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A charitable organization has spent more than 30 years donating money for descendants of military personnel, awarding a $3,000 scholarship to 10 winners — one being a UCF student.

Ryan Garwood, a junior health sciences major, was awarded the scholarship from the Cape Canaveral Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America at a luncheon on July 21 in Brevard County, where he was recognized as one of the future leaders of America.

Founded in 1948, the MOAACC has awarded scholarship grants to descendants and wards of active duty or retired members of the Uniformed Services of the United States since 1984, according to the MOAACC website. The chapter is part of the national organization MOAA, which was founded in 1929 and is the largest military officer association in the United States with about 380,000 members.

"We get just wonderful students; it's eye-watering to see the accomplishments and the performances of these students in their applications," said Capt. Ernest Joy, chairman of the MOAACC scholarship selection committee.

At UCF, Garwood represents the College of Health and Public Affairs as a Student Government Association senator, and serves as the chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee within the SGA Senate.

The chapter's members — almost 1,400 of whom are retired or related to military officers — sponsor the scholarship program and put their own contributions toward the funds that are available each year for eligible students at each university and college in Florida.

In 2005, Joy said the organization jumped from awarding $2,500 scholarships to $3,500, and it wasn't until 2009 when the MOAACC leveled at $3,000 scholarships for each of the 10 winners.

"One other very interesting feature about this is that it's not limited to just one year. Our rules are that students may apply as long as they continue to be eligible," Joy said. However, he said there is currently a maximum of three years that a student can win the scholarship.

Garwood won the $3,000 MOAACC scholarship last year as well, which he put in his savings account to be used throughout the school year. While other students have been known to use their money for studying abroad, applying to graduate school or taking exams for medical school, Garwood said he plans on putting this year's scholarship toward college tuition, housing and books.

Although he has received other scholarships after high school, Garwood said this scholarship is probably the biggest he has been awarded, and is a huge help for students getting through college.

Students are able to apply for the MOAACC between January and June at moaacc.org, and Joy said about 25 applications are submitted every year, where 10 winners are then chosen to receive scholarships of equal amounts. The MOAACC honors military service members, both living and deceased, who are sponsoring the individuals receiving the scholarships.

"My grandfather was in WWII; he's my official sponsor for the award," Garwood said. "He's the reason why I'm eligible for the award."

Like other applicant sponsors and members of the organization, Joy's military past — 31 years of active duty in the U.S. Navy — is something that motivates him to continue honoring officers and awarding students with a military background. Starting out scrubbing dishes at the age of 17 in 1963, to becoming captain of his own ship before leaving the Navy in 1998, Joy said he was given an uncommon responsibility and learned to grow up very quickly.

"I was raised in a Navy family. I have a long and wonderful background in the military," he said. "This is a wonderful program, and I was asked about four years ago to participate, and I jumped at the opportunity."

The winners of the MOAACC 2015 Scholarship are:

Rae Antenucci — Eckerd College

Shelby Beauchamp — Florida State University

Joshua Bohorquez — University of South Florida

Michael Dunn — University of Alabama

Ryan Garwood — University of Central Florida

Chad Harris — University of North Florida

Kathryn Kendall — University of Washington

Jack Oblack — University of Colorado

Bryan Pierce — University of Florida

Karen Riebsame — Berry College

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Rachel Stuart is the News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @RachSage or email her at RachelS@CentralFloridaFuture.com.

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