The president's visit may have dominated the headlines, but it wasn't the only reason last week for Boca to take a much-deserved bow. Two other events—one that showcased the area's entrepreneurial spirit and another that celebrated our rich cultural scene—created their own share of buzz.
2012 FAU Business Plan Competition
Hats off to Kimberly Gramm, director of the Adams Center for Entrepreneurship at Florida Atlantic University, and her team for staging the most successful Business Plan Competition to date. Some 215 teams, armed with original business concepts, registered for the fourth-annual event (up from the 167 that competed last year) in the hopes claiming a share of more than $200,000 in cash and prizes. The competition was whittled down to 21 teams in three categories—FAU students, high school students and local entrepreneurs comprised of FAU alums and members of the business community. A panel of judges for each category evaulated presentations by the finalists and awarded the following winners:
• Entrepreneur track (pictured above): Jose Christiansen, Mark Fredericks and David Fredericks captured $15,000 in cash and prizes for their website switchmybooks.com. The concept? Help college students save money by providing a listing service where students can buy, sell and exchange college textbooks.
• FAU student track: Neil Parsont won $15,000 in cash and prizes for an online service that helps to pair students and tutors. The concept, called Owl Educational Web Services, allows students and tutors to directly communicate, which differentiates it from competitor sites.
• High school track (pictured below): Austin Tedesco, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, won a four-year scholarship to FAU for the prototype beforeyouturnitin.com—a proofreading service for high school students.
Congratulations to all the winners—and to FAU for continuing to imbue the community with the spirit of entrepreneurialism.
Red Rose Dinner Gala
The South Florida chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters held its annual Red Rose gala at Brooks restaurant in Deerfield Beach. In addition to honoring Jan McArt (pictured below), Boca's legendary "First Lady of Florida's Musical Theater," with a lifetime achievement award, the evening was filled with jaw-dropping performances by the area's stars of today and tomorrow.
McArt, named director of theatre arts program development at Lynn University in 2004, has spent nearly three decades developing national-quality theater and cabaret in Boca—all while maintaining her own Broadway and touring theater career. When she took the microphone, McArt dispensed with her pre-planned speech and instead shared stories about the people in the room who had come to share in her evening. It was a spontaneous and heartwarming moment that set the tone for an evening filled with emotional performances.
Among those who brought the house down at the Red Rose dinner:
• Chloe Dolandis: The winner of the local NSAL's musical theater competition, and the top prize of $2,000, continues to ride high following a year that saw the release of her first album—"Bring Back the Fever." The jazz/blues/pop CD cracked the top 20 in digital jazz sales in the first week after its April 2011 release. Check out the video that accompanies her single, "New Suit," on YouTube.
• Agnieszka Sornek, Anna Tsukervanik and Sophia Barrett: The local NSAL chapter awarded each of these Lynn University students $1,000 scholarships—and for good reason. Sornek, a native of Poland, is working on her Professional Performance Certificate in collaborative piano; Tsukervanik, born in Uzbekistan, is studying Professional Performance in violin with esteemed artist-in-residence Elmar Oliveira; and Barrett, a drama major who is being mentored by McArt, has acted in and directed several plays.
Special thanks to Dame Alyce Erickson, one of the gala directors and the former Junior League Woman Volunteer of the Year, for her own passion and dedication to the arts in and around Boca. You can't ask for a more enjoyable dinner companion.