By Jill Fox
A Parkland resident was among the 17 recipients of nursing scholarships awarded by The Gina Rose Montalto Memorial Foundation.
Julia Merfogel, a freshman at Florida State University, received a $1,000 scholarship from the non-profit organization, which helps students with the cost of post-secondary education. The foundation also makes charitable donations to causes Gina supported before her life was taken on February 14, 2018.
Merfogel, 18, of Heron Bay, graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2020 and was inspired to pursue nursing after her father survived cancer.
“I wanted to give back in the same way the nurses cared for my father when he was sick,” she said.
In response to Covid-19, the foundation awarded additional scholarships. To commemorate Gina’s 17th birthday, they set a goal to raise $17,000 to fund 17 scholarships for nursing students across the country.
“We wanted to help bolster the ranks of those frontline healthcare workers who have tirelessly served and helped heal thousands of Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gina’s father, Tony.
Other scholarship recipients were Amber Allen, Eniola Ashade, Savannah Belcuore, Allyson Boli, Emraude Bonnet, Jennifer Cruz-Flores, Macy Gallowdy, Bridgette Gardea, Hannah Golik, Sheila O’Connor, Grace O’Rourke, Margaux Palmentiero, Cynthia Peeler, Sophia Rothenberg, Gitel Schuck, and Samantha Trahan.
Gina’s mother, Jennifer, said throughout the application and interview process, it was apparent that these recipients were qualified, passionate, and kind.
“They all exemplified Gina’s passion for learning, caring, and helping others.”
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- Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She has worked on the public relations side as well as the television side of marketing for NBC Universal. A true Floridian, Fox grew up in Ormond Beach and now resides in Parkland with her husband, Brian and their two children, Madden, 11 and Randi, 7.
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