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Two Students, Two Paths in the Arts

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Posted: Monday, July 3, 2017 1:00 am

Homestead Center for the Arts awards $500.00 scholarships to local students. 

Every year, multiple non-profit groups receive scholarship applications fromstudents whose accomplishments range from excellent to amazing. Homestead Center for the Arts (HCA) is no exception and the two awardees for 2017 represent two markedly different paths although each are graduates of South Dade Senior High School.

Phanesia Pharel has a passion for the theater and is understandably drawn to New York City where she will enter Barnard College. Although she may have entertained her kindergarten friends, her “official” work in drama began in middle school. By ninth grade, her place in theater productions was notable. As a Theater Magnet Student, she did far more than audition and win acting roles. She earned District and State recognition in Monologues, Solo Musical, Student Director, and Playwriting. She helped her school to be selected as Florida’s single one-act play representative for the 2014 International Thespian Festival. With that acknowledgement, she went on to be chosen as only one of four student playwrights selected to participate in the 2016 Playworks Program with her play, “Penelope.” Even though her heart is with theater, she excelled at other studies as well and took Advance Placement and dual-enrollment classes. She was part of the student government and was selected as a peace ambassador for the State Attorney General’s Program. If that wasn’t enough, during her high school years she completed more than 1,000 hours of community service. As part of her service, she helped found the “Adopt-A-Grandparent” program at a local nursing home. All of this would be impressive enough. The fact she managed to deal with the trauma of their house burning to the ground in 2013 was another demonstration of her strength of character.

Emily Seiter, the second scholarship awardee has an intense love for music. Even though guitar is her favorite, she also plays the bass, ukulele, piano, trumpet, drums, flugelhorn, and baritone. Her first guitar lessons were in the sixth grade and she joined the guitar club in the ninth grade as well as served as a member of the high school band for four years. Last year, she was in a guitar quartet chosen to go to the University of Miami where they played multiple pieces as the opening act for world-famous classical guitarist Irina Kulikova. Her community service mostly centered around music with church and other organizations. She played for three years in a church youth group and continued with numerous performances after changing churches. Being a teacher’s aide for a guitar class is good experience for her future plans to devote herself to teaching. Her parents didn’t attend college and Seiter wants to make her own way without the crushing debt to often incurred by students. She will stay local for her education to keep her college costs down, knowing there will be school children waiting when she finishes her degree.      

Homestead Center for the Arts does dedicate their two annual scholarships for graduating high school seniors who pursue study in art or the performing arts. For more information about HCA go to

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