Katherine O'Mahoney will go to Florida State for two years without needing any loans, thanks to generous donations.
Recent Matanzas High School graduate Katherine O’Mahoney has a 5.2 GPA. She volunteered 350 hours. She scored 1330 on the SAT. But even with that resume, she didn’t expect $20,000 in scholarships, on May 21, when the Flagler County Education Foundation organized the deliveries in lieu of its yearly assembly.
O’Mahoney received eight scholarships, which will enable her to go to Florida State University for her first two years without taking out any loans.
“I’m so grateful,” she said in a May 26 phone call with the Palm Coast Observer. “They’ll help me immensely.”
One way O’Mahoney volunteered was helping to distribute food in Pierson with the Rotary’s Interact Club at Matanzas High School. She stood with her fellow club members from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. one Saturday each month, loading trunks in a line that stretched about 400 cars long.
“We were helping as many families as we could, and you could see their gratitude,” she said, adding that working alongside friends made it fun.
“If I can help people in any way, I’m going to do so regardless of the hours I earn, or the scholarship,” she said.
The Ed Foundation typically doesn’t deliver the scholarships; instead, there’s an assembly, and the organizations gather to watch students walk across the stage.
“It made you proud to live in a community where that many people care about graduating seniors.”
JOE RIZZO, Flagler County Education Foundation executive director
But Ed Foundation Executive Director Joe Rizzo said that could change in the future, based on the experience of the pandemic-inspired alteration this year.
“I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve had about how [the donors] would love for us to change the process,” Rizzo said.
When the donors got to hand over the scholarships personally, they could see the emotion in the parents’ eyes and in the students’ eyes. Connections were made, he said.
“I didn’t anticipate it being that impactful,” Rizzo said.
There were close to 200 people who gathered to participate in the delivery, which was also inspiring, he said. “It made you proud to live in a community where that many people care about graduating seniors.”