The Naples Garden Club Endowment annually awards financial assistance to selected FGCU students conducting research in plant sciences at the Kapnick Education and Research Center.  This endowed fellowship continues the Garden Club’s decades-long practice of awarding scholarships to benefit the community. 

Sondra Quinn announced this years recipients, Angelica Harkoo (above) and Kelly Ussia, Environmental Studies undergraduates and student interns.  Also in attendance was Dr. Bill Mitsch, Director of the Everglades Wetland Research Park.

Angelica’s and Kelly’s messages to Naples Garden Club members can be read below.

Dear Sponsor of the Naples Garden Club Fellowship Endowed Fund:

I would like to take this time to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the scholarship you have given me. It is an honor that I have been chosen out of all the applicants to receive this scholarship. I am truly grateful for your generosity and investment in my future.

This scholarship will assist me substantially in both my current and future academic endeavors. I pay for my education myself so every bit of funding I receive is extremely appreciated. Starting in the fall semester I will receive in-state tuition, however, for the last two years I have been paying out of state tuition. Out-of-state tuition is significantly higher than in-state tuition, because of this I have used up my remaining savings and have had to work very hard to earn the money needed to attend school.

In order to afford my education I maintain a job during the school year as well as two jobs over the summer. These jobs add up to fifty five hour work weeks. This can be difficult and challenging sometimes but it is what I have to do to get the education I need to pursue my dreams. Your contribution to my schooling will help to alleviate some of the pressure I am under to come up with the money to pay for each semester. As a result I will be better able to dedicate more time to my studies and future career.

Thanks to your generosity I will be able to continue to working toward my degrees in environmental studies (B.A.) and biology (B.S.). When I graduate my dream is to work at the county level as a land steward. Every semester I take steps to make this goal a reality. Over the last two years at FGCU I have been becoming more involved in Eco-Action, a club on campus dedicated to improving ecosystems. As a group we do invasive species removal at Matanzas Pass Preserve, Adopt-A-Road cleanups, water way cleanups, local environmental education projects and various other volunteer activities. During my freshman year in the club I was simply a member and started to become very involved in the group work. Last year I became the organization’s secretary and was in charge of communication among our members and also with the outside community. Next year I will be stepping up and become the vice president of the club. I am eagerly looking forward to this fantastic opportunity and cannot wait to share my passion and knowledge with others in the community.

During the fall semester I will also be performing an internship at Lee County Parks and Recreation. I will be working with Terry Cain, land steward for Matanzas Pass, Bowditch Point, and Bunch Beach. I have worked with her numerous times in the past and am very excited to learn from her years of experience.

It is only as a result of your most generous assistance and contribution toward my education that I am able to continue such pursuits. The acquisition of knowledge is more than a simple avocation to me; it is a way of life. By further developing my own experiences and education I am seeking to be better prepared to assist in the improvement of my community. Thank you once again for your outstanding generosity.


Kelly Ussia



Dear Sponsor of the Naples Garden Club Fellowship Endowed Fund:

I would like to express my utmost thanks to you for giving me this scholarship. I feel like actually saying thank you is such a small gesture for the appreciation I feel and I wish I could do or say something more so that you could truly understand my gratitude. Receiving this scholarship was much more than just receiving the money for me.

As an international student it is very difficult being here. I have to get adjusted to a new culture and lifestyle not to mention everything requires twice as much paperwork and ten times as much effort. I thought over the years it would get easier but it has only seemed to get that much harder. Recently, many things have come up and it has been making life very difficult. I was beginning to feel like giving up because everywhere I turned I was having a door shut in my face. When I received the email stating I got the scholarship, I felt relieved. Finally, one door was opened for me. Sometimes in life we’re searching for something, anything that can give us a little hope so that we can grab on and not let go. This scholarship was that little nudge I needed to keep going. Thank you for letting me know there is still hope and for giving me that bit of faith that I was so desperately searching for.

As for the financial support, again thank you so much. My mom battled cancer last year and went through chemo treatment. It was a very traumatic experience for my family and me. No one ever tells you when things like these are going to happen and it just hits you most of the times. Thankfully she is recovering well and hopefully will be doing much better soon. The medical bills, however, will remain for a while. Her treatment was expensive and she and I have both been worrying about finding the funds for me to finish my degree as a large amount of it was used. It has been at the back of our minds and does not seem to want to go away. I truly appreciate your generosity. Anything helps and the scholarship definitely is a blessing.

As I mentioned above, saying thank you seems so minor but it is all I have to offer. Your generosity has not only helped me but many others as well. Thank you for giving us that faith and helping us believe that we can continue on our journey and continue our fight. A scholarship is so much more than just financial help; it is you showing that you believe in me. I will keep you in my prayers and I hope that you continue to receive many blessings in your life. You truly deserve it. My mother was very excited when I told her about this. I have not heard her that excited in a while. I think you gave her that bit of hope she was searching for as well. From the bottom of our hearts, from the both of us, thank you so very much. I have attached a picture of my mother and I along with this letter.

Yours sincerely,

Angelica Harkoo