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Florida Realtors® Awards $5K Scholarships to College-bound Students

ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 2, 2011 - For three recent Florida high school graduates, their freshmen year in college may be a little easier thanks to the $5,000 state scholarship awards each received from Florida Realtors®. The students’ winning essays were written on the topic “How Does a Realtor Professional Benefit the Community?”

The state winners are Mary Ruth Traver of Ave Maria, a 2011 graduate of Rhodora J. Donahue Academy; Jillian Rossi of New Port Richey, a 2011 graduate of Clearwater Central Catholic High School; and Allison Tate-Cortese of Winter Springs, a 2011 graduate of Oviedo High School.

These students each previously received a $1,000 scholarship for their district-winning essays in Florida Realtors®’ 2010-2011 Scholarship/Essay Contest for High School Seniors, giving each state winner a total of $6,000 to help with their college expenses. There were 13 district winners – for a total of $28,000 in scholarship funding given to Florida students this year from Florida Realtors. Traver won the District 5 scholarship award; Rossi received the District 6 scholarship award; and Tate-Cortese won the District 12 scholarship award.

2011 Florida Realtors President Patricia Fitzgerald announced the scholarship winners during the state association’s recent 95th annual Convention & Trade Expo, held at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla.

Mary Ruth Traver
Mary Ruth Traver
The state scholarship winners are excited about college and look forward to achieving their educational goals. Traver plans on studying education or political science at Ave Maria University, in hopes of teaching high school one day.

She says she learned a lot about how deeply Realtors are involved in fostering the growth and strength of a community by entering the state association’s essay contest. “When fresh businesses or new faces come into the community, it’s often thanks to a skilled Realtor,” Traver explains. “That’s something I would never have thought of before participating in this program.”

Jillian Rossi
Jillian Rossi
Rossi is a musical theater major at The Boston Conservatory of Music, with a minor in Italian – her goal is to be on Broadway or sing opera. The scholarships from Florida Realtors literally made her college dreams come true, according to Rossi.

“I was thrilled, because the scholarship money was a deciding factor for which school I would be able to attend,” she recalls. “The $6,000 from Florida Realtors allowed me to attend my dream school which was the best award of all. My parents were so excited that they could afford to send me to The Boston Conservatory!”

Allison Tate-Cortese
Allison Tate-Cortese
Tate-Cortese is enrolled in the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts as a film and television production major – one of only 50 students accepted for her major this year. She recalls how excited she was upon learning she was one of the winners of the Florida Realtors scholarships.

“I can honestly say that I felt absolutely overjoyed and honored on both occasions,” says Tate-Cortese. “I have to admit that I even did a little victory dance because I was so ecstatic! My mom called me screaming with joy, and my dad was blown away and speechless because these awards are such a monumental help for them since they are paying for me to attend a private school on the other side of the country. This scholarship made a tremendous difference for myself and my parents because it has saved me from taking large student loans out, which is not only a relief for this year but for the next 10 years that I would worry about paying it back!”

Business executives, educators, Realtors, community leaders and the media throughout Florida volunteered their time and expertise to serve as judges for the district- and state-level scholarship essay competition. More than 425 high school seniors from across the state sent entries for this year’s essay contest – the 11th year for the program.

To read the students’ winning essays, click on each student’s name on Florida Realtors’ website at:

Florida Realtors®, formerly known as the Florida Association of Realtors®, serves as the voice for real estate in Florida. It provides programs, services, continuing education, research and legislative representation to its 115,000 members in 64 boards/associations. Florida Realtors® Media Center website is available at


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Florida's largest professional trade association