Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology [AAST] student Brandon Panepinto has received the second of two scholarships awarded for the first time by the Friends of the Carolina Forest Library.
One Carolina Forest High School [CFHS]student and one AAST student were eligible for the scholarship.
CFHS senior Bridgett Young was the other scholarship recipient.
“I’m very happy and proud to be able to offer this scholarship to deserving students every year,” said Cathy Tourloukis, vice-president of the Friends group.
Panepinto lives in Carolina Forest, and his base school has been Socastee High School.
In addition to meeting the criteria of living in The Forest and attending either CFHS or AAST, the scholarship application included a copy of the student’s transcript, an essay, a mini-biography and letters of recommendation.
An interview with the scholarship committee was also part of the application process.
The 18-year-old is the son of Anna and Salvatore Panepinto, and he has one older sister, Alexis, who is a student at Coastal Carolina University.
Panepinto also received a $1,000 scholarship from his church, Our Lady Star of the Sea.
His mother is a stay-at-home mom, and his father is retired from the Port Authority in New Jersey.
Originally from New Jersey, the family moved to the area in 2008.
This summer, Panepinto will work at Kroger for the third year.
Panepinto will attend Horry-Georgetown Technical College where he’ll study computer networking and cyber security.
“People don’t realize how big the technology coming to the world is,” he said. “Having cyber security is going to help secure peoples’ systems, and help them understand what they should do to prevent attacks.”
Panepinto has participated in the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition CyberPatriot, which is an educational program created by the Air Force Association to inspire students towards careers in STEM subjects.
“This year, we placed second in States, and were invited to a competition in Charleston where we got fourth,” he said, adding, “This was our first year, so fourth was pretty good.”
As part of his application process, Panepinto explained why the book, “The Art of Invisibility” by Kevin Mitnick is important to him.
The book includes true accounts of how peoples’ identities have been stolen, and includes step-by-step instructions about how people can protect themselves.
This book, Panepinto says, was instrumental in helping him make his career choice.
Still active in the CyberPatriot program, Panepinto has also been in the Technology Student Association, FRC Robotics, the Spanish Club, the Game Club, and Mu Alpha Theta.
At the end of his junior year, he was a junior marshal.
In his free time, Panepinto enjoys “learning more about computer stuff,” going to the beach and playing games.
The Friends of the Carolina Forest Library is a fundraising group that supports library programs.
The group meets at the library the first Monday of each month from 6-7 p.m. and new members are always welcome.