APOLLO BEACH — A recent East Bay High School graduate has snagged one of the highest ranking scholarships in the country.
Catherine D. Flocken, now 18, known to her family and friends as “Cathy,” has earned a full scholarship valued at $365,000 to the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT.
The Academy is the smallest of the four military academies with 1,030 cadets. Admission is by a national competitive evaluation based on a wide variety of factors.
Now in her fifth of a seven-week Swab Summer (boot camp) that ends following a week’s training on the USS Eagle, a 300-foot sailing vessel, Cathy plans to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree while at the academy so she can work in government intelligence and international affairs.
Cathy has pushed for excellence ever since arriving in Apollo Beach with her mother, Idalya, from Central America on her sixth birthday after Idalya was granted political refugee status from Nicaragua where her family had been involved in the revolutions against both the Somoza Family dictatorship and the Communist Sandinistas. Her mother has since married Walter Flocken, and the family still lives in Apollo Beach.
While at East Bay, Cathy was ninth in her graduating class with a grade-point-average of 3.750. Her academic honors include College Board AP Scholar; National Honor Society; National Spanish Honor Society; the Tampa Tribune Honor Scholar and the National Scholar/Athlete Award. She reads and writes Mandarin Chinese and is also fluent in spoken and written Spanish.
“She took private lessons at the Clearwater Chinese School on Sundays for several years, making the 85-mile round trip,” her father said.
Cathy was a three-sport athlete – swimming, football and softball and earned two varsity letters each year at East Bay. In 2010, she played on the State Softball Championship Team and was selected for the Florida 5A All-Star Softball 2nd Team.
Somehow, she also managed to belong to the Chess Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
In May she was awarded the Brighthouse Sports Network David Logan Scholarship for excelling in both athletics and academics.
But Cathy still managed to find time for other things- including community service.
“She volunteered Saturday mornings all through middle school as translator/clerk at the Calvary Lutheran Church’s thrift store, Angel Attic in Ruskin,” said Idalya Flocken. “Then in high school she volunteered 300 hours at C.A.R.E. (Critter Animal and Rescue Effort) in Ruskin.”
CARE is a no-kill animal shelter. Cathy also did community service at Habitat for Humanity and answered telephones for the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, her mother added.
Winning a David Logan Scholarship was the icing on the cake, Cathy added.
Logan was a former Tampa Bay Buccaneer and later the anchor of Sports Connection on Bay News 9. He died from a blood clot at the age of 42 in 1999.
The tie-breaker for the scholarship was her essay in which she wrote why she believed she deserved the scholarship.
She says it is because her ambition is a rewarding career in intelligence or the Diplomatic Corp.
“Either career will require dedication, determination, a superior education, and being of exceptional character. To prepare myself, I’ve set high goals. They are, to excel in science and math, to excel in more than one foreign language, and to excel in multiple varsity sports,” she said.
In her interview, she went on to say, “Balancing my goals of achieving academic excellence, proficiency in two foreign languages, excelling in multiple varsity athletics, and continued community volunteering, while keeping a sense of perspective in my personal, home and social life has been a challenge. A rewarding career in service to my country is worth the challenge.”
“She is very dedicated and works extremely hard. We are looking forward to seeing more good things from her,” her father said.