Debora Dionicio-Garcia, a senior at Sussex Academy, has been named a semifinalist for the 2021 class of the Coca-Cola Scholars program. In all, 1,609 high school seniors were selected as semifinalists from a pool of 99,403 submitted applications from across the country, based on their academic excellence, leadership and service demonstrated in school and community activities. The semifinalists are in the running for 150 college scholarships worth $20,000.

A joint effort of Coca-Cola bottlers across the country and the Coca‑Cola Company, the Coca-Cola Scholars Program is the largest corporate-sponsored, achievement-based scholarship program in the United States. With the addition of the 2021 class, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation will have provided more than 6,450 Coke Scholars nationwide with more than $75 million in scholarships over the course of 33 years.

“We believe that identifying these young leaders throughout the country and encouraging their passion for serving others not only empowers the students, but also lifts up those around them.” said Jane Hale Hopkins, president of the foundation. “The Coca-Cola system is dedicated to giving back to the communities they serve, and the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation is proud to be a part of that commitment.”

In addition to receiving college scholarships, those students selected as Coca-Cola Scholars will be welcomed into group of alumni that, through networking, collaborations and friendships, strives to make a greater impact together. Recent initiatives include a podcast called “The SIP,” Coke Scholars Care (Coke Scholars doing good in the midst of the pandemic) and the fifth year of a coaching program that partners seasoned alumni with first-year Scholars as they transition to college. Every five years, all alumni are invited to a Coca-Cola Scholars Leadership Summit.

Semifinalists are now being asked to complete Phase 2 applications, which include essays, a recommendation and transcripts. An independent selection committee will review the applications and select 250 regional finalists by the end of January to participate in online interviews. In March 2021, 150 Coca‑Cola Scholars will be named to receive a $20,000 college scholarship and participate in the Coca-Cola Scholars Leadership Development Institute facilitated by program alumni.

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