Panama City Beach Optimist Club creates new endowed scholarship for TROY

Left to right: Randy Phillips, Craig St. Martin, Robert Draper, Becky Watson, AVC for Development, and Matthew Wright, Enrollment Coordinator.

Left to right: Randy Phillips, Craig St. Martin, Robert Draper, Becky Watson, AVC for Development, and Matthew Wright, Enrollment Coordinator.

Keeping with their creed to be “just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own,” the Panama City Beach Optimist Club recently partnered with TROY to create a $25,000 Leadership Endowed Scholarship.

In a typical year, organization member Bob Draper said the group would host local events for the youth in the community, but with the arrival of the pandemic, they wanted to find other beneficial uses for these funds. Thus, they sought to create the Panama City Beach Optimist Club Leadership Endowed Scholarship. Having partnered with TROY in the past to create scholarship opportunities, Draper says the club was more than happy to come together again with the University to support future Trojans.

“We’ve partnered with TROY on a previous $25,000 endowed scholarship before for the Panama City Beach Campus, and with the money we had in our budget that didn’t get to go toward community youth activities, we felt it was a good investment to do another scholarship with the University,” said Draper.

This endowed scholarship will be used to benefit students from Bay County, Florida, who are attending any Troy University Campus.

“Opening up the scholarship to a wider range allows more students to partake of its benefits, and they can really be anywhere in the world,” said Draper. “We feel like this will help our community even more than the original scholarship has helped by allowing the students to attend more than just the Panama City Beach campus.”

Draper said the organization has sponsored Boy Scout troops in the past, and many Eagle Scouts have come out of the program to then pursue a military career. With the number of diverse campuses TROY offers today, Draper says those students will still be eligible for this scholarship while they serve in the military.

Having been part of the Panama City Beach Optimist Club for more than 20 years, Draper said being able to see the impact these scholarships make in the lives of the students is incredibly rewarding.

“We offer our scholarships to individuals that want to make our community better,” said Draper. “Our hope is that this scholarship will better the lives of students and the lives of their families. We’ve had some pretty successful individuals come out of our scholarship program. Our main aim is to be a friend of the youth and to inspire the youth like our creed says.”

Draper noted that one requirement for the scholarship is that the recipient keeps in touch with the organization periodically. This, he said, allows the group to see how the student is progressing, what their hopes and goals are and how the club can ultimately help them achieve these goals.

Ever the optimist, Draper said the organization hopes the individuals receiving the scholarship will get their education and ultimately become more well-rounded people.

“Troy University is very appreciative to the Panama City Beach Optimist Club for their benevolence and generosity to our students. These scholarships are wonderful resources for our students in the Panama City Beach area,” said Becky Watson, Associate Vice Chancellor for Development for Troy University. “The members of the Panama City Beach Optimist Club are some of the finest individuals I have met and want to see their community thrive in a positive manner. We are proud to partner with the club, its members and the organization.”