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Florida Sheriffs Association Awards Scholarship to Outstanding STEM Students

May 05, 2016

Tallahassee, FL (May 4, 2016) – Each year, the Florida Sheriffs Association invests in the lives of exceptional students by awarding scholarships to some of the state’s hardest working and most talented individuals. Last year, the Florida Sheriffs Association received a generous donation of $20,000 from the Motorola Solutions Foundation to create a STEM scholarship for students pursuing a career in any STEM-related field (Science, Technology, Engineering or Math.) This program was open to any son or daughter of a full-time sheriff’s office employee. To be considered for scholarship, students submitted a five-page application and an essay on why they are passionate about studying in a STEM-related field. A committee of representatives from the Florida Sheriffs Association reviewed these applications and essays, selecting the top ten applications. The 2016 recipients of this scholarship are:

Braedon Villano – Georgia Institute of Technology

Braedon is the son of Christopher Villano, Homicide Detective in Dade County. Preparing to enter his first year at Georgia Tech, Braedon plans to study computer engineering and eventually start his own company. In high school, he served in several leadership roles such as senior class president, math honor society president and Spanish honor society vice-president.

Colby Tanner – Chipola College

Colby is the son of Kimberly Tanner, Finance Officer and Administrative Assistant of Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office. His passion for helping others led him to pursue a major in nursing at Chipola College this fall. Colby currently serves as president for Blountstown Future Farmers of America.

Erika Bishop – University of Florida

Erika is the daughter of Captain Rod Bishop who works in criminal investigations for Collier County Sheriff’s Office. She is currently studying biomedical engineering with a specialty in biomechanics, and hopes to work for a medical supply company after earning a master’s degree. Erika is passionate about helping others and plans to use her education to improve the lives of others by developing technology to be used for surgeries.   

Hannah Speece – Eastern Florida State College

Hannah is the daughter of Deputy Jason Speece of Brevard County Sheriff’s Office. She is currently an early admissions/dual enrollment student at Eastern Florida State College, but plans to transfer to University of Central Florida to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Hannah currently serves as the Student Government Association senior class vice president for her high school and earned a spot on the dean’s list this fall at Eastern Florida State College.

Kaleb Starr – Florida State University

Kaleb is the son of Community Service Officer Kimberly Starr of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.  He serves as secretary for the Health and Education Relief Organization, and traveled to Guyana on a medical mission trip with the group in 2015. Kaleb is currently a pre-med student and plans to specialize in anesthesiology. In the future, he hopes practice medicine in areas with great health care provider deficiency.

Meagan Shivers – Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Meagan is the daughter of John Shivers, the Administrative Lieutenant from Hardee County Sheriff’s Office. She is pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering with a concentration in aeronautics. Meagan is actively involved in the Air Force ROTC, aiding her goal of commissioning into the United States Air Force after graduation.

Noah Miller – University of Florida

Noah is the son of Major Julie Miller of Miami-Dade County Sheriff’s Office. Noah plans to use his degree in mechanical engineering to create new technology with the goal of helping those in need.  In the near future, Noah hopes to join an innovative research team in order to change the face of modern technology.

Saher Kidwai – University of Florida

Saher is the daughter of Saba Rahmani, Deputy Director of Finance for Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Her passion for engineering and spaceflight began at a young age on a school field trip to the Kennedy Space Center. Saher will be pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering at UF this fall, and hopes to design spacecraft for deep space exploration, perhaps working for NASA one day.              

Shannon Harrington – Catholic University of America

Shannon is the daughter of Lt. Col. Thomas Harrington of Broward County Sheriff’s Office. She will be working towards a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or astrophysics and plans to enter graduate school with a concentration in aerospace studies. Shannon also founded an afterschool STEM program for elementary aged female students called Tutus and Toolbelts and captained her high school’s forensics team.

Zachariah Soto – Florida SouthWestern State College

Zach is the son of Deputy Sheriff Luis Soto from Collier County Sheriff’s Office. He served as a platoon leader for JROTC for two years before becoming the S-5 Publicity Officer where he managed all website and publicity related matters. Zach is pursuing a computer science degree with the hopes of working as a computer programmer and eventually start his own software company.


The Florida Sheriffs Association is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation made up of the Sheriffs of Florida, approximately 3,500 business leaders and 70,000 citizens throughout the state. Founded in 1893, FSA has quietly served the citizens of Florida by supporting the needs of the state's law enforcement community. Through the Florida Sheriffs Association, Sheriffs are given a forum to address lawmakers to push for positive changes in Florida’s public safety arena. FSA also provides Sheriffs' Offices much-needed programs such as affordable training, special task forces and legislative and legal services.  Dedicated to the prevention of juvenile delinquency and the development of lawful, productive citizens, FSA has established and funded the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches with facilities throughout the state to help restore hope, fulfill dreams, and prepare boys and girls for the future. It has grown to be one of the largest and most successful state law enforcement associations in the nation. For more information on the Florida Sheriffs Association, visit [url=][/url].