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MCF Scholar Profile: Austin F.

Thanks to generous donors who believe in the impact that higher education can have on our communities, the Manatee Community Foundation has the pleasure of awarding scholarships to local students. Since 1998, we have been able to award over $50 million in scholarships and grants.

We enjoy following our scholars through their educational journey and we will periodically highlight these exceptional students.

Austin F. – Manatee School for the Arts Graduate

Austin F.

High School:  Manatee School for the Arts

College:  Manatee Technical College

Major(s):  Computer Networking and Applied Cybersecurity

College Graduation Date(s):

  • Computer Networking graduated January 2019
  • Applied Cybersecurity graduated May 2023

Next Steps:  I accepted an IT position in April 2023 with Custom Pet Products as a starting point for a career in the IT field.

Why did you choose your major?  I chose to major in IT because I have a natural fit with all things related to computers. I have built my own desktop computers from scratch and have helped others to do so. I have always been fascinated with the inner workings of computers and how they interact with all phases of the world’s businesses and people’s private lives.

Favorite thing about Manatee County:  Manatee County has great educational opportunities and diverse services for children with learning disabilities. Personally, I am on the autism spectrum and have experienced an uphill battle with learning. My courses at Manatee Technical College were challenging, but I had a wonderful instructor who helped me achieve success, and even nominated me for the National Technical Honor Society. I was also able to dual enroll in high school at MSA and MTC, which helped me graduate at a much younger age than others.

How has MCF scholarships helped you? The scholarship helped me meet the financial needs to take Applied Cybersecurity and gain much needed certifications necessary for employment in the IT industry.

Your mentor(s) and why?  My mentors are Susannah Cripe and Danielle Curtis. They have always been there for me as I navigated my education and met goals they set for me so that I could be successful in life and in the workforce. I now volunteer alongside them at Hooves with Heart, a therapeutic equestrian program that helps children with disabilities.

What piece of advice would you give to high school seniors?  My advice for high school seniors is to explore technical college as well as 4-year colleges when looking for secondary education. You may be able to dual enroll in college courses while in high school, which gives you a step ahead of your peers.

What would you like to share with scholarship donors? I would like to share with scholarship donors that not all high school students are destined to get bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Some will succeed in the world by taking advantage of the technical colleges that prepare them for a specific career. I would also like to say that it is important to grant scholarships to students with learning disabilities who can also be successful in college if the fit is right for them, and they have support systems in place.

Any final thoughts?  My final thoughts would be to express my gratitude for the MCF scholarship, which allowed me to begin my career in IT at the age of 22, and that I’m grateful that they had faith in me despite my learning disabilities.

Looking forward to your continued success, Austin!

Our general scholarship application cycle opens in December. We take rolling applications for those going to vocational programs at either Manatee Technical, State College of Florida, or University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.

If you’d like to support access to education for well-deserving students in our area, you can send a check to Manatee Community Foundation, 2820 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton, Florida 34205, with MCF General Scholarship Fund in the memo line or call Alicia Chalmers at 941-747-7765 to discuss.