Every year, a Palm Beach Atlantic University woman is awarded the Woman of Distinction Scholarship, and this year's winner represents the Arts and Sciences department of PBA. A Woman of Distinction is not simply a woman who works hard or obtains good grades like the quintessential collegiate scholarship winner. A Woman of Distinction reaches further; she represents a woman who actively seeks out unceasing victory in the various portions of her life.
This year's winner is Senior Maria Sol Echarren. She is a native of Argentina and daughter to Walter Echarren and Liliana Leegstra. Echarren is successfully majoring in English with an equally thriving minor in Spanish. Her achievements have been consistent throughout her academic career.
Echarren was the class salutatorian at Fort Pierce Westwood High School in 2007, won the Young Floridian Candidate, and the French and Math award the same year. She continued her success at Indian River Community College where she received recognition as an All-USA/All-State Academic Team nominee. At PBA, she excels in her academic and personal accomplishments.
Her nomination by at least four of her professors sets her apart as a worthy choice to win the coveted scholarship.
“What makes Maria particularly deserving of this award is that her interests and commitments are so consistent with PBA's mission,” said Assistant Professor of English, Dr. Jenifer Elmore. Her love for Christ and her fervor to serve others saturates her public, as well as personal, life.
In a profile written in June of 2007 by the Palm Beach Post, Echarren was asked her favorite spare time activities.
“Besides playing soccer, I love to draw and paint wherever or however possible... and, of course, spending time reading God's Word,” said Echarren.
Although she has developed an ardor for the English and Spanish languages, she also has varying degrees of proficiency in Portuguese, French and Italian. Using her unique ability to learn new languages, she serves at PBA tutoring her peers in Spanish. Outside the campus, Echarren volunteers at her church, Grace Fellowship, by teaching adults and children both Spanish and English. Her nomination letter also cites other service activities in which she is involved.
She has been volunteering for the past year at the children's ministry called Son Beams at Grace Fellowship. Through this program, she teaches and assists with activities for kids from four to seven-years- old at least twice a month on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. She also volunteers regularly in other ways at her church, often performing the humble tasks of set-up and clean-up for various events.
An artistic side also accompanies Echarren and her accomplishments. At her former college, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society benefited from her determination and creative passion. She assisted in raising money for the group by submitting to and winning an original T-shirt design contest. The group has continually used her design to help raise support for other service organizations.
Associate Professor of English, Dr. Kathleen Anderson attests to Echarren's creative abilities being used at PBA.
“She developed her own artistic side in my Contemporary Dramatic Literature class, in which she overcame her natural reserve to perform two roles in a comic play with zest, eliciting praise from her peers for her dramatic improvement over the course of rehearsals.”
Echarren says she seems “quiet on the surface” but she really likes to “talk and laugh about anything silly.”
“Maria is a very conscientious, dedicated student who makes the most of her talents and abilities. Extremely bright, hard-working and self-disciplined, she strives for excellence with a consistency and focus that I greatly admire and that will help her to be successful in whatever goals she pursues,”
Whether academically or artistically, Echarren masterfully combines her natural zeal and tenaciousness with her grace and sophistication and proceeds to drizzle the potent concoction of success over every facet of her life.
“[Maria Sol Echarren] is a mature young woman who truly deserves special recognition,said Dr. Beate Rodewald, associate professor of English.