There are many things Divya Navani has come to appreciate about growing up in a close-knit community like Key West. But her experiences with local music have been the most profound, fueling a passion she believes will carry her into a career as a music attorney. The Key West High School senior is off to Harvard University, where the extraordinary costs of attendance will be offset by a $27,500 scholarship from the Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce. The award is called the Honor Roll 100/Charley P. and Orsolina Toppino Memorial Scholarship, funded by the Toppino businesses and Chamber members.
Navani’s musical journey began with the flute, piano and traditional band performance before evolving into an appreciation for the cultural influences of music. In her scholarship application, Navani referenced the impact of taking part in the island’s Goombay Festival and Bahama Village Crooks Second Line program. Eventually, she experimented with film scoring and even studied abroad in Argentina and Greece.
After an internship at local radio station Island 106.9, Navani is now a full-fledged disc jockey, hosting her own live show from 4-6 p.m. each weekday. “It’s an alternative rock program,” she says, “but I focus on artists who are underrepresented in the alternative space, like women or Latinos or blacks.”
At Harvard, Navani will major in data analytics, a cross between applied math and computing. “I’ve done a lot of research on where the music business is going and today you can make a digital experience that is incredibly personal,” she explains. “You can listen to five songs and a program will know who and what you’re interested in.” That kind of educational background will set the stage for law school and then representing artists, whom Navani says have been negatively impacted by major record labels.
The Chamber also awarded a pair of scholarships to seniors with career plans that fall into the organization’s definition of vocational professions. Leela Sorbelli will attend the College of the Florida Keys and major in nursing, while Jose Pichardo will attend fire college in Ocala. Each will receive $2,000 from the Gerald “Moe” and Marina Mosher Vocational Scholarship fund, named in honor of the late Moe Mosher, a founding partner of Historic Tours of America.
In addition, the Chamber will award $1,000 scholarships to Leislany Garcia-Montero and Roosevelt Joseph, winners of the William Appelrouth Scholarship. Named in honor of the late, three-time president of the Key West Chamber of Commerce, the Appelrouth awards are made each year to one male and one female member of the Key West High School senior class who display a record of outstanding community service.