Seminole Hard Rock Gasparilla Pirate Fest

Local High School Seniors Awarded $53,000 in College Scholarships by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla

Local High School Seniors Awarded $53,000 in College Scholarships 

by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla

Nearly $1 Million in College Scholarships Awarded by the Charity Fund Since its Inception

Tampa, Fla. – (July 7, 2020) –  Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla (YMKG), hosts of the annual Seminole Hard Rock Gasparilla Pirate Fest and Ashley HomeStore Children’s Gasparilla presented by Chick-fil-A Tampa Bay, are typically known for their plundering ways. Today, however, the legion of pirates announced that they were sharing their treasure with eight deserving high school seniors from the Tampa Bay area. The recent graduates were awarded $53,000 in college scholarships as part of the Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla Community Fund.

Over the past two decades, the YMKG Community Fund has awarded $943,000 in college scholarships to students graduating from public, private, and parochial high schools in Hillsborough County. Each year, Tampa Bay area high school principals nominate one (1) student for every one-hundred (100) students or fraction thereof in its graduating class. Nominees complete a comprehensive application, which is reviewed by a selection panel. A small group of finalists then complete face-to-face interviews before scholarship recipients are selected.

“Due to COVID, we conducted our interviews virtually this year,” explained Captain Pete Lackman of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla. “Even in this new environment, each of our recipients shined, showcasing strong leadership and dedication to their academic pursuits. We selected incredibly deserving recipients who will go far.”

Each of the honorees excelled in academics, athletics, and leadership activities. For the first year in Community Fund history, eight nominees received scholarships.

YMKG is very proud to introduce the 2020 Gasparilla Community Fund Scholarship Class.

  • Kateri Espinosa, Gaither High School – Attending Princeton University
  • Phoebe Funai, Brooks De Bartolo High School – Attending the University of Florida
  • Yusuf Gultekin, Brandon High School – Attending the University of Florida
  • Jackson Hacker, H.B. Plant High School – Attending the University of Florida
  • Elijah Ketchup, Jr., East Bay High School – Attending Hillsborough Community College
  • Isabella Kotopka, East Bay High School – Attending Florida Atlantic University
  • Sophia Kotopka, East Bay High School – Attending Gordon State College
  • Elijah Seay, Lennard High School – Attending the University of South Florida

Please use this link for images of the 2020 YMKG Community Fund recipients. Photo credit should be given to YMKG Community Fund.

While this year’s honorees were unable to experience a classroom invasion by plundering pirates, their announcement still included an element of surprise. Each recipient was asked to participate in a secondary interview joined by their family, only to be surprised with their official award announcement.

For more than 100 years, YMKG has hosted Tampa’s signature Gasparilla festivities, our community’s longest-standing tradition. The organization has a dedicated history of philanthropic support, including hospital visits, elementary school invasions and private sails upon the Jose Gasparilla with local pediatric cancer patients.

About Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla Community Fund Corporation

Founded by members of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, the Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla Scholarship Foundation, and its successor, the Community Fund was initially substantially funded by the 83rd King Gasparilla, George M. Steinbrenner III, and the New York Yankees. Today proceeds from an annual charity dinner hosted by Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa, an annual sporting clay tournament, and private contributions from Ye Mystic Krewe Gasparilla members help fund the cause.

Past scholarship recipients have graduated from Hillsborough County schools, including Academy of the Holy Names, Armwood High School, Berkeley Preparatory School, Blake High School, Bloomingdale High School, Brandon High School, Brooks De Bartolo High School, The Cambridge School, Chamberlain High School, Durant High School, East Bay High School, Gaither High School, Hillsborough High School, Jefferson High School, Jesuit High School, King High School, Lennard High School, Plant High School, Plant City High School, Robinson High School, Spoto High School, Steinbrenner High School, Strawberry Crest High School, Tampa Baptist Academy, Tampa Bay Technical High School, Tampa Preparatory School, and Wharton High School.

Past scholarship recipients have attended Barnard College, Brown University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Emory University, Flagler College, Florida Atlantic University, Florida State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Gordon State College, Harding University, Harvard University, Hillsborough Community College, Lee University, Princeton University, Queens University of Charlotte, Southeastern University, Trinity University, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, University of Miami, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, University of South Florida, and Yale University