranch High School Bands. I am a member of the Marching Band, Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band. I serve as Low Woodwind Section Leader, Woodwind Sergeant and Librarian and I was chosen to attend the Festival of Winds, Honor Band Festival at USF. I am also very involved in United Synagogue Youth, where I serve as a member of the Executive Board and won the “chapter on the rise” award. Other activities include serving on the Junior Advisory Board, and being a member of Quill and Scroll, the National Honor Society, and the Academic Team.

Question: As a high school student, you have received many impressive awards and honors. Which awards are you the most proud of receiving?
Jessica’s Answer: I am thrilled to have been awarded the 2015 Anne Frank Humanitarian Award, the 2015 Florida Association for the Gifted Scobee Scholarship, and an AP Scholar with Distinction Award, and I am honored to be the recipient of the first annual LWRWC Community Service Scholarship.

Question: What are your immediate plans after you graduate from LWR High School?
Jessica’s Answer: I accepted an offer of admission to USF’s provost program. This is a 3 year track for college and I will major in physics. I really hope to work at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland to look at more efficient ways to combat cancer using physics.