Ron Ciaravella never thought he would be in a place where he could award scholarships, but on Aug. 1 he handed out six $1,000 scholarships to rising college freshmen from the Sarasota area.
Owner of Dolphin Aviation, an aviation services company, Ciaravella began the scholarship program 18 years ago to “support collegiate efforts and encourage tomorrow’s innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders.”
The $1,000 scholarship had 74 applicants from which six students received a one-time award to the students during their freshman year.
Academics are not the main factor in Ciaravella’s selection process. Instead he said he often looks for B and C students from single parent homes who need the extra financial help.
Starting out as a flight instructor when he was 19 at Dolphin, Ciaravella worked his way up to buy the company in 1979, which was something he says was done through working hard each day –– advice he passed onto the new college freshmen.
“Opportunities don’t come to you, you go to them,” Ciaravella told them.
Several of the recipients hope to enter the health field to help people who are going through situations that they themselves have experienced.
Recipient Asheley Mayes, 18, will attend Valdosta State University in Georgia this fall to study nursing. She hopes to become a hematology nurse and work with patients with blood disorders like anemia and sickle cell, which she has dealt with in her own life.
Clarissa Miller, 18, decided on her double major in biology and psychology at Florida Gulf Coast University to work with people in the mental health field.
“I've done a lot of mental health advocacy, and I know if I go into that field that's something I can continue to do,” Miller said.