Empowering Greatness Scholarship Judges

Farah & Farah is pleased to announce the six judges for our 2nd Annual Empowering Greatness Scholarship. The judges will help us award five rising high school seniors across Florida a 2-Year Florida College Plan. The scholarship program recognizes deserving students in low-income, high-crime neighborhoods who are committed to breaking the cycle of poverty and gun violence through the pursuit of higher education.

 

Meet the Judges:

  • Rep. Anna Eskamani, Florida House of Representatives — District 47 (Orlando)
  • T-Neisha Tate, Jacksonville Jaguars Vice President of Social Responsibility and Impact (Jacksonville)
  • Angela Pruitt, Chief Human Resource Officer, Lee County Schools (Fort Myers)
  • Carlos Valdes, AMIKids Tampa Executive Director (Tampa)
  • Stewart Moore, WESH 2 News Anchor (Orlando)
  • Sarah Louis, 2020 Empowering Greatness Scholarship Winner, University of Florida student

 

We sat down with the judges to understand what the Empowering Greatness Scholarship means to them.

 

Sarah Louis 2020 Scholarship WinnerSarah Louis

2020 Empowering Greatness Scholarship Recipient

 

Q: How has receiving the Empowering Greatness Scholarship impacted you? 

 

A: Receiving the Empowering Greatness Scholarship impacted me in a positive way. The scholarship removed many of the financial burdens I dealt with during my junior year at the University of Florida. Because of the scholarship, I was able to focus on my studies and do well academically and serve my community as President of the Gator Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ( NAACP).

 

Q: What role do civic engagement and community service play in your life?

 

A: Civic engagement and community service play huge roles in my life. Being civically engaged has empowered me to use my right to vote via the ballot box and to use my voice to educate others about voting in local elections, filling out the Census, and informing others about their rights. Community service plays an equally impactful role in my life. My mother always taught the value of serving others, so whether I am fundraising for a local high school teacher and her students or making toiletry kits for the homeless, I know I am playing a small part in making the world a better place.

 

Q: What are your thoughts on the power of education to make a difference in our communities?

 

A: Education is so powerful. It can help to build communities, empower young minds, and develop groundbreaking technology. Having access to education has taught me the importance of servant leadership by pouring back into the communities that shaped me so that those that come after me can succeed.

 

Angela Pruitt Empowering Greatness Scholarship JudgeAngela Pruitt

Chief Human Resources, School District of Lee County

 

Q: What role do civic engagement and community service play in your life?

 

A: My entire adult life I have participated in civic and community endeavors. I believe it is important to give back to the community in which you live. From Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America to Habitat for Humanity and United Way, there are many ways to be involved.

 

Q: What advice would you give to a high school student who is nearing graduation? 

 

A: Believe in yourself and know that it is okay not to have it all figured out. Whether you are going straight to the working world, to a vocational school, or to college, enjoy the experience. Learn all you can, try new things, and make sure to try and be in the moment.  Life is short, enjoy the journey.

 

Q: Why did you choose to participate in the Empowering Greatness Scholarship judges panel?

 

A: As part of the Leadership Florida family, it was an honor to be asked to participate in this opportunity.  Providing these scholarships provides for the opportunity for students to pursue their greatness and therefore I believe this empowers them to succeed.

 

T-Neisha Tate Empowering Greatness Scholarship JudgeT-Neisha Tate

Vice President of Social Responsibility and Impact, Jacksonville Jaguars

 

Q: In a few sentences, how would you describe yourself?

 

A: I am entering my tenth season at the Jacksonville Jaguars as the Vice President of Social Responsibility and Impact.  I oversee the Jaguars Inspire Change platform, which seeks to drive systemic change and equality in Jacksonville by leveraging the power of football. In my previous role with the Jaguars Foundation, I oversaw youth programs and initiatives, including Honor Rows, the NFL’s largest charitable use ticketing program, educational partnerships, Youth Football, and NFL Play 60.  

 

I have worked in grassroots programming for more than twenty years and have a passion for partnering with programs that focus on creating safe out-of-school-time spaces in underserved communities. I also enjoy traveling, camping, listening to audiobooks, and spending time with friends and family in my spare time.

 

Q: If you could go back and give your 18-year-old self advice, what would it be?

 

A: I would tell my eighteen-year-old self to trust the process. Your journey will not be conventional, but you are intelligent and strong and more than enough to make it through all the rough times.  Listen to your gut. It has never led you wrong. Breathe and enjoy. Life goes by quickly. 

 

Carlos Valdes Empowering Greatness Scholarship JudgeCarlos Valdes

Executive Director, AMIKids Tampa

 

Q: What does “empowering greatness” mean to you?

 

A: Empowering greatness means being able to encourage someone that has the determination and potential to do or be something great in life. 

 

Q: What advice would you give to a high school student who is nearing graduation? 

 

A: Don’t settle for the norm. With everything you do, shoot for the best. Shoot to out beat everyone.

 

Q: What are your thoughts on how education can play a role in reducing or preventing gun violence?

 

A: Schools are meant to be a safe haven for many kids living in poverty. It starts with the educators and staff empowering kids to prevent gun violence – it’s a community approach. If we can empower one youth, that youth can go back into their community and empower and educate their peers.

 

Anna Eskamani Empowering Greatness Scholarship JudgeAnna Eskamani

Florida State House Representative for House District 47

 

Q: Tell us about an educator who made a difference in your life and why.

 

A: Mr. Norris was my AP Government teacher who got me back into politics as a seventeen-year-old. He’s been my biggest cheerleader for over a decade now. 

 

Q: In a few sentences, how would you describe yourself?

 

A: I’m a bold fighter for Florida families and everyday people. Born and raised in Orlando, I’m the daughter of working-class immigrants who came to this country in search of the American Dream. I went to the University of Central Florida and am a nonprofit professional currently seeking my Ph.D. in Public Administration.

I ran for office as a first-time candidate in 2018, flipped a legislative seat, and am proud to serve as the State House Representative for House District 47. With a track record of kind sacrifice, endless hard work, and iron-clad values, I am known across the state and nation as a leader who is unbothered, unbossed, and committed to the people of Florida. 

 

Q: Why did you choose to participate in the Empowering Greatness Scholarship judges panel?

 

A: If there’s any opportunity to serve the next generation of Florida’s leaders, then I will be there! We must be invested in our young people and do whatever it takes to help them achieve their dreams. 

 

Stewart Moore Empowering Greatness Scholarship JudgeStewart Moore

Anchor, Wesh 2 News

 

Q: What role do civic engagement and community service play in your life?

 

A: Civic engagement and community service are vital and constant in my life. I’ve moderated discussions on social justice, debates between candidates on multiple levels of government, and hot topics like gun violence and legislation proposals. It’s that dialogue that truly makes a difference. As far as community service is concerned, I’ve been on the board of the Orlando Union Rescue Mission for two years; however, I’ve been volunteering there for several years. I joined and then took over an initiative at OURM called “Baskets of Love.” I won’t get into all the details, but we collect toiletries and fun items for every member in the shelter and hand them out on Valentine’s Day.

 

Q: If you could go back and give your 18-year-old self advice, what would it be?

 

A: Aside from “buy google stock” or “buy bitcoin” – I’d say concentrate on the larger picture and focus on your goals. There’s a saying I use every single time I speak to a group of young people – Pray First. Aim High. Stay Focused. I wish I knew that then. I’ve learned that if you Pray before you set out on your goals, Aim high towards things you truly want to accomplish – no matter what anyone says, Stay focused on the goal. Every day should be dedicated to achieving your goal. Living by that simple phrase can inspire further growth.

 

Q: What advice would you give to a high school student who is nearing graduation?

 

A: I’d tell that young person to remember all the people they look up to, probably didn’t have half the smarts they have. A classic car is always tough to beat, but the newer rides have way more tech and capabilities. A graduating student is the newest car off the assembly line. They are the wildest dreams of the prior models.

 

If you are interested in applying for our Empowering Greatness Scholarship, click here to visit our page to fill out the application.