Top 10 Finalists for the Sam Budnyk Scholar Athlete of the Year Award Announced

May 7, 2009

Finalists Announced to receive $5,000 Sam Budnyk Scholar-Athlete Award

The Sam Budnyk Scholar-Athlete Award Committee of the Palm Beach County Sports Commission is pleased to announce the 2009 Sam Budnyk Scholar-Athlete Award finalists. The Sam Budnyk Scholar-Athlete Award, established and first awarded in 2005, is presented annually to a high school senior from public or private school in Palm Beach County. The student must be nominated by the school’s Principal and Athletic Director and must have demonstrated outstanding achievement in academics, athletics and community service. The scholarship is administered and judged by a panel of diverse, competent and independent individuals, and is named in recognition and celebration of the commitment, values and success of Sam Budnyk, Athletic Director at Cardinal Newman High School for forty-six years and head football coach for forty-three of those years. The $5,000 Award is renewable if the winner maintains academic and community service standards set by the Committee. Funds for the award are kindly donated by the Orange Bowl Committee, as well as Foundations, companies and individual donors.

The Finalists will be interviewed on May 12. A winner will be announces shortly thereafter and the winner will be honored at a banquet in June.
Previous winners are:

  • Raqueria Murvin, Pahokee High School, University of Central Florida (2005)
  • Danielle Bradley, The King’s Academy, Baylor University (2006)
  • Samantha Gutierrez, Palm Beach Central High School, Dartmouth College (2007)
  • Amanda Adams, Atlantic High School, University of Florida (2008)

After reviewing all 44 nomination forms, the Committee has named the following finalists for this year’s prestigious award;

Madeline Cohen, The Benjamin School
Madeline has a 4.06 GPA, scored a perfect 800 on the Verbal potion of the SAT and is a Pathfinder nominee in mathematics. She is a recipient of the Renssalaer Medal, Dartmouth Book Award, and is an AP Scholar with Honor. Madeline is captain of the varsity tennis team, and was on the varsity soccer, cross-country and volleyball teams. Madeline is also very active in the community, volunteering her time for various organizations including the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, St. Mary’s Hospital, and Habitat for Humanity, where she has acted as president both her junior and senior years. This National Merit Finalist has also been involved in Student Council throughout her high school career, taking on the position of vice president this year. She has participated in several special summer programs, including the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine in 2007, and the North Carolina Outward Bound School in 2008.

Madeline has been accepted to Duke University, University of Florida, New York University, Vassar College, and the University of Chicago. During her college years, she hopes to explore her passion, studying neuroscience and human behavior.

Kevin Goff, Wellington Christian School
Kevin has a 4.0 GPA, 2110 SAT score, and a 31 ACT score. He is a member of the National Honor Society, acting as historian his senior year, and has been nominated for the NHS Scholarship 2009. Kevin has been playing varsity baseball for Wellington Christian for 6 years, and he now serves as the captain of the team. He received the WCS Honorary Award in 2007 for pitching 2 “no-hitters” in district play, 2nd team All-State in 10th grade, and 3rd team All-State in 11th grade. He has also studied piano for the past 10 years, and is currently focusing on music composition, having composed several scores of music for piano. Kevin gives back to the community by volunteering at The Lord’s Place, Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation, and tutoring at his school.

Kevin’s ambition in life is to help others, and plans to do so by becoming a doctor.

Angel Hernandez, Pahokee Middle/Senior High
Angel is ranked number one in his class and has a 3.89 GPA. He is an International Baccalaureate Diploma candidate, and has been named the top migrant student in Palm Beach County for two consecutive years. This Student Government President is also a member of the National Honor Society and a Pathfinder nominee for Academic Excellence. Angel is captain of the varsity soccer team, plays varsity basketball, and plays in a city soccer league. He participates in various community activities including blood drives, Paint Pahokee, FBLA, and the American Red Cross Hurricane Disaster Relief Program.

Angel will be the first in his family to go to college, and he plans to use this opportunity to pursue a career in architecture.

Kirby Kempe, The Benjamin School
Kirby is the top student in her class with a 4.0 GPA and has scored a 35 on her ACT. She is a semi-finalist for the National Merit Scholarship, and has been nominated for the Pathfinder Award in Academic Excellence. Kirby is the captain of the varsity basketball team, a member of the varsity lacrosse team, and participated in varsity volleyball. She also plays travel basketball and lacrosse. She is actively involved in, and holds leadership positions in the Bella Cavallo Foundation, the Gift of a Dollar Foundation, PAWS, Human Rights Club, and the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Kirby was also an intern for FPL Project Development – Nuclear Division in 2008.

Kirby has been accepted to several universities, including Amherst College, Dartmouth College, Georgetown University and Vanderbilt University. Kirby has a passion for environmental studies, and wishes to pursue this during her college experience.

Sarvenaz Laussermair, Spanish River High School
Sarvenaz is ranked third in her class of 467, has an ACT score of 33, and scored a 2080 on her SAT. She has received the Scholastic Achievement Award in 12 high school classes, the National AP Scholar Award, and the Brown Book Award. This Pathfinder nominee for Academic Excellence has also received the National Merit Letter of Commendation. Sarvenaz was ranked first place in the State Science Olympiad for Environmental Chemistry and second place for physics. Her participation in athletics includes varsity volleyball for four years, where she is the team captain, varsity basketball her freshman year, and varsity weightlifting her sophomore and junior years. Sarvenaz is also proud of the positive influence she has had on her community through her involvement in tutoring students, serving as a volleyball referee, and participating in the Wellington Teen Council, where she helps keep local teens safe and out of trouble.

Sarvenaz plans to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she will study computer science and continue her volleyball career.

Melissa Luttio, Saint Andrew’s School
Melissa has a 4.26 GPA and is a National Merit Scholarship winner. She has also received the NCTE Achievement Award for Writing, the Brown Book Award, and the Smith Book Award. Melissa is an AP Scholar and has been on the Headmaster’s List for all four years of high school. She is the team captain for the varsity cross country team, and was the District and Region champion Class 1A in 2003, All-County First Team in 2004, and All-County Second Team in 2009. Melissa also participated in varsity track from 2001-2005. She serves the community by volunteering at Nativity Lutheran Church Vacation Bible School, SA Art Fair, and teaching for Breakthrough Collaborative at Saint Andrew’s School.

Melissa plans to attend Brown University, Tufts University, Harvard College, Princeton University, Middlebury College, or Notre Dame University. She wants to graduate as a pre-med gender studies major, and go on to medical school, eventually hoping to work for Doctors Without Borders and establish her own practice or clinic.

Courtney Marshall, Jupiter Community High School
Courtney is ranked in the top 10 of her class, maintaining a GPA of 4.0 and receiving a 32 on her ACT and a 2000 on her SAT. She has received many honors in the Palm Beach County Foreign Language Fair including the first place project in both 2006 and 2007. Courtney is also a recipient of the Lamp of Knowledge Award and Order of the Arrow Award from 2005-2009. She is the team captain of the varsity softball team, receiving the Golden Glove Award in 2008 and MVP in 2007. Courtney also plays softball for the Jupiter Seahawks Travel Team, participates in varsity weightlifting, and played JV soccer. In addition, this Spanish and Science National Honor Society member volunteers at First Baptist of Tequesta Church with their Fall Festival and Vacation Bible School, the Town of Jupiter Parks and Recreation Department as a camp counselor, and the El Sol Neighborhood Resource Center giving English lessons.

After high school Courtney plans to attend the University of Florida to study physical science and sports medicine.

Johanna Phillips, Cardinal Newman High School
Johanna has a 4.19 GPA, scored an 1880 on her SAT and a 28 on her ACT. She has been on the Principal’s List all four years of high school, and was the winner of the PROMISE award and National Educational Development Tests Award. Johanna is the captain of the varsity lacrosse and volleyball teams, and also plays on the varsity soccer team. She received the Scholar-Athlete Award her junior year in lacrosse, All-Area Honorable Mention 2008 for volleyball, and was invited to play in the 2008 Florida All-State Volleyball Competition. This National Honor Society and National Spanish Honor Society member volunteers at the Shores Animal Clinic, Coastal Cleanup, and the Holy Name of Jesus Church and School. She also holds a current license in resident hunting and fishing, as well as a Florida Certificate of Boating Education.

Johanna plans to attend the University of Florida with hopes of becoming a veterinarian, and continuing with athletics and coaching.

Erica Pino, Jupiter Community High School
Erica is the Valedictorian of her class with a 4.95 GPA. She is a recipient of the Order of the Arrow, Lamp of Knowledge, and the Cornell Book Award. Erica is an AP Scholar with Distinction and is a Pathfinder nominee for Sports. This FAU Engineering Design Contest Finalist is also captain of the varsity basketball team, flag football team and JTAA travel basketball teams. She has been honored as the Jupiter Jaguars travel basketball season MVP, varsity flag football All-Conference Team selection, and varsity flag football All-Area team selection. Courtney is a member of the Spanish, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science, and English National Honor Societies. Her community involvement includes volunteering at the Palm Beach County Library, Elementary School Media Center, and assisting as a recreational coach for basketball and soccer.

Erica will be attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology this fall, majoring in chemical engineering. After receiving her undergraduate degree, she hopes to attend Stanford University to earn her doctorate in Genetic Engineering.

Scott Staniewicz, Spanish River High School
Scott has a 4.74 GPA and is ranked 15 out of 463 students in his class. He is a National Merit Finalist, winner of the Character Counts Award, and a Sunshine State Math and Science Scholar. He plays both varsity soccer and baseball, and has participated in freshman football and Surfing Club. Scott was named both Offensive Player of the Year and MVP in 2008, and Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 for baseball. This Student Council President is an active volunteer for the Susan Komen Walk for Breast Cancer and Spanish River High School summer volunteering. He has also worked as an instructor for the St. Andrew’s Country Club Fitness Center.

Scott plans to continue his athletic career as he begins college next fall.

The Sam Budnyk Scholar-Athlete Award is presented annually through The Palm Beach County Sports Commission to a high school senior in Palm Beach County. Additional information on the award and Palm Beach County Sports Commission activities can be found at

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