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Board Presents YEA! Awards to Six Exceptional Young People

Updated: Aug 28, 2019

A seventh grader who helped raise $15,000 for charity. A junior whose efforts to encourage bone marrow registrations already has resulted in two marrow matches. And two girls who achieved academic excellence despite difficult odds. These individuals are examples of how young people can dedicate themselves to improving their community and shaping its future.

The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners' Youth Excellence and Achievement (YEA!) Awards recognize positive contributions in areas including academics, community service, athletics, and the performing arts. The Hillsborough County Commission on the Status of Women selected this year's winners from nominees submitted by mentors, teachers, and parents across the County.

"Even though I'm a kid, I can make a big difference,'' said Gavriela Daniels, one of the honorees. "It doesn't really matter your age or height or anything. You can do anything you put your mind to.''

During the Board of County Commissioners meeting on May 1, these students were recognized for their initiative, innovation, and commitment to Hillsborough County.

Naomi Weller, Progress Village Middle Magnet School of the Arts in Tampa A 12-year-old who earned a Certificate of Achievement from the governor's office for her outstanding performance on the fifth-grade statewide science test, Naomi is a girl of many talents and interests, including gymnastics and interior design.

Blaque Jarvis, Middleton High School Blaque is the leading rebounder and co-captain of the girls' basketball team, in addition to attaining a 4.3 unweighted GPA. She is the recipient of a full scholarship to Benedict College in South Carolina.


Gavriela Daniels, Trinity Academy Gavriela is a seventh-grader who founded Children For Children Ministries to help children in need in Ethiopia. The organization raised over $15,000, which has helped establish an afterschool program, construct a building and two outdoor playgrounds, and provide snacks and activities for the kids.

Christopher Rodriguez, Plant City High School  A junior who ranks 12th in his class, Christopher is a member of the Academic Honor Roll, National Honor Society, and is dual enrolled at Hillsborough Community College. He has served as a captain of the junior varsity football, baseball, and basketball teams. He works diligently to encourage people to register for the Be the Match Registry for potential bone marrow donors.

Volunteer or Community Service

Vance Tomasi, Farnell Middle School A 13-year-old co-founder of the Read Repeat initiative, Vance collected, donated, and distributed more than 92,000 books to 50 states, and raised $28,000. Vance has been widely recognized for his work and dedication, including being named a Lightning Community Hero of Tomorrow, received the Presidential Environmental Youth Award, and was honored with the Florida Champion of Service Award.

Grace Ramos, H.B. Plant High School In addition to being vice-president of her service club, captain of the girl's track team, and Positive Coaching Alliance representative, Grace's involvement with the Girl Scouts led her to create an informational poster that is displayed in every Hillsborough County high school.

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