The Palm Beach Post | by Faran Fagen | April 22, 2021
Ten-year-old Derron Blake Jr. likes to speak on topics such as stopping gun violence and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. He likes to code, and speedcube with his Rubik’s Cube. He like to play golf, tennis and play in the pool with his little brother, Tristan.
Now, the fourth-grader at Northboro Elementary School “loves” being a 2021 Carson Scholar. In fact, he’s the 10,000th recipient of the award from the Ben Carson Foundation, which has been helping students for the last 25 years.
“I think I won the honor because my coaches, teachers, mentors, scout leaders, and family believe in me and help me be the best I can be,” said Derron, of West Palm Beach. “I also work very hard in school, scouts, the golf course, and tennis courts.”
Derron, who hopes to be an engineer, president, or a professional golf or tennis player, is one of 28 students at Palm Beach County schools to be named a Carson Scholar this year.
After 25 years of recognizing and rewarding students in grades 4-11 who embrace high levels of academic achievement and community service, the Carson Scholars Fund (CSF) is thrilled to award its 10,000th scholarship this year.
The CSF gifts $1,000 college scholarships to students who excel academically and selflessly give of themselves, their time, and their talents to others. Every scholarship brings the organization one step closer to co-founders Dr. and Mrs. Ben Carson’s dream of naming a Carson Scholar at every school in the country.
Scholars pursue dreams of becoming doctors, educators, entrepreneurs, scientists, and more. These students do not wait until they are adults to start making an impact; instead, they use their gifts and talents to benefit their communities and the world right now.
“We appreciate the Carson Scholars Fund for providing such a wonderful opportunity for students as young as our Olivia to start laying their own foundation for future endeavors,” Chanelle Harper said.
Harper, of West Palm Beach, is the mother of Olivia Harper, also a student at Northboro who was awarded a Carson scholarship.
Olivia’s favorite subject is reading because she love to read new books and “learn tons of new things.” When she’s not in school she likes to play with her dog, read, play games, and bake. The fifth-grader hopes to become an actress.
“I always try to work hard in school and do my best to help others in my school and community,” Olivia said. “To get good grades, I stay focused and do my work. If I don’t understand a topic, I ask for help or do more research on it.”
Olivia and Derron are in good company, as Carson Scholars have gone on to big achievements.
Three-time Carson Scholar and first ever TIME Magazine Kid of the Year, Gitanjali Rao, is one of these world changers. She received this prestigious honor for her extraordinary work as a young scientist and inventor. Gitanjali uses her gifts to solve some of the world’s most complex issues including water contamination, cyberbullying, and opioid addiction.
Carson Scholars make up an evolving generation of influencers. They invent apps, launch non-profits, and start businesses to make the world a better place. For example, 2020 Carson Scholar Dhruv Pai created a group called Teens Helping Seniors, which allows volunteers to deliver groceries and other necessities to elderly homes.
You can also find Carson Scholar alumni leading in the fields of medicine, education, and engineering. These individuals embody what it means to be a Carson Scholar as they pursue higher education and continue to make a positive impact in the lives of others.
Carson Scholar Dr. Bowen Jiang followed in Dr. Carson’s footsteps as he completed his residency and fellowship at Johns Hopkins University before sharing his talents as a neurosurgeon as the Director of the St. Jude Neuroscience Institute at Providence.
The Carson Scholars Fund is proud of the scholars who stepped up and persevered through this challenging year. These bright and compassionate 2021 Carson Scholars will be honored and recognized at festivities this fall.
Derron and his family are elated for everything the honor brings.
“It’s definitely hard work raising a child like Derron; however when I see and hear him on stage with his oratorical events, it gives me chills,” said his mom, Carol. “He is very confident, and in my opinion, well on his way to being a dynamic young man that will change the world for the better.”
The Carson Scholars Fund, Inc. is a nonprofit charity founded in 1994 by now retired Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeon, Dr. Benjamin Carson and his wife, Candy. The Carson Scholars Fund recognizes and rewards students in grades four to 11 who strive for academic excellence (3.75 GPA or higher) and demonstrate a strong commitment to their communities.
2021 CARSON SCHOLARS, PALM BEACH COUNTY
- Briana Aguirre, grade 5, Forest Park Elementary School, Boynton Beach
- Derron Blake Jr., grade 4, Northboro Elementary School, West Palm Beach
- Sofia Blanco, grade 8, Polo Park Middle School, Wellington
- Elise Burke, grade 5, Indian Pines Elementary School, Lake Worth Beach
- Jackenson Estime, grade 5, Rolling Green Elementary School, Boynton Beach
- Gabriel Gerig, grade 11, Inlet Grove Community High School, Riviera Beach
- Yahir Granados, grade 5, Forest Hill Elementary School West Palm Beach
- Olivia Harper, grade 5, Northboro Elementary School, West Palm Beach
- Tovard Hilaire, grade 5, Forest Park Elementary School, Boynton Beach
- Thomas Karbowski, grade 10, Seminole Ridge Community High School, Loxahatchee
- Miranda Millard-Bruzos, grade 11, Boca Raton Community High School, Boca Raton
- Ana Ojeda, grade 11, Royal Palm Beach High School, Royal Palm Beach
- RoDajah Patillo, grade 5, Westward Elementary School, West Palm Beach
- Isaiah Petree, grade 11, Jupiter Christian School, Jupiter
- Koi Pina, grade 5, Boca Raton Elementary School, Boca Raton
- Angelica Roa, grade 5, Pioneer Park Elementary School, Belle Glade
- Daniel Robbert, grade 8, Wellington Landings Middle School Wellington
- Luisa Rodrigues, grade 5, Banyan Creek Elementary School, Delray Beach
- Elisa Siria, grade 5, Coral Sunset Elementary School, Boca Raton
- Raisa Tayeb, grade 5, Clifford O. Taylor/Kirklane Elementary School, Palm Springs
- Jazmine Vasquez, grade 4, Forest Hill Elementary School, West Palm Beach
- Jenelle William, grade 5, Indian Pines Elementary School, Lake Worth Beach
- Allie Alder, grade 10, Wellington Community High School, Wellington
- Jesse Brodtman, grade 9, American Heritage, Delray Beach
- Lillian Doster, grade 10, Jupiter Christian School, Jupiter
- Mathew Harper, grade 7, Bak Middle School of the Arts, West Palm Beach
- Noah Norwitch, grade 11, Oxbridge Academy, West Palm Beach
- Jayde Rozier, grade 6, Bak Middle School of the Arts, West Palm Beach
Featured image: Derron Blake Jr., right, poses with Dr. Ben and Candy Carson and his $1,000 scholarship check–the 10,000th given by the Ben Carson Foundation. Photo Provided