Troy Moon, Pensacola State College
Mackenzie Kent wants to be a nurse, so after graduating from Tate High in the spring, the teenager searched out nursing schools in Florida and found that one of the best was right in her backyard.
“I did a lot of research and found out that Pensacola State College is No. 4 in the state,” Mackenzie said. “And I’ve heard great reviews and recommendations from other people, so it seemed like a nice fit.” (PSC’s nursing program was ranked as No. 4 in Florida in 2019 by RegisteredNursing.org.)
Mackenzie is now in her first semester at PSC and is one of three Presidential Scholars for the 2020-2021 school year.
The scholarship recipients are chosen by PSC President Ed Meadows from a list of applicants who, according to Meadows, “represent some of the most exemplary high school students” in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. The Presidential Scholarship is a two-year, full-tuition and book award. Recipients must be an incoming freshman or dual-enrolled student and must have a minimum high school grade point average of 3.2.
“I’m so thankful for the scholarship,” Mackenzie said. “It’s very helpful. And I’m really happy to be at PSC. I wanted to stay close to home and I think it’s better for me to start with a small college.”
Still, she’s taking all online courses and looks forward to the day she can come to a campus for classes.
“I really do wish I could have the normal college experience,” Mackenzie said. “It’s a little more challenging for me taking the online classes.”
Mackenzie is a first-generation college student, as is Presidential Scholar Chloe Huffman, who graduated as valedictorian from Pine Forest High this spring.
“Neither of my parents thrived in school,” Chloe said. “They’re so proud I’ve done this. I’ve had my own challenges. In middle school, I was sick a lot and in high school I was told I would never get a scholarship, no way. So it’s been a long journey.”
She eventually plans on studying pharmacy at the Florida A&M University School of Pharmacy in Crestview – a mere 52 miles from Pensacola – but wanted to start her college career at PSC.
“I didn’t want to go far from home,” Chloe said. “I’m a homebody.”
Currently, Chloe is taking pre-pharmacy classes such as Biology, Human Growth and Development, and other science-related courses.
“My plan is to be at PSC for two years,” she said. “But I might stay longer and get more of my science classes finished.”
The third incoming Presidential Scholar is Makayla Prado, a recent graduate of Navarre High School who is currently taking five classes ─ all online.
She hopes to transfer to the University of Miami after PSC and major in marketing. Her goal is to work in high-fashion marketing.
“The scholarship is awesome,” Makayla said. “And PSC has been great. Everyone’s been helpful and you’re encouraged to ask questions. I think PSC will set me up for Miami very well.”
PHOTO: Left to right, Chloe Huffman, Mackenzie Kent and Makayla Prado are the three Presidential Scholars for the 2020-2021 school year.