Scholarship Winners!

Meet our deserving winners, read their bios and leave a few words of encouragement.

= multi-year scholarships awarded!

Ambar Disla-Borja

Volleyball

Winter Haven High School

Eckerd College

2020 AAO Scholarship Winner

Ambar will graduate from Winter Haven High School with a 3.932 GPA, working 20 hours/week at Chick-fil-A and playing varsity women's volleyball. She is planning to attend Eckerd College and major in marine biology. After graduation, she hopes to study abroad on various sea excursions and join the global network of marine mammalogists. Ambar wishes to receive a pathology veterinary internship while earning a masters degree in marine mammal medicine. She would eventually like become an animal care specialist at The Marine Mammal Center Hawaii Hospital, Ke Kai Ola, HA.

Ambar was a co-founder of the Environmental Club at Winter Haven High School, leading a zero-waste campaign. She was captain of women's volleyball team, winning District Championship her junior year and second her senior year.

Amber spent countless community service hours managing “Meal on Wheels” deliveries and lead dog training courses as an experienced volunteer at the Humane Society of Polk County.

Ambar’s family home life with her 2 sisters, mother and father was fairly normal. Until one night, at age 5, it was necessary for her mother and sisters to abruptly separate from her abusive father. As she looked back at her father, that would be the last time she would see his face for many years. They found their way to a shelter for families in-need and slept in a room under 300 square feet. She did not know how long they were staying there, but it felt like an eternity. Months later, they left the shelter. This time, they stayed in an apartment complex however,  were evicted a few months later and once again on the streets. Her mother begrudgingly called her brother and they finally found a more suitable, yet temporary, home. At this point, Ambar remembers more of the grief her mother experienced rather than her own feelings. Her mother knew they couldn’t live like this forever, with her uncle living in the garage and her mother with three kids in one bedroom. At this point, her mother met their future stepfather and after all the sacrifices, the long lonely nights her sisters and Ambar endured, all paid off.

At five years old, she became interested in volleyball. For the last nine years, she consistently overworked herself practicing and perfecting her skills. Ambar’s mother found a professional beach volleyball player/coach; Pri Piantadosi-Lima to train with. However, her lesson fees were astronomical plus she lived 2 hours away in St. Petersburg. She trained for 2 hours, 3 days a week for Winter Haven H.S. To add to this ridiculous schedule, she worked three to four days a week at Chick-fil-A putting all her paychecks towards paying for volleyball lessons. Her dream came true when Ambar qualified for the Junior Beach Volleyball Olympics in California. At this point in her life, she deemed nothing impossible! Ambar had made arrangements with her grandfather to travel with her to California this summer. Unfortunately, her grandfather suddenly passed away a month ago, which has now created great sadness for her.

Good luck, Ambar!

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