Scholars Helping Collars

Scholarship Winners

2024 Winners

Garrett Skolkin - 1st Place Winner of P.L.A.Y.'s 2024 Scholars Helping Collars Scholarship collage.png__PID:2014a8d0-48e9-4659-aa60-649d9394a733

Garrett Skolkin

We are thrilled to announce Garrett Skolkin as this year’s recipient of P.L.A.Y.’s 2024 Scholar Helping Collars Scholarship. Garrett’s dedication to the welfare of animals surpasses that of many. Through his incredible initiative, Garrett has conducted independent research and collaborated with esteemed medical professionals, resulting in his own invaluable contribution to the forthcoming revision of “The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.” After many years of volunteering, spearheading animal research proposals, and working at Veterinary Orthopedic Sports Medicine, Garrett is now set to attend the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in Biochemistry. Garrett plans to apply to veterinary school and work towards a DVM, and one day start his own veterinary practice where he can specialize in treating companion animals.

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Congratulations to our 2nd & 3rd Place Winners:

2nd Place - Camryn Pivarnik

3rd Place - Yadira Cervantes

2023 Winners

P.L.A.Y.'s Winner of 2023 Scholars Helping Collars Scholarship

Amanda Ortiz

P.L.A.Y. is pleased to announce and congratulate the 2023 winner of our Scholars Helping Collars Scholarship, Amanda Ortiz. Her passion and dedication to animal welfare, as well as being a positive role model to her fellow Hispanic peers in the STEM industry, has inspired our team at P.L.A.Y. During her four years in high school, Amanda has played a considerable role in conserving the earth, animals and people. At 13, she decided to attend Arizona Agribusiness and Equine Center High School, which focuses heavily on agriculture and veterinary medicine. She continued her efforts by volunteering as an Animal Ambassador, an outreach program that advocates for conservation and ecology and focuses on educating diverse audiences of all ages. As an Animal Ambassador, Amanda has revamped enclosures, created new care sheets, implemented practices that abide by chemical and lab safety laws and created and managed their Instagram. In June 2022, Amanda was 1 of 12 students to travel to South Africa to work with a wildlife veterinarian at the Amakhala Game Reserve. To read more about Amanda’s background in the Animal Ambassador Program, her experience in Africa and how she is continuing her journey, click here.

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Congratulations to our 2nd & 3rd Place Winners:

2nd Place - Alexis Pongratz

3rd Place - Mihika Chechi

2022 Winners

P.L.A.Y.'s Winner of 2022 Scholars Helping Collars Scholarship

Blake Austin

We are thrilled to announce and congratulate the 2022 winner of P.L.A.Y.’s Scholars Helping Collars Scholarship, Blake Austin. With her passion for animal welfare and extensive 2,000 volunteer hours, we were truly inspired by her dedication. Over the course of the decade, Blake has raised over $15,000 for the Midcoast Humane Animal shelter to help provide a higher quality environment until the animals were able to find their forever home. From fostering over 160 animals to participating in rescue relays, she learned that by using her platform, she was able to raise awareness of animal warfare and donate the recognition money back to the Midcoast Humane Animal shelter. To read more about how Blake’s interest and love of animals motivated her to be an advocate for the welfare of all animals click here.

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Congratulations to our 2nd & 3rd Place Winners:

2nd Place - Diana Castro

3rd Place - Isabella Del Gaudio

2021 Winners

Alexis Wood

P.L.A.Y. is pleased to announce and congratulate the 2021 winner of our Scholars Helping Collars Scholarship, Alexis Wood. We were inspired by her passion and dedication to animal rights and welfare, as well as moved by the adoption story of her dog, Athena. Over the last two years, Alexis has been attending the Seacoast School of Technology (SST) Animal and Plant Science program, where she has had the opportunity to work with small animals by providing them with the care they need. SST led her to join the Future Farmers of America (FFA). In this organization, she learned the importance of teaching those around her the impact they can make on their community. To read more about how Alexis’s interest and love of animals motivated her to be an advocate for the rights of all animals click here!

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Congratulations to our 2nd & 3rd Place Winners:

2nd Place - Grace Smathers

3rd Place - Sophia Pruitt

2020 Winners

Swaycha Goli

P.L.A.Y. is excited to announce and congratulate the 2020 winner of our Scholars Helping Collars scholarship, Swaycha Goli. We were moved when the adoption of her new best friend, Daisy, soon turned into a mission to help the other animals at the shelter still waiting to find their forever homes. Swaycha started the Enloe SPCA Club at her high school where she and her club mates encouraged their community members to donate supplies and money to the SPCA of Wake County so the shelter could run sufficiently and to raise awareness for the animals still available for adoption. To read more about how Swaycha’s love for animal rights and welfare has impacted her community and future academic plans, click here!

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Congratulations to our 2nd & 3rd Place Winners:

2nd Place - Bailee Rowles

3rd Place - Analise Hogan

2019 Winners

Claire Binfield

P.L.A.Y. is pleased to announce and congratulate this year’s Scholars Helping Collars scholarship winner, Claire Binfield. With a passion for diving both on and off the court, this student athlete possesses a deep admiration and love for marine life and we were very inspired by her autonomous efforts at making a difference in the lives of animals worldwide. From her Girl Scout Days spent in Costa Rica and Panama observing and studying sea turtles to her experience with raising a Guide Dogs for the Blind puppy, we are confident that her selflessness and yearning for saving our oceans and its wildlife will continue throughout her college career and beyond.

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Congratulations to our 2nd & 3rd Place Winners:

2nd Place - Camille Hoffman

3rd Place - Yasmin Ballew

2018 Winners

Amelia Smith

We are thrilled to congratulate Amelia Smith on winning first place in this year’s Scholars Helping Collars scholarship. During her time spent volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand, Amelia learned about the harsh truths regarding elephant treatment in the entertainment industry and how she could make a difference by learning veterinary skills that could be applied to assisting animals in need. The tools and information she learned from this experience were not the only things that followed her home to the states. Read her essay to learn more about the pup that eventually made its way to her all the way from Thailand and how this duo is working together to help high school students de-stress.

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Congratulations to our 2nd & 3rd Place Winners:

2nd Place - Martin Welych-Flanagan

3rd Place - Emma Cress

2017 Winners

Leah Pesso

After receiving a number of inspiring and heartwarming submissions we are happy to announce that we have selected Leah Pesso as this year’s winner and recipient of the scholarship award. Leah Pesso inspired all of us here at P.L.A.Y. with her drive in helping abandoned dogs residing at Puerto Rico’s ‘Dead Dog Beach’. Read her essay and find out what drove her to write a book about Taco, a puppy she and her family found on the streets of Puerto Rico and adopted!”

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Congratulations to our 2nd & 3rd Place Winners:

2nd Place - Mia Franzoia

3rd Place - Danielle Johnson

2016 Winners

Andrew Harmon

Congratulations to Andrew Harmon on winning our 2015 scholarship! His essay displays an admirable work ethic and commitment at helping build dog runs for his local animal shelter. Harmon demonstrated impressive business skills in his effort at reaching out to local businesses and having them contribute what they could to the cause. He put his own two hands to work and helped build the dog runs with some of his friends and fellow Boy Scout troop members. We hope this scholarship gives Harmon the chance to build a future where he can continue to make a positive difference in the lives of animals.

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Congratulations to our 2nd & 3rd Place Winners:

2nd Place - Daniel Kennon

3rd Place - Elliott Davis

2015 Winner

Stephanie Duno

P.L.A.Y. is extremely excited to announce Stephanie Duno as our 2014 scholarship winner. Duno shares a story about a duck that pulls at the heartstrings and offers insight as to how animals and humans are connected in more ways than way may think. We loved reading about her successful non-profit organization “Pawssible” and the wonderful work it does in bringing together both people and animals that have been victim to pain and neglect. Her essay is filled with personality and leaves no question that she will be a driving force in ensuring that all animals get the protection and love they deserve.

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2014 Winner

Nicole Hokkanen

Nicole Hokkanen has been awarded our 2013 scholarship and we are happy to share her essay and a bit of her life story with you! Nicole’s essay describes her experiences in fostering animals from kill shelters and the emotional toll it can have on a person. Her story of losing a puppy to a virus that could have been prevented would rightfully anger and sadden anyone with a heart, but we were inspired by her ability to use her emotions as a driving force in continuing the fight to save the lives of animals at kill shelters.

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2013 Winner

Alejandra Medina

P.L.A.Y. is excited to announce our inaugural Scholars Helping Collars winner, Alejandra Medina. Her essay will inspire anyone to follow their dreams. Medina conveys how her volunteering experience at Summit Animal Hospital pointed her in the direction of pursuing a career in the veterinary field. Her autonomous character and thirst for knowledge brings us joy in knowing that we are able to help Medina further her education and bring her one step closer to having a career she is passionate about.

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