The annual Stein Family College Scholarship of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation was awarded this month to Sydney Levine, a soon-to-be graduate of Frank W. Cox High School in Virginia Beach.
Levine is the ninth recipient of the four-year scholarship of up to $10,000 per year that is provided to a Jewish student in Tidewater. She heads to the University of Virginia this fall as she enters the Class of 2021.
As a gymnast from the age of three, Levine was raised to understand and learn the value of “hard work, dedication and perseverance.” She also knows what it means to overcome challenges, having competed regionally and nationally as a level 10 gymnast from an early-age through high school. Levine says, “My life consisted of countless practices lasting for four hours a day, five days a week, all year round.”
Potentially on her way to compete for a college scholarship, Levine severely injured her back during training in her sophomore year of high school. Out for the season and overwhelmed with disappointment, Levine learned a key life lesson as she fought back from injury using strength training, physical therapy, and a determined and positive attitude and outlook on life. “For me, it was about perseverance and sticking to something I was passionate about,” she says. Eventually, she was able to compete again, but not at the same high level.
Levine learned that gymnastics wasn’t everything and while continuing to compete, she applied her determination and dedication to her academics. “I challenged myself to take hard courses through high school, and to remain passionate about learning,” she says. In fact, she has successfully taken more than five Advanced Placement (AP) courses and will graduate in the top 3% of her class. “I am looking forward to attending UVA this fall and can’t wait to see where this next chapter brings me.”
In speaking about education, family, hard work, and Tikkun Olam (repairing the world), Levine references these Jewish values, which she learned from her parents and grandparents and through her experience going to Hebrew school and becoming a Bat Mitzvah at Temple Israel.
Levine’s older sister is finishing her junior year at Old Dominion University and her younger sister is in ninth grade, also at Cox High School. Levine learned about the Stein Scholarship after her mother read about it in the Jewish News earlier this year. She applied for this scholarship among several others, and says she is “extremely grateful to have been selected to receive this prestigious honor from the Stein Family and TJF.
The Stein Family College Scholarship was established in 2009 in memory of Arlene Stein who did not complete college because of financial hardship. Jerry Stein, her beloved husband, passed away in 2014. The Tidewater Jewish Foundation works closely with the Stein Family in administering this generous scholarship to a deserving Tidewater teen.
Prior recipients of the scholarship include Morgan Conley (Brandeis University ’13), Eric Smith (University of Virginia ’14), Marissa Arager (George Mason University ’15), Avi Malkin (College of William and Mary ’16), Dinar Yusufov ( James Madison University ’17), Amanda Gladstone (Virginia Tech ’18), Dana Cohen (Virginia Tech ’19) and Brett Pomerantz (Virginia Tech ’20).
– Scott Kaplan