Preston Fisher Edwards, who has participated in the Take Stock in Children program since 2016, was recognized at the 2019 Take Stock in Children Leadership Summit March 5 at the Capitol in Tallahassee as the county’s Outstanding Senior of the Year.

He was awarded with a new laptop to assist and better prepare him for his upcoming freshman year of college.

Take Stock in Children is a non-profit organization that aims to provide low-income students with scholarships to allow them to pursue a higher education, as well as pair students with mentors in order to help them through high school graduation and into a successful career.

“My mentor Suzanne Zimmerman has done her best to meet with me at school once a week for the last few years,” said Edwards, in addressing the impact his mentor has had. “Though sometimes I know she must get frustrated with me when I far too often forget about our meetings, she has never failed to consistently show me that she really does care about me and wants me to succeed.

“This has impacted to some level my motivation to do well in school and stay on track,” he said.

Edwards said the most valuable thing he learned from his mentor was “something a little off the books from the Take Stock in Children lesson plans. The most valuable thing my mentor has taught me is that despite what is going on in life or how old you get, to always see the bright side in things and truly enjoy life for what it is.”

After graduating from Franklin County High School this spring, as well as Gulf Coast State College with an associate’s degree this year, Fisher plans to move to Tallahassee to obtain a business degree and to eventually earn a juris doctorate in order to practice law.

He said he also “has an interest in politics, potentially one day wanting to run for office to make changes for the better in my community.”

Asked what he would tell other Take Stock scholars, Edwards said “the biggest piece of advice I have to give to the others in this amazing program, is that it is worth it. Though at first it may seem uncomfortable to meet with a stranger once a week and to do all the necessary things to qualify for the program, the things you learn throughout this program significantly outweigh the negatives.”

Mentoring is a huge component of the Take Stock in Children program, which currently has several students who have not yet been paired with a mentor. A mentor is a caring, compassionate adult who chooses to devote time to a young person, offering them support, guidance, and encouragement.

If you can donate one hour per week, you can change a life by helping a young person build a solid foundation of values, establish goals, and improve their academic and life skills, while developing their self-esteem and confidence.

If you or someone you know is interested in this opportunity, please visit www.takestockinchildren.org and reach out to Simona Nichols, mentor coordinator for Franklin County at 602-552-2686.

Take Stock will accept new students, from grades seven and eight, into the program from now through Friday, April 5. To apply, pick up an application at the Franklin County School administrative office during this period.