By Jill Fox
The Gina Rose Montalto Memorial Foundation was established in memory of Gina, a victim of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018.
Gina’s mother, Jennifer, said she always took great pride in her education and looked for ways to help others. To honor her memory, the Montalto family set up a foundation to help students with college expenses.
“Gina had her toes in everything, and we want to give the money to kids just like her,” said Jennifer.
Students who applied could either attend a Broward County public school, Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High School, or Pelham Memorial High School in New York. Since Tony is a United Airlines Captain, the scholarship programs are also open for children of employees.
There were over 200 competitive applications submitted. In a blind judging process, where members of the Foundation couldn’t see the applicants’ names or schools, the field was narrowed down to the top three entries from each category.
“The Foundation received applications from young men and women from Florida to Maine, from New York to California and even as far away as Guam,” said Tony Montalto, Gina’s father, a Parkland resident and Foundation president.
In November, the Foundation awarded its inaugural STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and Arts Scholarships, each worth $5,000. The two recipients had the combination of high grades and excellent communication skills that propelled them to the top.
Devon Ott, of Dover, Delaware, was the recipient of the Arts scholarship. This is awarded for a student pursuing studies in a field, such as dance, music, theater, or visual arts. Ott is currently pursuing a degree in graphic design at George Washington University.
Jillian Meloro, of Plantation, was this year’s recipient of the Girl Scout Gold Award Scholarship. As a proud member of the Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida since kindergarten, Gina had her heart set on achieving the highest honor in that organization. Sadly, she was unable to reach that goal. Therefore the Foundation offered Meloro the $1,500 scholarship for achieving this award.
Angela Peck, of Pound Ridge, New York, was the recipient of the STEM Scholarship. Peck is a biomedical engineering student at Tufts University.
According to the Foundation, the three scholarship recipients are pursuing degrees in areas of interest that Gina excelled in, and all exemplify her passion for learning, caring, and helping others.
The window for scholarship application submissions for next year will reopen again in February. To apply, visit the Gina Rose Memorial Foundation.
For those interested in contributing to the scholarship foundation, Donate here.
- Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She is currently a Senior Account Director at Lon Haber & Co. Fox worked at NBC Miami for eight years after graduating from the University of Miami. She lives in Parkland with her husband, Brian and two children.
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