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Florida Tech Announces 2020 Farmer Scholar

Gainesville’s Emily Simpson Plans
to Study Planetary Science

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Florida Tech has announced that Emily Simpson is the 2020 Farmer Scholar and will receive the university’s most prestigious financial award.

Simpson, a Gainesville resident who plans to study planetary science at Florida Tech starting in the fall, graduated from Buchholz High School this year with a weighted GPA of 4.76, landing her in the top 5 percent of her class of more than 500. She also posted a 4.0 GPA in her dual enrollment at Santa Fe College, where she earned an associate’s degree in exploring sciences.

Exploring sciences has been a lifelong passion for Simpson, especially astronomy.

“I’m enraptured by astronomy, specifically planetary science, which is also my planned major,” she said in the essay she wrote as part of the Farmer Scholars application process. “I have been obsessed with space since I was a child, to the point that I had my tenth birthday party at the planetarium in my hometown to the dismay of my incredibly bored ten-year-old friends.”

Her obsession has not prevented Simpson from exploring and excelling in other areas, however.

She was a member of her high school’s ukulele club and flutist in its marching and symphonic bands. She was a member of the National Honor Society and the National Society of Leadership and Success, student mentor, and recipient of the President’s Education Award for Outstanding Academic Excellence.

Beyond the classroom, Simpson was a volunteer at the Grace Marketplace Free Animal Clinic and a member of the Alachua Astronomy Club.

“Emily describes herself as passionate, ambitious, creative and well rounded,” Suzanne Warner, a school counselor at Buchholz High School, said in her letter of recommendation. “I would agree with her self-assessment.”

Simpson can now add being named Farmer Scholar to her list of achievements.

The Farmer Scholars program began in 2009, when Phillip W. Farmer, the retired chairman, president and chief executive officer of L3Harris Corp. and past chairman of the Florida Tech Board of Trustees, donated $1.5 million to establish the endowed scholarship.

The program provides a full, four-year scholarship awarded annually to a Florida resident and high school graduate who is among the top 5 percent of his or her class and demonstrates exceptional academic achievement and outstanding personal character.

Included in the scholarship are all tuition and university fees, a room in L3Harris Village’s Farmer Hall and the regular university meal plan. Additionally, the Farmer Scholar is given a stipend between the junior and senior years for enrichment through Florida Tech’s summer study abroad program at Oxford University.

“Phil Farmer was relentless in his pursuit of excellence, and I am happy to see that focus and drive reflected in our 2020 Farmer Scholar, Emily Simpson,” Florida Tech President Dwayne McCay said. “We look forward to welcoming Emily to campus this fall as she embarks on her journey to better understand our vast cosmos. As we say at Florida Tech, ‘To the stars through science!’”

Simpson noted that she was accepted by and offered scholarships to her top three university choices. Florida Tech stood out from the group for its proximity to Kennedy Space Center, excellent research and internship opportunities, great faculty, small size and international reputation in her chosen field.

“Florida Tech was the best fit for me,” she said.

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