The Marco Island Fire Rescue Foundation developed the Fire Foundation Scholarship Fund in 2016. The fund is used to assist MIFR personnel and their children with the skyrocketing costs of higher education. This year, the Foundation celebrated two recent graduates, Andrea Leiner and Joseph Byrne. The fund is financed with proceeds from the annual cruise raffle.
Andrea recently received her master’s degree as a Family Medicine Nurse Practitioner graduate from the University of Miami. During graduation, she was distinguished with the award for the graduate who demonstrated “Excellence in Leadership.” Andrea, along with 13 other nurses, organized pop-up clinics in remote areas of Jamaica to help those in most need. “I want to dedicate my life to helping others and being a responsible provider,” Andrea confided. Her father’s career greatly impacted her decision to embark on a career in medicine as did her mother’s. Andrea will pursue Acute Care and Emergency Medicine credentials as well as a doctorate degree.
Joseph went to Columbia College where he majored in Musical Theatre with a minor in Live and Performing Arts Management. Theatre became an important part of his life when he was just a kid. Joseph said, “When I was nine, Gina Sisbarro gave me the direction to shout some ‘The end is nigh!’ line and fling a fake cat off stage by its tail. Needless to say the addictive madness of theatre’s cathartic release, coupled with the enjoyment of performing for arts’ sake, hooked me instantly. A unique set of courses allowed me to cultivate a diverse education in the performing arts, including many experiences and collaborations, all of which I am proud of. I plan now to pursue work in stage combat and possibly some gymnastics and stunt training work.” He is about to begin his final stage of Stage Combat certification and will use the skills in film and on stage in the projects to come!
Marco Island Fire Rescue Foundation president Dianna Dohm said, “The Foundation is so very proud of the Monte Lazarus Memorial Scholarship Fund and the many first responders’ children we are able to assist in pursuing higher education… ‘a gift which can never be taken away,’ as professed by the late Monte Lazarus. He would be very proud of these students, as are we.”