Scholarship Winners!

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

= multi-year scholarships awarded!

Simon Gutierrez

Tennis

Lake Wales High School

Polk State College

2020 AAO Scholarship Winner

Simon will be graduating with a 3.8 GPA and was the co-captain of the tennis team his junior and senior years. He is planning to attend Polk State College for two years and transfer to University of South Florida, where he will major in business finance. Simon intends to pursue a career in real estate and own a real estate agency. He was voted Treasurer of the LWHS Hispanic Culture Club for 2018-2019. His junior and senior year, he was school yearbook sports photographer.

In December of 2014, Simon’s father and the family’s main source of income, unexpectedly suffered a severe stroke, causing permanent unemployed. He now requires the use of a walker. May 2015, he was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes and suffered another stroke in August 2015 when he was 56. Simon was only thirteen at the time. He suffered from mental and emotional adversity, because his family experienced a huge economic downfall. Times became financially rough! He, his older brother and sister have worked hard to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table with their jobs. Their mother is a housewife, who is also the primary caretaker of his dependent father.

In ninth grade, Simon joined the tennis team as a novice and failed to earn a spot in the starting lineup, due to the high level of competition from his teammates. There were many times when he just wanted to quit! A senior player convinced him to remain on team. Hours of practicing and conditioning on his own for at least six hours per week, earned Simon a spot in the starting lineup the next 3 years.

He got the opportunity to participate in the county and district tournament for the first time as a sophomore, where he individually placed second runner up at county and first place at districts, both in the number five singles round, and was named the 2018 Most Improved Male Tennis Player at the post-season awards banquet. The 2018 LWHS tennis season was one of the most successful seasons ever by having only one loss, for the first time in many years. Lake Wales claimed both county and district first place championship titles and advanced to the regional finals. Simon made a huge contribution to the success of this outstanding season. His tennis experience made him realize that he should never doubt his ability to be successful at something new and never give up when a challenge seems to be too difficult and never allow negative comments to lower his self-esteem. Good luck, Simon!

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BobCurtis@RobinWagmanAAO.org