Photo of Scholarship Recipient Sarah Breed

Sarah Breed (Stegall)

High School Graduation 2006

Scholarships Received: Polk County Financial Professional

“Growing up in Fort Meade and attending Southeastern University in Lakeland, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English. While at SEU, I worked as a freelance writer at The Ledger newspaper and, after college, Charisma magazine. In 2011, I moved to Jerusalem, Israel, to become a high school literature teacher. It was there I met my husband, Josh (a California native), who was already working there as a government/history teacher. We married in 2012. Soon after I began working for the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce before we returned to Jerusalem in 2014 for one year. Upon moving back to Lakeland, I began a second term at the Lakeland Chamber as Director of Initiatives, which included serving as the Program Director for the Chamber’s signature Leadership Lakeland program. After four years in this role, I was promoted to Chief Operating Officer. In 2021, I made a career change and started my journey at Parker Street Ministries—a Gospel-centered community development nonprofit in Lakeland—as Director of Development & Communications.

The Polk Education Foundation (PEF) scholarship jumpstarted my college education. I used the funds to participate in SEU’s Summer Scholars program and completed two courses in a short, but rigorous, two weeks. Because of this opportunity made possible by PEF, I confidently began my first year and felt ahead of the game and better prepared. This made me available to say yes to other career opportunities that may not have been possible otherwise. I am forever grateful to the Polk Education Foundation for its impact in my life, education, and career! “

Photo of Scholarship Recipient Cyndie Jone

Cydnie Jones

High School Graduation 2009

Scholarships Received: NuJak Companies & Polk County Builders Association

“Receiving a scholarship through Polk Education Foundation, aided me with gaining financial ability to attend an out of state school (on the top 10 list for a MLA) to pursue my current career path in Landscape Architecture. I attended University of Central Florida directly after I graduated from high school. I then transferred to Kansas State University (KSU) in fall 2010 to pursue a master’s degree in architecture; however, while in attendance my career interest shifted focus onto Landscape Architecture. While studying at KSU in 2014, I was granted an opportunity to be KSU’s first scholarship-sponsored student to study abroad for a semester at the University of Western Australia. Australia is an amazing sight! After my return from studying abroad, I researched, studied, and produced a published book of my master project and thesis in the spring of 2015. By the summer of 2015, I landed a job with an excellent engineering consultancy firm and have relocated several times in the last few years to assist the firm with their growth in government-oriented design. Right now, I am single and fully career- oriented, working on passing my last national exam to become a licensed Landscape Architect.”

Photo of Scholarship Recipient Faria Rasul

Faria Rasul

High School Graduation 2021

Scholarships Received: Suzanne Yeiser Memorial Scholarship and 2+2 Take Stock In Children

“Receiving a scholarship through PEF has helped me move closer in achieving my educational and career goals. Currently, I am a freshman at the University of South Florida working towards receiving my Bachelor’s Degree in Science, and this scholarship has benefitted me by covering costs of tuition and fees. Also, receiving this scholarship gave me a boost of confidence and showed me that I was capable of doing anything I put my mind to along with hard work and time. Earning this scholarship was a stress reliever because now I have less worries about payments and more of my time can go towards my studies and fulfilling my dreams!“

Photo of Scholarship Recipient Hannah Townley

Hannah Townley

High School Graduation 2021

Scholarships Received: Lakeland Sister Cities International Scholarship

“Through the Polk Education Foundation, my senior year of high school I was one of the recipients of the Lakeland Sister Cities International Scholarship, an organization that seeks to promote peace and cross-cultural understanding through community cooperation. These values had a significant impact on my college career. I studied abroad in Mexico, and completed an internship in Ghana, which broadened my horizons by introducing me to new cultures, but showing me that the mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation between others it takes to build a strong community are universal ideas. Throughout college, I worked on two long-term research projects focused on building peace: one on women’s rights around the world, and another on supporting immigrant communities right here in Florida. And now, working with Worldwide Opportunities for Organic Farmers on the Big Island of Hawai’i, I’m contributing to how sustainable food practices can be used to fight climate change and build healthier communities. Each of these values from the past few years can be traced back to the values of the Sister Cities scholarship through PEF my senior year, and I am incredibly thankful for it.”