Lori Price said the district’s annual selection of a Sunshine State Scholar was always a difficult choice.

The Assistant Superintendent for Instruction with Gulf District Schools said the committee charged with selecting one high school junior to represent the district entered into more than its share of debates.

This year, however, Sean Farnsley at Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School was a unanimous selection.

The district’s Sunshine State Scholar must be a high school junior interested in college at a Florida school while studying in a STEM area and carrying GPA of at least 3.9.

The student must also be eligible for a Bright Futures scholarship.

Those students must compose an essay and submit transcripts and the essay, minus any identifying characteristics, to a committee of educators which makes the selection.

A soccer athlete who is nearing the end of a track toward Eagle Scout, Farnsley spent part of last summer at Georgia Tech at a National Youth Leadership Forum focused on biomedicine.

He hopes to pursue a degree in biomedical engineering which a focus on the science and application of prosthetics.

Farnsley wants to assist those who have been severely injured or ill with being “active and mobile.”

“He’s going to represent our district well,” Price said. “I’m anxious to see where that young man goes.”


Farnsley’s essay:

My academic passion reaches beyond what I can learn in a textbook or hear in a classroom. I appreciate knowledge more when I can apply it and understand its relevance to me. As a dedicated scout since first grade, I have learned to be self-disciplined and fostered my passion to learn, grow, and teach others. As I moved up in rank, I learned and practiced the Cub Scout motto “Do Your Best” and presently as a Boy Scout, I practice the motto “Be Prepared.” I do quite a bit of online research and I watch documentaries of interest. About six years ago, I watched a Nike commercial that resonated with me. Nike’s slogan is “Just Do It” and I was impressed by an athlete running with two artificial legs. He was doing what years ago we could not imagine. He was running by using a capability that man made possible through innovation.

The field of prosthetics interests me and I want to change the lives of disabled individuals who are missing natural arms, legs, and other body parts. This field has advanced over time and the materials used to construct artificial body appendages has changed. Last year, I attended the National Youth Leadership Forum for Engineering and Technology held at the Georgia Tech University campus in Atlanta, GA. The sessions were diverse and part of the week included biomedical technology. I had the opportunity to use metal plates and rods to build the model of a prosthetic leg. During this session, I learned that the oldest documented artificial body part was a prosthetic toe made of wood and leather.

I am an avid soccer player and I enjoy watching sports. Health topics interest me and I follow advancements in sports medicine. I believe in doing what one enjoys and enjoying what one is doing. This philosophy is my academic passion. I am building upon who I am as an active lifestyle individual and reflecting what I have discovered about myself. A STEM-related field is a good fit for me as I like each component STEM represents. I am taking a diverse set of classes to prepare myself for college. My academic passion is complemented by what I learn and participate in beyond STEM as my extracurricular activities further my interaction, leadership, and communication skills.

My career goals are to help people be active and mobile and to enhance their quality of life when they have been physically restrained at birth or later in life. Currently, my postsecondary education plan is to pursue a four-year degree in biomedical engineering followed by a master’s degree program and residency in prosthetic technology. I would like to do an internship as part of my bachelor’s program to shadow an experienced professional and gain hands-on training in a state-of-the-art lab.

The greatest challenge America faces with STEM is developing a long-term interest in students at an early age to attract them to STEM-related education and careers. A hands-on learning curriculum that includes ways for students to explore and experiment in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics would engage youth to work individually and with others in group settings. As part of my career goals, I would enjoy showing prosthetic models and explaining how prosthetics work to youth and adults. I would contribute to this STEM challenge by visiting schools to encourage youth to think about innovation and what man can make possible through imagination. I would help stimulate creative “out of the box” thinking and refer to my academic passion and interests that were sparked early on through Nike and reinforce the message “Just Do It.”