High School Seniors Share Their "Student Voice,” Receive Scholarships at TASB Governance Camp
Austin— Five high school seniors from around Texas were selected to receive Student Voice Scholarships during the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) Governance Camp in Galveston on March 3. Each student will receive $1,500 from sponsor Walsh Gallegos Trevino Kyle & Robinson P.C.
“The Student Voice Scholarship celebrates some of our most outstanding public school students and allows them to share their personal stories,” TASB Executive Director Dan Troxell said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for these young people to express the role public education has played in their lives.”
He noted that the response to the scholarship was outstanding, with more than 100 applications received. “All the students who submitted applications should be commended for their outstanding efforts, which made the final selection process even more challenging,” Troxell said. The winning scholarship recipients were chosen based on their individual stories, contributions to their community, and their use of “student voice” to improve their schools.
During the Student Voice Scholarship Panel, each winner will share their unique public school journey and experience. The discussion takes place at the first general session of Governance Camp on March 3. This panel is one of the highlights of Governance Camp, offering school board trustees an opportunity to hear directly from Texas public school students.
Paula Maddox Roalson, the moderator of the Student Voice Scholarship Panel and an attorney at Walsh Gallegos, says the event is empowering for students and enlightening for adults.
“When we listen to these students share their stories and experiences what continues to resonate is how collectively we have much more in common than we often realize,” Roalson said. “I am proud to be a part of this project and I am proud that our law firm is able to partner with TASB to spotlight student voices because, to me, I believe this is one of the most important things that we do.”
The winners of this year’s scholarship are:
- Brady Burlison, Thrall ISD, Region 13: Burlison learned at an early age what it means to be responsible for others, often having to care for his three younger siblings. He has overcome many obstacles and though he never imagined college would be part of his future, now Burlison is a scholar, four-sport athlete, and an active member of the student council. After graduation, he hopes to play college football.
- Wyatt Grubbs, Sunnyvale ISD, Region 10: Growing up in a family of educators, Grubbs saw the positive impact the PTA made on school communities, empowering him to be of service at his high school where he organized “Hello Day” to help students feel a sense of belonging. He has participated in many activities, taking on student leadership roles, and performing in his school’s theater company, but Grubbs’ lifelong dream is to be a commercial airline pilot, a goal he will pursue while studying aviation at the University of Oklahoma.
- Joel Rowlett, DeSoto ISD, Region 10: Rowlett credits football for his “implacable work ethic and unwavering discipline,” but his faith, family, and love of Japanese anime and culture have also been important drivers in his life. While students today may have many outlets to share their voices, Rowlett says there is a lot of “noise” to cut through and many young people feel invisible, which is why he believes schools should be responsive to students’ needs, offering supports so they can learn to navigate life’s challenges.
- Nitya Kodali, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Region 4: The daughter of Indian immigrants, Kodali was crowned Miss Teen Telugu Universe in 2020 and has since used her platform to empower other Telugu-speaking women. During the pandemic, Kodali founded the nonprofit Letters & Love to spread love and positivity around the world. Kodali will study public health at the University of Texas at Austin and plans to become a physician.
- Lynlee Dimitry, Kirbyville CISD, Region 5: Dimitry was 3 years old when she was diagnosed with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that leads to hair loss. Feeling different from others growing up, she struggled with depression and now, she believes all students could benefit from classes or clubs that provide insight and understanding related to mental health awareness. When “The Voice” Season 22 contestant Bodie Kuljian, who also has alopecia, reached out to her during the show’s fan week, Dimitry was given a national platform to talk about Alopecia and her experience.
TASB’s Governance Camp will take place March 1-4. Learn more about the conference and register.
TASB is a nonprofit organization established in 1949 to serve local Texas school boards. School board members are the largest group of publicly elected officials in the state. The districts they represent serve more than 5.4 million public school students.