HEAT Legend Shane Battier Surprises Award Recipients with Virtual Visit
Miami HEAT legend Shane Battier surprised five South Florida high school graduates and paid them a virtual visit to notify them they would each receive a $5,000 Miami HEAT Scholarship presented by BankUnited and the Miami HEAT Charitable Fund.
For seven years, BankUnited has partnered with the Miami HEAT to award scholarships to students who have demonstrated excellence in academics and community service. Typically presented center-courtat a Miami HEAT game, this year’s recipients signed on to a virtual conference for what they thought would be one final interview, only to be surprised by Battier informing them they had been awarded a scholarship.
“In partnership with the Miami HEAT, our commitment to providing college scholarships is one of the many ways BankUnited helps to lift up the next generation of business and community leaders,” said BankUnited Executive Vice President and Head of Consumer and Small Business Banking Lisa Shim. “Today’s graduates already have shown themselves to be resilient in the face of some of life’s toughest challenges, and it is as important as ever that we continue to come together and find ways to support them on their path of learning. We congratulate these five South Florida high school graduates and the entire class of 2020,and wish them all the best as they pursue their dreams and embark on their next stage of life.”
This year’s winners of the scholarships totaling $25,000 are:
Logan Alvarez won the Alec Kessler Student-Athlete Scholarship, awarded to a student athlete who excels in academics and community service. A graduate of Miami Southridge Senior High School, Alvarez plans to study pre-law at Florida International University. He was a member of the varsity football and track teams, and received honorable mention for the 2020 Silver Knight Awards in the athletics category. During high school, he founded and later served as president of the Special Olympics Unified Sports Program at his school, after having applied for and received a grant in 2017. As a result of his efforts, ESPN recognized Southridge Senior High School as one of the top five Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools in the nation. He also served as president of his school’s chapter of Best Buddies, ultimately dedicating more than 1,400 volunteer hours to community service.
Tatiana Barnes, winner of the Dr. Jack Ramsay Scholarship recognizing students who excel in academics and community service, is a graduate of Miami Country Day School. She plans to study business administration at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in the fall. An active member of her school’s softball and varsity cheerleading teams, Barnes was named to the Director’s List throughout high school for earning all A’s and B’s, and earned a spot on the Headmaster’s List in 11th grade for earning all A’s. She was one of five seniors at Miami Country Day School selected to participate in a GATEway Study Abroad program in Spain. Barnes has volunteered more than 1,000 community service hours, including with Breakthrough Miami, where she taught 5th grade math and coached softball, and was named “Teaching Fellow of the Summer” in recognition of her efforts. She also volunteered with the Liberty City Optimist Program, where she was a junior cheer coach in the South Florida Pop Warner League.
Isabel Armedilla is one of three recipients of a Miami HEAT Scholarship in recognition of excellence in academics and community service. A graduate of Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST) at FIU Biscayne Bay Campus with perfect attendance since kindergarten, Armedilla plans to study neuroscience and public health at the University of Florida, with the goal of becoming a pediatric neurologist working on the prevention of neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and epilepsy. She has volunteered more than 1,000 hours of community service with Breakthrough Miami, UHealth’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and St. Rose of Lima Church. Armedilla served as Key Club president, receiving statewide distinctions including the 100% Pride Report Completion and Submission Award, and the Distinguished Member Award. She is a Nyah Project Fellow, a talented cohort of diverse teens from underserved communities selected to develop their leadership potential through transformative experiences abroad.
Anyeli Pro is the second winner of a Miami HEAT Scholarship. A graduate of Coral Reef Senior High School, she plans to study finance and political science at the University of Florida. Pro served as president of the second largest U.S. chapter of Future Business Leaders of America, and as an FBLA District Officer, in the role of District Reporter. She is a member of the Miami-Dade County Youth Commission, Key Club, several honor societies and the National Academy Foundation. With nearly 1,000 hours of community service, Pro volunteers with Paws4you, which works to rescue and place homeless dogs into new homes with loving families, and We Are Nature, which organizes beach cleanups. She is also founder of The Ashima Project, providing young children in Peru with the proper resources to further their education. Her work on behalf of the Ashima Project earned her recognition as a Silver Knight nominee in the business category.
Eklia St-Leger is the third winner of a Miami HEAT Scholarship. A graduate of William H. Turner Technical Arts High School, St-Leger plans to study biology at the University of Florida. She has volunteered 575 community service hours, including as a member of the Children’s Trust Youth Advisory Committee. As a district representative of the Miami-Dade County Youth Commission, she serves on the committees for cultural arts and community engagement; education and services; and advocacy and legislation. She is treasurer of the Student Government Association and the 2018 chapter president of HOSA: Future Health Professionals, where she was awarded first place on the regional nutritional knowledge test. She is a member of the City of North Miami Junior Council and Future Business Leaders of America, and volunteers as a financial literacy tutor through Tutoring for Academic Success, with the goal of addressing affordable housing in her community. She was also a participant in the 2019 Miami-Dade County Teen Court Annual Youth Legal Education Summit.
“The Miami HEAT organization is proud to partner with BankUnited to recognize the outstanding achievements of these South Florida students and help them on their journey to realizing their dreams,” said Eric Woolworth, president of The HEAT Group’s business operations. “Already, they have accomplished so much through their leadership and service to their communities. We look forward to seeing all they will accomplish as they continue to pursue their goals.”