DWC awards five scholarships

For 33 years, the Democratic Women’s Club of Indian River County has recognized exceptional local seniors with scholarships. This year’s five scholars, all students at Vero Beach High School, received $1,500 toward their futures.  As club president Pat O’Hara said, “I am so impressed with all these students.”

This year’s scholarship winners are:





Alondra Munoz’s beloved late grandfather would take her to his medical appointments as his translator. This sparked her interest in medicine and her aspiration to work in the health sciences field. She is the 2021 recipient of the Albert and Josephine Gallo STEM scholarship.

Despite a busy schedule that includes working as a barista and volunteering at the Environmental Learning Center and as a tutor with the Crossover Mission Program, Alondra has maintained a grade point that puts her in the top 5 percent of her class. Upon graduation she will have obtained certification as a nurse’s aide and biotechnician.

She has been accepted to and will attend a Florida university.





With her eye on her own and the planet’s future, Adina Birnholz plans to study engineering to aid in solving the globe’s environmental crises.

A passionate member of the Green Team/Environmental Club, Adina has worked to increase sustainable practices at the school. She was also instrumental in creating a current events club meant to spread awareness of global events.

She became acutely aware of local environmental issues while working as an intern with the Indian River County Stormwater Department. “It felt like a job I could spend the rest of my life doing.”

Adina has worked as a religious school teacher and has volunteered at the Environmental Learning Center.



Processed with VSCO with c1 preset



Throughout her high school career, VBHS valedictorian Mackenzie Cooley has made involvement in her community a priority. She has worked as a teenage auxiliary volunteer at Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital and as a student mentor with the Crossover Mission Program.

Especially impactful was Mackenzie’s time as a junior coach for the Girls on the Run program at Rosewood Magnet School, where she acted as a role model for elementary school girls. She has also been involved with the Florida Senate Page Program.

Mackenzie has interned with the Indian River County Supervisor of Elections office and plans to double major in political science and international relations.






As a toddler, Emily Olsson couldn’t sit still, so her grandmother enrolled her in acting and dance classes; a future musical theater performer was created. Emily is the recipient of this year’s Steve Erickson Music Scholarship.

She plans to major in musical theater as “needed preparation for the ‘real world.’”

As a participant in the school’s drama program, she has done a bit of everything: choreographer, dance captain, actress, prop gatherer, lighting and sound technician, and set builder. Her talents have also been put to use as a student counselor at Riverside Children’s Theatre.

But theater isn’t her only love. Emily also enjoys volunteering and has accumulated 840 hours of service. She has given time to Relay for Life, Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, student government and the Environmental Club.





Briel McMillian admits she was not afforded a traditional high school experience because she needed to work to help her family. She currently works 40 hours a week at Dunkin’ Donuts. Nevertheless, the Health Occupations Students of America program student will have obtained nursing assistant and phlebotomy technician certifications by graduation.

Briel has been accepted at Albany State University in Georgia and plans to earn a bachelor’s of science in nursing. Eventually she intends to become a nurse practitioner.

This busy student has still found time for volunteering. She has helped at several blood drives  and has judged science fair entries from elementary and middle school students. A mentor at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, Briel has found her volunteer experience a way to connect with others and prepare her for her chosen field.