Since its inception in 1980, the Port St. Lucie Business Women has supported women in the advancement of their education at Indian River State College and of their careers. To date, the Business Women has donated more than $125,000 to the Indian River State College Foundation through its annual scholarship awards, assuring the future of 71 local women. Two outstanding students were chosen as this year’s scholarship recipients, which was presented at the Business Women’s May 20 meeting held at Tutto Fresco in St. Lucie West.

The Port St. Lucie Business Women/Kay Schaeffer Memorial Scholarship is an annual award of $2,500 for tuition and books to women who plan to attend, or are enrolled at, Indian River State College.

Shelby Durden is the recipient of the Port St. Lucie Business Women/Kay Schaeffer Memorial Baccalaureate Scholarship. She graduated as Valedictorian from Fort Pierce Westwood High School and received an Associate’s Degree from IRSC in 2015. During this time, she was a member of the All-Florida Academic Team, president of the Nu Iota chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, IRSC’s Honor Society, and served as secretary for Hallstrom Planetarium. She continued her education at IRSC, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Biology Degree in 2018.
“It is with great pride that I can say I am the first member of my family to graduate with a college degree,” says Durden. “Education was a secondary priority because of day-to-day survival issues. The only way I was able to go to college was by receiving scholarships based upon my academic excellence,” she explains.
Currently, Durden is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at IRSC. She works as a private home health aide with emphasis on senior care. “My ultimate goal is to serve and make a difference in the health field,” says Durden. “I have the heart to serve and care for others which I will be able to utilize in the health field.”
Lizbeth Ayala has been awarded the Port St. Lucie Business Women/Kay Schaeffer Memorial High School Scholarship. She recently graduated from Lincoln Park Academy where she received the Florida Athletic Coaches Association All-Academic Award for two years in a row while on the girls’ basketball team. She also participated in girls’ track and field. Concurrently, as a dual enrollment student, Ayala pursued and received an Associate of Arts degree from IRSC. She plans to pursue of Bachelor of Science in biology at IRSC, with the goal of applying to medical school after completing her degree. According to Ayala, “My decision to pursue this career path has been motivated by people in my family who have been afflicted with debilitating ailments. Because of this situation, I have been exposed to the field of healthcare and feel I can be of great service.”
Ayala informed the Port St. Lucie Business Women’s Scholarship Committee that her father is the sole provider for their family of six people. “This past academic year has been especially difficult because of the negative impact the pandemic had on employment,” says Ayala. “Receiving this scholarship helps alleviate the hardship my family would have otherwise faced,” she adds.
Students may apply for scholarships starting November 1 through the IRSC online scholarship application portal. For more information contact Indian River State College at (772) 462-4786, or by e-mail at info@irscfoundation.org.

The Port St. Lucie Business Women is a 41-year-old, 501 (c) (6) non-profit professional organization dedicated to promoting the interests of businesswomen and serving our community in an effective way. For more information visit www.pslbw.com. Follow their Facebook page for updates about events, programs and community involvement.