1. The Education Gradebook

Brandon High School: Tribune scholars profiles and essays

An invitation was extended to the top 3 percent of Hillsborough’s graduating seniors to take part in the annual competition.

More than 200 of Hillsborough County’s top high school seniors from 35 public and private schools accepted an invitation to share their accomplishments and take part in an essay contest through the 2020 R.F. “Red” Pittman Tribune Scholars program. Their profiles and essays are published here, just as the students submitted them. To search all schools, click here.

Catherine Harman

Catherine Harman [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. DECA- First place at Districts

2. Academy of Finance completer

3. Salutatorian of Senior class

4. Colorguard- Participant, soloist and equipment management

5. Internship at Suncoast Credit Union

College or other post-high school plans: The University of South Florida for a bachelor’s in management

Tribune Scholars Essay

As climate changes threaten to raise the sea level around the world, Florida faces coastal implications which could change the entire community. The answer to this coastal problem is not to retreat in surrender to the rising waters, but to use what students have been learning in the classroom. If students understood that math and science are powerful tools, they would be better equipped to engineer solutions to these problems. I believe that engineers and scientists can solve the problems associated with the rising sea level.

The field of civil engineering is very diverse and can help solve these problems. Geotechnical engineers can provide recommendations for deeper foundations to avoid tidal scour. Structural engineers can build structures that are elevated and allow for rising waters to pass under the buildings. Transportation engineers can take the sea level into account when they rebuild roadways. Civil engineers in Miami are already working to raise the roads as they plan for the future. Water resource engineers can use government funding to update their systems for the new stormwater demands.

My parents are part of the engineering community that is aware of these issues and they continue to make our world a safer and better place for us to live. I may not become an engineer, but I believe that we can solve our problems by facing them, not by retreating. Whether it is coastal intrusion or a virus pandemic, we can overcome these challenges with knowledge, and it starts with a good education.

Gabrielle Kruse

Gabrielle Kruse [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. I earned my Child Development Associate (CDA) certification a year earlier than planned in my high school’s preschool program.

2. Maintained an unweighted 4.0 GPA all throughout high school with honors, AP courses, and dual enrollment while working a part-time job at the YMCA.

3. I am a member of the National Honor Society and Key Club, earning over 120 hours while volunteering at multiple schools, Relay for Life, and small organizations such as the Pet Resource Center.

4. I participated in Mu Alpha Theta for two years and went to math competitions at USF with my school.

5. I earned certifications for Certified Internet Web Professional (CIW) and Microsoft PowerPoint.

6. I earned nine credit hours through dual enrollment in courses English 1101, English 1102, and College Algebra.

College or other post-high school plans: I am attending Florida Gulf Coast University with interests in pursuing psychology or social work. My major at is currently undecided but my goal going into college is to find a career centered around helping people, making a difference, and improving the quality of life for those around me. I want to help children and families especially

Tribune Scholars Essay

I propose that communities along the Florida coast armor their shores against the rising waters. An option for protecting the coastline is rock revetment. This involves placing huge granite stones along shorelines to help absorb the strength of the waves, therefore reducing the threat of heavy erosion. A successful example occurred in the 1960’s, St. Simon's Island, Georgia was hit by Hurricane Dora which devastated their shores. President Lyndon Johnson had surveyed the damage and used federal relief funding to, “…[install] thousands of granite rocks along the beachfront to stymie the erosion.”1 As beaches are Florida’s trademark for tourists and many locals, it is important to keep our beaches pristine. Rock revetment is a reliable option in making shorelines stronger against currents and offers a more attractive option compared to other revetments, such as concrete slabs. The cost of this project should be split between the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the counties most affected. Crowd funding is also an option for counties to pay for rock revetment as residents in the area may want to contribute as it directly affects their life. The money invested into beach revetment will be returned over time as the money generated from beach tourists is steady. However, if government officials want to buy flood-prone areas they should present all the information available, showing risks and preventative measures, to property owners before making an offer. Ultimately, it should be up to the residents and should not be required to sell their land.

Katie Lamas

Katie Lamas [ COMPUTER - APPSRV01 : USER - APPSRV01 : VERS 2.10.35 | handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Student Government – Vice President

2. National Honor Society

3. Spanish Honor Society- President

4. Early Childhood Program- CDA completer

5. About 15 hours of community service making pb and js for the homeless

6. Over 40 hours of community service in student government, doing things for the school and outside of school (like relay for life, reunions, working at football games)

College or other post-high school plans: I plan on attending Hillsborough Community College for 2 years and then transferring to a university in Florida for another 2 years to receive my bachelor’s degree. In addition, I plan on going into a business major.

Tribune Scholars Essay

Yes, communities in Florida should prepare against the changing climate by armoring their shore against rising waters and retreating from parts of the coast. I believe communities should do both because it would reduce the risk of more damage being done to properties in flood-prone areas. The money to pay for the work should come from disaster relief agencies or from the state government. Yes, the government should buy out property owners in flood-prone areas because it would lessen the amount of money that the state would have to use to rebuild properties or homes if a flood were to happen. In addition, communities would be safer if they lived in areas where they weren’t susceptible to floods.

Roma Parmar

Roma Parmar [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

  • Club officer of DECA (a high school organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in business administration, marketing, finance, and hospitality/tourism), DECA district awards winner for 3 years (10th grade: 1st place - Principles of Marketing, 11th grade: 2nd place - Marketing Management Team Decision Making, 12th grade: 1st place – Automotive Services Marketing.
  • 6.27 GPA (weighted), 3.79 (unweighted)
  • Microsoft Office Specialist (certification in Microsoft Word, Power-point, and Outlook), Certified Internet Web Professional (certification)
  • AVID student since the 7th grade
  • Community service at school for DECA, at ECHO of Brandon (Emergency Care Help Organization)
  • Marketing Assistant Manager of Suncoast Student-Run Branch at Brandon HS

College or other post-high school plans: Attend the University of South Florida to attain my Bachelor’s in Finance and MBA at the Muma College of Business.

Tribune Scholars Essay

As Florida faces a future with a changing climate, communities should armor their shores against rising waters. According to NOAA’s National Ocean Service, “’Armoring’ is the practice of using physical structures to protect shorelines from coastal erosion”. Since the climate is changing so drastically, there’s a great potential for coastal erosion to occur, and as residents, it is our priority to make sure that our state is both a safe place, and a beautiful place.

This work should be paid ultimately by the government, and whether they choose to take that money out as a tax, or not, is their decision. As a Floridian, I wouldn’t mind the government taking a little more money out of my income as an “environmental-friendly tax”. While some individuals might find it to be unnecessary, I think it’ll serve a great purpose in preserving the natural beauty of our sunshine state.

Governments should definitely buy out property owners in flood-prone areas. It would be a huge relief for individuals that are unsure about their next step. The Blue Acres program, ran in New Jersey, seems like a great opportunity for homeowners to sell their homes, especially when they are having to suffer through repeated flooding. According to, “Funded via a combination of federal, state, and local grants, the Blue Acres program established a protocol for purchasing homes from willing sellers in communities subject to repeated flooding. Once purchased by the municipality, the homes are demolished and the property is designated as open space.”