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Women In Defense Space Coast Awarded $16K in STEM Scholarships to Space Coast Students on June 15th in Cocoa Beach

A total of $16,000 in STEM scholarships was awarded to twenty-one Brevard County students on Thursday, June 15th at the Courtyard by Marriott Cocoa Beach. The event featured Krista Dawson, PMP, Executive Director of Engineering Services for Axient, as guest speaker.

The 2023-24 WIDSC STEM Scholarships varied from $325 to $1,000 in unrestricted cash awards for exceptional Brevard County women seeking to further their education in STEM studies who’ve demonstrated an interest in starting and furthering a career that supports the national defense industrial base. Awards are based on academic achievement, field of study, work experience, statements of interest, and recommendations. Applications for 2023 awards closed April 23rd.

“We had an overwhelming response for scholarships this year,” says WIDSC STEM Chair Leslie Tibbetts of Community Credit Union. “It’s an honor to lend support to students in our local community and help to build a more diverse and stable workforce on the Space Coast.”

The recipients are as follows:

  • Emma Aiken, Palm Bay, Forensic Science at University of Florida
  • Ashleigh Antaloci, Palm Bay, Nursing at Eastern Florida State College
  • Willow Ash, Merritt Island, Biology at University of Central Florida
  • Deztynee Bryan, Melbourne, Meteorology at Florida Tech
  • Elizabeth Eskildsen, Cocoa, Business Management at Eastern Florida State College
  • Gianna Fernandez, Rockledge, Computer Science & STEM at University of Florida
  • Nuha Haque, Melbourne, Behavioral-Cognitive Neuroscience at University of Florida
  • Emma Havel, Melbourne, Actuarial Science at University of Central Florida
  • Kayla Havel, Melbourne, Baccalaureate at New College of Florida
  • Lydia Hinkle, Melbourne, Education at Florida Atlantic University
  • Alexis Linder, Rockledge, Mechanical Engineering at Florida Tech
  • Lena Martinez, Palm Bay, Health Sciences at University of Central Florida
  • Amira McKaige, Titusville, Computer Engineering & International Affairs at Florida State University
  • Chloe Nason, Mims, Sports Management at Eastern Florida State College
  • Taylor Rendina, Titusville, Health Sciences at University of Bridgeport
  • Marisa Ricks, Cocoa Beach, Biology at University of Florida
  • Josette Roach, Melbourne, Organizational Management at Eastern Florida State College
  • Victoria Scabarozi, Cocoa, Associate of Arts at Eastern Florida State College
  • Abigail Shepard, Indian Harbour Beach, Neuroscience & Interdisciplinary Mathematics at Florida Atlantic University
  • Christina Souvannala, Patrick AFB, Library & Information Science at University of Illinois Ubrana-Champaign
  • Paulina Tawrel, Melbourne, Environmental Engineering at University of Florida

WIDSC established the Space Coast STEM Scholarship Fund in 2013 to encourage women in Florida to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) related to the national security and defense interests of the United States. Since its inception, WlDSC has now awarded over $90,000 in scholarships and contributed to numerous STEM-related events in partnership with local businesses, non-profits, and Federal agencies such as Patrick Space Force Base.

Event guests were invited to bid on an array of silent auction items generously donated by local businesses to include ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, Buds & Bows Floral Design, Chick-fil-A, Costco, Cloud 9 Real Estate Group, Courtyard by Marriott Cocoa Beach, Etc. Shoppe, Hampton Inn Cocoa Beach, Mister Car Wash, Pint & Pistol, Suntree Country Club, to name a few. A full list of sponsors and donors supporting the WIDSC STEM Scholarship Fund can be found here.

Fundraising efforts are conducted throughout the year to include sponsored events such as the most recent 6th Annual Sandbagger Invitational Golf Tournament held at Baytree on May 19th and the Tenth Anniversary Celebration held at L3 Harris in January. Donations are accepted year-round.

Networking and professional development events are organized to help connect individuals and local companies to opportunities for workforce and business development. WIDSC currently has over 100 members. Details for upcoming events can be found here.

If you would like more information about WIDSC STEM scholarships and awards, please contact Leslie Tibbetts at or 321-258-8504.

See more event photos.