Gina Rose Montalto
Gina Rose Montalto

By Bryan Boggiano

The Gina Rose Montalto Memorial Foundation is awarding $19,000 in scholarships for nursing students in honor of Gina Montalto’s 19th birthday.

Applications for the 19 for 19 Nursing Scholarship will remain open through Wednesday, Nov. 30.

Students across the country applying for a bachelor of science nursing degree at an accredited college or university can apply.

According to Tony and Jennifer Montalto, Gina’s parents, the organization started the scholarship in 2020 as a way to help frontline workers and nurses during the COVID pandemic.

Both said they know the type of person it takes to be a nurse since both have medical workers in their families.

While Gina did not express any nursing-related aspirations to them, her family remembers her as somebody who helped others in any way she could, whether being a big sister or volunteering with Girl Scouts.

“That kindness and compassion seemed to come naturally to Gina,” Tony said. 

To combine helping healthcare workers during a crisis and keeping their daughter’s helping spirit alive, they established the 17 for 17 scholarship in 2020, followed by the 18 for 18 scholarship in 2021.

Tony and Jennifer started these scholarships in honor of Gina’s 17th and 18th birthdays.

For the 2020 application, the foundation awarded 17 students each $1,000. In 2021, nine students received $2,000. The couple is still working through how many students will be awarded and how much funding each will receive for 2022.

Once they receive all applications and essays, Tony and Jennifer will evaluate each submission blindly,  then interview each of the applicants and choose recipients.

“We hope in their futures that they remember Gina and the scholarship granted in her name, and they pay it forward to someone else in the future,” Jennifer said. 

Tony and Jennifer established the Gina Rose Montalto Memorial Foundation after receiving questions from friends, family, and strangers from around the world asking how they could help after the school shooting on Feb. 14, 2018.

The foundation began awarding scholarships in 2019 to help students in the arts, STEM, Girl Scouts, and other fields in postsecondary education. They followed up with scholarships in 2020 and 2021.

Jennifer stated she thought they would award scholarships for one year only. However, after receiving as many as 200 applications before and with response still high, the foundation continued to help students.

Both she and Tony keep in touch with scholarship recipients, all of whom, she said, embody Gina in some way.

For Tony, the foundation is a way they keep Gina’s memory and spirit alive.

He said, “We were raising Gina to change the world, and we’re hoping through this scholarship and the foundation that she can still have a positive impact on it.” 

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Author Profile

Bryan Boggiano
Bryan Boggiano
A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan plans to pursue geosciences at Florida International University for his master's. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.

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