St. Petersburg Times
Neighborhood Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Letter to the editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message


They hold the future in their hands

In the second of a three-part series, meet the teens with the goals, ambition and intelligence to shape the world of tomorrow.

Published May 9, 2007


Parents: Scott and Kaylyn Beck of St. Petersburg.

Plans: Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.; undeclared.

Activities: Volunteered at Riviera Middle School (my alma mater), volunteered at the Joshua House, helped organize a project to aid the homeless, was a lifeguard and taught swim lessons.

One thing I would change about the world ... I would make it so that no one in the world would miss out on going to college for lack of opportunity.

By the time I'm 30 ... I'd love to be fluent in three or four languages.

The person who had a major impact on my life ... Much of who I am today is a result of my relationship with my awesome dad!

About my high school experience ... High school to me was all about the relationships I made with other people. My friends were the best part of my experience and without a doubt what I will miss the most.

Parents: Tim and Jean Bowman of St. Petersburg.

Plans: University of Tampa; major undecided, maybe business.

Activities: This summer my youth group is traveling to an orphanage in Mexico to do repair work on the buildings and put some smiles on the children's faces with games and shows.

One thing I would change about the world ... There would be no lazy people.

By the time I'm 30 ... I'd like to have a successful job, be married and have kids.

My favorite book is ... Curious George Flies a Kite by Hans Augusto Rey and Margret Rey. Why? Love that monkey.

Parents: Bob and Lori Frye of Largo.

Plans: Vanderbilt University, Nashville; biomedical engineering.

Activities: Habitat for Humanity volunteer; assisted with Feed the Firefighters, a monthly project started by my youth group at Seminole First Baptist Church; waitress at the Greek Village for three years.

One thing I would change about the world ... The impact of money on people's lives. Money shouldn't control you. You should control it.

I attribute my success to ... Dedication and passion. I never give up.

By the time I'm 30 ... I would love to contribute to developing innovative technology that helps save lives.

The person who had a major impact on my life ... My aunt Linda. She has always pushed me in the right direction and helped me financially.

Parents: Hai Le of Tarpon Springs, and Hanh Nghi of Largo.

Plans: Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.; business, entrepreneurship and premed.

Activities: Volunteer at Hospice House Woodside, Pinellas Park, and Northside Hospital and Heart Institute, St. Petersburg; tutor at Osceola High School; assistant youth group leader at Tampa's First Adventist Church; volunteer at Suncoast Temple.

One thing I would change about the world ... To have nations at peace so the children won't suffer.

About my high school experience ... My proudest moment does not lie in academics. It was when I received the Anne Frank Humanitarian Award for my service at the hospital and hospice. Beating my procrastination was the greatest challenge. And I'd say prom is the greatest night, so don't miss it. Last thing I want to say is if you're interested in learning and have fun doing so, you will learn at a greater rate.

Parents: Stephanie Pagels of Largo.

Plans: University of South Florida, Tampa; biology (preveterinary medicine).

Activities: Senior member of the Pinellas Park Police Explorer Post, 300 plus hours of community service and member of the National, Law, and Spanish honor societies for the last two years. Work at Publix and at the Animal and Bird Hospital of Clearwater as a receptionist.

One thing I would change about the world ... I would create laws that dictate harsher punishment for animal abuse.

I attribute my success to ... Lots of studying and help throughout my life from my teachers.

By the time I'm 30 ... I would like to become a veterinarian with my own successful practice.

The person who had a major impact on my life ... My mom has been the one person who has had a significant impact on my life. I have always looked up to her strength and independence as a single mother. She has gone through many struggles and made many sacrifices to provide a better life for my brother and me.

Parents: Man Duc Ngo and Lien Thi Minh Nguyen, of Largo.

Plans: Two years at St. Petersburg College/Gibbs or Seminole campus, followed by two years at University of South Florida or University of Florida; obstetrics/gynecology.

Activities: Volunteer at St. Petersburg General Hospital; American Red Cross fundraiser for measles immunization; TNTT youth group leader.

One thing I would change about the world ... World poverty, strict school system, and also the FCAT testing and such.

About my high school experience ... Proudest moment: receiving the title of salutatorian. Greatest challenge: Advanced Placement calculus and cramming for tests. Will miss the most: The easy years as a freshman, friends and teachers.

Parents: Dinh Nguyen and Kim Merritt of Largo.

Plans: Two years at St. Petersburg College, followed by two years at University of Central Florida, Orlando, through Doorways Scholarship; major undecided.

Activities: Tutored at Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School, 95 hours. As president of the English Honor Society, organized two book drives for libraries and schools.

One thing I would change about the world ... I do worry about global warming but I don't see how people expect others to balance out the negatives in our country and world if our education system is lacking in certain areas. Inner city schools and even ones in our own capital aren't fully staffed or handled correctly. ... It's sad that people in places like China know more things about our history than most of our students. I would pay more attention to the schools that need it the most and adhere to their needs rather than just pay praise to prestigious schools.

I attribute my success to ... My parents and my family. They've worked hard considering their journey to escape the war and come to a foreign country. They've had to build up their success from the ground through obstacles like racism and language barriers as well as education. They've done quite well for themselves considering the fact that they are the first generation of their family to be in America. ... Education is the most beneficial thing to do for yourself.

By the time I'm 30 ... I would like to be successful in all of my career ambitions and goals. Most importantly, I'd like to be involved in the community and the world. I want to do humanitarian work and be a goodwill ambassador.

The person who had a major impact on my life ... My mom. Her dream was to become a flight attendant and pilot and she never got promoted from her position where she worked. She's in a completely different field now but she's taught me that I should always give things a try no matter what the doubt is because I don't want to live my life wondering.

Parents: Paul and Karyn Tash of St. Petersburg.

Plans: Duke University, Durham, N.C.; psychology and public policy.

Activities: Active volunteer at the St. Petersburg Free Clinic and works as a receptionist at Cloud Nine salon.

One thing I would change about the world ... It would be to provide each child with an educational opportunity equal to the one I've had.

I attribute my success to ... My work ethic is the sole reason for my success. Not much comes naturally to me; I work for every A.

By the time I'm 30 ... I'd like to become a counselor for teens, helping them through the difficulties that come with finding yourself.

About my high school experience ... I came to St. Pete High School knowing six other people. I worked to meet my peers and eventually represented them as the freshman class president, sophomore class president, junior class president, and finally as the student body president. While I am extremely proud to be a part of the Student Government Association, my most memorable experience is when I was announced as Homecoming Queen. I am also the Interact Club Sweetheart and Miss SPHS. The greatest challenge I faced was following my sister's footsteps; she graduated as the valedictorian of the IB program the year before I came to high school.

Parents: Susan and Tim Killam of St. Petersburg, and David Selby of St. Petersburg.

Plans: Florida State University College of Music, Tallahassee; music performance.

Activities: Leo Club; worked with visually impaired and community awareness.

By the time I'm 30 ... I want to either study abroad or take up residence in Scotland. I love my heritage, and to me it's the most beautiful country in the world.

About my high school experience ... I'll miss the youth orchestras I play in. There's nothing like playing great music with people you know and like; it's almost transcendent. Also, fitting a canoe with outriggers and a sail and making it seaworthy.

Parents: Pwu-Sheng Liu of Clearwater and Jimmy Lin of St. Petersburg.

Plans: Undecided, maybe University of Chicago; biological chemistry, premed.

Activities: Cancer support group - team captain at Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, Relay for Life, Race for the Cure, Environmental Club, office volunteer for hospice, St. Pete Juniorettes.

One thing I would change about the world ... I would extend the days to include more hours.

I attribute my success to ... My teachers, friends and family who continue to push me.

By the time I'm 30 ... I would love to go skydiving, and become an accredited oncologist.

About my high school experience ... My high school experience from freshman year up to now is a blur. I remember just sitting in random classes, on random days; how and where I met each of my friends; a lot of late nights, both in and out of the house; freaking out over grades and school work; zoning out (sorry, teachers!) in classes; screaming and jumping up and down at different points throughout the year; being called "Jenn-nay" (from Forrest Gump) starting out every morning in senior year alone with my bio teacher Mrs. Murphy. Although I can't wait for it to end, I know I'm going to miss going to school every day, seeing all of my teachers and friends. But my proudest moment will be Wednesday, May 23, at noon, walking out of the Stavros Center after finishing the French IB exam, the last one.

Parents: Andrew and Sandra Rosenthal of St. Petersburg.

Plans: Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.; undecided but probably business or a science.

Activities: Mu Alpha Theta, National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society and National Science Honor Society; chess instructor; and volunteer math teacher to Spanish-speaking elementary school students in Guatemala.

One thing I would change about the world ... It would be to remove world hunger. Although this desire may seem cliche, I have had personal experience with this matter. Not only have I directly witnessed starvation in Third World countries such as Guatemala, but also my own grandmother's childhood was wrought with hunger and fear of starvation. My grandmother has told me about her horror stories growing up in Guatemala and how sometimes she would go weeks living on only bread and water. And yet to think that to have at least bread and water is a luxury in some countries.

I attribute my success to ... My motivation to achieve my fullest potential and to my parents and my grandmother for instilling in me the belief that no challenge should go unmet.

By the time I'm 30 ... I would like to finalize my career path and make my mark and contribution to society.

The person who had a major impact on my life ... My maternal grandmother had a tremendous influence on the person I have become, and she still serves as an inspiration to me. From her, I acquired my determination, my perseverance to do my personal best, and my quest for knowledge and self-improvement.

Parents: Dr. and Mrs. Kirti Patel of Seminole.

Plans: University of Miami, Coral Gables; neuroscience.

Activities: Volunteered at Morton Plant Hospital; volunteered with Key Club service projects; taught Indian dance; volunteered at a nonprofit in rural India; volunteered with the Indian Students Association service project; NHS tutor.

One thing I would change about the world ... As a member of an extremely large and loving extended family, I have always been greatly disturbed by stories of people who abandon their children, unnecessarily put their parents/elder relatives in retirement homes, etc. If I could change one thing about the world, I would instill within people the understanding of how valuable a family is.

The person who had a major impact on my life ... My dad, Dr. Kirti K. Patel, is undoubtedly one of the greatest people in this entire universe. His love for life, thirst for knowledge, immense respect for others, unwavering faith in God, quiet modesty and other innumerable positive qualities have shaped my character and inspired me to become the person I am today. My dad has always encouraged me to take chances, speak my mind and love learning. Since as long as I can remember, he has always supported all of my decisions and endeavors. As busy as he is, he has never made me feel as though he didn't have time for me. From dance competitions to football games, my dad has always been my biggest fan. He is a unique individual who was wise enough to establish a steady balance between his work life and his family life. ... If I grow up to be even half the person my dad is, I will consider myself one of the most successful people in the world.

Parents: Jianfei Zhu and Cynthia Shen of Largo.

Plans: University of Chicago; major undecided.

Activities: Volunteered for Great Explorations Children's Museum Summer Camp, Suncoast Hospice, Big Brothers Big Sisters; member of National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society and St. Pete Juniorettes. Participated in various fundraisers for groups like Special Olympic, YMCA and domestic violence shelters.

By the time I'm 30 ... I would like to graduate from the University of Chicago and from a to-be-determined graduate school. I would also like to be in a career with some social/humanitarian aspect, like a job with the World Health Organization or a nongovernmental organization.

About my high school experience ... My high school experience has been such a challenge because of being in the IB program, but in the end it has been completely worth it. What I will miss most will be my amazing friends, who stress out, study, eat junk food in large quantities and concert-hop with me, and my unique teachers, who like to build giant tree houses and create plots for television shows about gargoyles.

Parents: David Wolcott of Seminole and Julie Wolcott-MacDonald of Pinellas Park.

Plans: University of Florida, Gainesville; biochemistry.

Activities: President of the St. Petersburg High School Junior Civitan Club, working with numerous organizations for volunteer and fundraising projects. Volunteered with hospice and involved in nearly every honor society at St. Petersburg High. Work at Target.

One thing I would change about the world ... Although I may not have the complete life experience at this point in time, I believe there is definitely one thing that I can pinpoint as a piece of the world that needs direct attention and that is the lack of tolerance in everyday society. Between genocide, hate crimes and discrimination, it is evident the humanity is headed in a wrong direction. ... Today's youth has luckily begun a social revolution of acceptance and recognition of qualities other than race, gender, etc.

About my high school experience ... Hell. Only one word sums it all up. I understand it may not be the intended response, but it is the pure and honest truth. The International Baccalaureate program presents all of its students with various challenges that seem to be never ending. ... Between late study nights, arrogant classmates and a pale complexion (never got the chance to go to the beach much), it is difficult to see the positive outcome. As negative as I may be at some times, there were indeed my brief yet glorious moments of "fun" over these past four years. No one can neglect the memories of homecoming games, prom, and senior year in its entirety. My month studying in France over the summer also served as some of the greatest moments of high school.

Parents: Randy and Linda Hedrick of Gulfport.

Plans: University of Florida, Gainesville; physical therapy.

Activities: Went on a mission trip to the Bahamas with First United Methodist Church. Volunteered at St. Vincent de Paul.

One thing I would change about the world ... I would make the Earth grow in size with the population so we wouldn't have to worry about running out of resources or room for people. Of course, the chances of that happening are slim to none, but it's a nice thought.

By the time I'm 30 ... I would like to have built a strong career in the medical field by then and maybe begin thinking about starting a family. To be honest, though, I don't have a clue what my life will be like when I'm 30; all I'm asking is that I have a little fun getting there.

The person who had a major impact on my life ... Other than the obvious influence of my parents, I would have to say my friend Tracy Maloney. She helped me balance out my school life with a social life. It helped me be a more outgoing person. I have made a lot of good friends through her, and we have a lot of fun memories.

One thing my classmates may not know about me ... I like spearfishing and bow hunting. It just goes to show you don't have to be a complete tomboy to be a girl that likes outdoors sports.

Parents: William and Stephanie McKarney of Largo.

Plans: University of Florida, Gainesville; anthropology/premed.

Activities: Volunteered at Morton Plant Mease in Clearwater, assisted with central services and patient care.

One thing I would change about the world ... Above all else, I would want to bring education to all parts of world. The only way to truly help another group of people is to educate them so they may be independent and creative in seeking solutions to issues that affect their lives.

I attribute my success to ... This is very cliche, but I would say my mom. She's helped me out in so many ways.

Parents: Lee Daniel of Seminole and Lesi Daniel of Seminole.

Plans: University of Florida, Gainesville; microbiology and cell science.

Activities: Horses for Handicapped, tutoring fellow students.

One thing I would change about the world ... I think everyone deserves equal rights regardless of situation or location around the world.

The person who had a major impact on my life ... My mom taught me that you have to work hard to reach your goals, but the end makes it worthwhile.

About my high school experience ... I have a lot of fun memories of just goofing off with my friends. I'd say I'll miss them, but most of them are going to UF too.

My favorite book ... Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery because it's the first book I read in French (and there's a lot f pictures).

Parents: John and Susan Light of Seminole.

Plans: University of Florida; Gainesville; mathematics and philosophy.

Activities: Math tutor; Spanish National Honor Society volunteer; National Honor Society volunteer; Mu Alpha Theta; cashier at Winn-Dixie.

By the time I turn 30 ... I would like to be working as a hedge fund analyst, an actuary, or an FBI agent.

The person who had a major impact on my life ... Jack Bauer (character from Fox television show 24) has always helped to inspire me and to keep things in perspective. Whenever I'm having a bad day, I realize that it could be much, much worse.

[Last modified May 9, 2007, 07:42:18]

Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters