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Newsome 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.
After-school practice stretches into sundown at Newsome High School in Lithia. The school opened in 2003.
After-school practice stretches into sundown at Newsome High School in Lithia. The school opened in 2003. [ Times (2016) ]
Published May 19, 2020
Updated May 20, 2020

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.

Alex Dyer

Alex Dyer
Alex Dyer [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Volunteer and Researcher at Veterans’ Memorial Park and Museum (Involved in the research and cataloging of personal artifacts from Hillsborough veterans to create an exhibit for World War II)

2. Science National Honor Society (President)

3. Robotics (President, Founding Officer, Aided in raising over $10,000 of equipment)

4. National Speech and Debate Association (Degree of Distinction)

5. Key Club (Founding Officer, Secretary)

6. U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad Finalist

College or other post-high school plans: Harvard University major in Chemical Engineering and minor in Economics in a pre-med track

Tribune Scholars Essay

In the face (or waves) of rising waters, Florida communities ought to prioritize protecting the coastline with funding derived from property taxes. In the community-scale dichotomy of fight or flight, protecting the shoreline is the more feasible and just option.

In rebuking Neptune, there is precedent in both engineering and ecology. The former is evident in the Dutch, whose use of levies, channels, and dykes have held back the North Sea. Ecologically, the use of restoration projects, such as marshlands, enables combating rising sea levels as well as community protection against other natural disasters, such as storm surges during hurricanes. Additionally, the proactive measures to preserve the shoreline location protect endemic Florida flora and fauna. In comparison, retreat would require both the abandonment and reconstruction of housing and critical infrastructure further inland. By limiting the spread of the sea, communities would save money in the long-term by not continuously rebuilding further inland.

Beyond greater practicality, armoring the shoreline is just; by mitigating relocation, at-risk members of communities are better protected. While a community policy focused on relocation would encumber all members of the community, a pronounced burden is placed on vulnerable populations, such as low-income groups. In areas where relocation is unavoidable, the community should purchase property in flood-prone areas in order to distribute the cost of the crisis.

Funding ought to be derived from a property tax. A property tax is enforceable with preexisting tax mechanisms and distributes the price of coastline infrastructure proportionally among the community.

Alexander Huynh

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Volunteer at Tampa General Hospital

2. President of Mu Alpha Theta (Math Honor Society) at Newsome High School

3. Volunteer at Seeds of Hope Food Bank

4. Officer positions in other clubs

5. STEM Club Competitions

6. Math Bowl Competitions

College or other post-high school plans: Attend the University of Florida and Major in Engineering

Athanasios C. Owens

Athanasios C. Owens
Athanasios C. Owens [ handout ]

School Activities and Accomplishments:

1. National Honors Society

2. Secretary, Spanish Honors Society

3. Varsity Track & Field

4. Secretary/Treasurer, Sons of Pericles

5. AP Scholar

College plans: University of Florida, Major in Engineering

Tribune Scholars Essay

Natural systems change over time and space, as do we as humans. Anthropogenic actions throughout the last one hundred years have led to great concern over what is known as climate change. This has impacted Florida in many distinct ways, but most disturbing of all are the rising sea levels, which have been growing exponentially in past years. The most common approach taken today is building hard infrastructure/walls. However, these barriers cut down biodiversity and threaten coastal habitats, along with expensive costs and poor durability. The best solution for rising waters as Florida faces a future with a changing climate are green solutions.

Horizontal levees and living shorelines seem very promising in accomplishing what barriers have but without the negatives. Living shorelines, like an oyster reef for example, protect land behind them from erosion by reducing the wave energy and at the same time allowing sediment to be trapped behind it and grow vegetation. This makes up for the vanished shoreline as well as enables life to exist, shaping habitats. In addition, Florida is known to face many hurricanes so it’s important that whatever is set in place can take the inherent punishment. These natural reefs have been reported to take hurricanes a lot better than hardened ones, all the while costing a lot less. Financing would be handled as sea walls are handled right now, with private property owners paying for their shoreline and a combination of federal, state and local government funding for public lands.

Caroline Enoch

Caroline Enoch
Caroline Enoch [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Varsity Cheerleading for 4 years

2. Positive Coaching Alliance member

3. French National Honor Society Historian

4. Tampa Bay History Center Teen Council

5. Class of 2020 Student Council

6. National English Honor Society

College or other post high school plans: I will be attending the University of Florida majoring in Political Science.

Gina Gamboa

Gina Gamboa
Gina Gamboa [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Brandon Foundation Junior Angels (volunteer organization)

2. Newsome High School Girls Cross Country Team

3. Member of National English Honor Society

4. Member of National English Honor Society

5. Seeds of Hope (volunteer)

6. Treasurer of Spanish National Honor Society

College or other post-high school plans:

I will be attending Florida State University in June 2020. I will be pursuing a degree in Marketing.

Tribune Scholars Essay

As Floridians we can agree that Florida has the best beaches in the country, and living so close to the ocean can cause rising water level concerns. According to, every three years the sea level will rise by about one inch. This statistic can cause fear of what is in store for the future of Florida, but we also need to educate ourselves and be prepared. In a 2019 online article on, tides and current graphs show that since 1913 St. Petersburg’s coast experienced an increase in rising waters of 0.94 feet in 103 years. While it is important to have concerns of climate change and specifically rising waters, it is not necessary to retreat from the coast when we have experienced an average of less of a foot in rising sea levels the past 100 years statewide. Retreating from the coast does not only not address the issue of rising waters, but will add unnecessary stress to the inland communities due to over population. Nevertheless, we have to diligently work with our government agencies and experts who can provide timely guidance on what is best for Florida’s communities. This is a State wide concern and therefore should be part of Florida’s annual budget. State funds (which is tax payer money) should be allocated judiciously to those areas on the coast with higher rising sea level indicators. thinking about the precautions Floridians need to take. As Florida faces a future with a changing climate, communities armor their shores against both rising water and retreat from parts of the coast.

Grace Freeman

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Vice President of Student Government

2. Involved in student council all 4 years

3. Junior and senior captain of lacrosse

4. Academic All-American and All-American for lacrosse

5. Helping Others Today club

6. Meals on Wheels since 6th grade

College or other post-high school plans:

Attend the University of Florida in the honors program to pursue a degree in chemical engineering.

Tribune Scholars Essay

Answer these questions (no more than 250 words): As Florida faces a future with a changing climate, should communities armor their shores against rising waters, retreat from parts of the coast, or both? Who should pay for the work? Should the government buy out property owners in flood-prone areas?

As Florida faces a future with a changing climate, the communities should armor their shores against rising water and retreat from parts of the coast. Armoring the shores is an important measure to take to protect the coast, but these measures haven’t been in place long enough to know if they will work in the long run. As an extra precautionary measure, people should start retreating from the shore. When it comes to who should pay for the work and the property in flood-prone areas, there needs to be a balance. When property owners choose to get a place on the beach, they know the risks associated with this purchase. They know that when you live on the coast you risk the chance of floods and rising waters. However, all of the burden should not fall on them. When you choose to buy a place in Kansas, you know the risk of tornadoes, but this does not mean that when your house gets destroyed because of a natural disaster, you do not deserve help. Everyone takes a risk when they purchase property, but that does not mean they should have to deal with everything that happens to the property, especially when it is out of their control. They cannot control the rising sea waters, and the government should help them deal with the cost of solving the problems climate change presents. How much the government should help, I don’t know, but I think it is important to find a balance.

Jessica McMillan

Jessica McMillan
Jessica McMillan [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

  1. A Kids Place of Tampa Bay, a non-profit home for abused, neglected and abandoned children. 2019 Summer Camp Leader. Dedicated 102 hours over the summer with direct volunteer support for foster children aged 3 to 11 in various one-on-one and group activities.
  2. National English Honor Society ('19) - 2019/2020 Club President. Membership and leadership in other school clubs including: National Honor Society ('18, '19); Rho Kappa Honor Society ('18, '19); Spanish National Honor Society ('17); Future Business Leader of America ('16, '17).
  3. 710 hours of documented community service during high school. Recognition includes: 2019 Carson Scholar Award for academic excellence and dedication to serving the community. 2019 Anne Frank Humanitarian Award for outstanding humanitarian efforts. 2016 & 2017 President's Volunteer Service Award. 2016 Prudential Spirit of Community Award.
  4. Seeds of Hope, Inc. a non-profit organization that provides food distribution for those in need in the local community. 2017 Teen Leader at Food Bank. Committed volunteer support to the organization 2015 – 2018. Led student weekly volunteer efforts to collect, coordinate and distribute food at the local food pantry, and interacted with families to determine specific needs.
  5. Mentor and Tutor Program, provided through Randall Middle School and Lithia Pinecrest Elementary (2018). After-School Mentor and Tutor, providing real-time one-on-one support to Middle and Elementary School students to assist in their educational development.
  6. Feeding America Tampa Bay, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides food for those in need in Tampa Bay area. Dedicated summer volunteer 2015 – 2019. Supported warehouse sorting and distributing of non-perishables to impoverished families and supported the mobile food pantry.

College or other post-high school plans:

After high school I am attending UCF, with my intended major being Forensic Science (Chemistry Track). With this I plan to pursue a career in criminal or crime scene investigation, ideally with a government agency: CIA, FBI, CSI, etc. My goal is to help others in a way not many can, to help in solving a mystery or bringing justice for those who could not by their own merit.

Tribune Scholars Essay

With the changing climate and rising water levels, Florida is negatively impacted with many communities being close to the ever-shrinking shore. I believe that communities in danger of flooding from climate change should both retreat from the coast and armor shores to protect from the rising waters. I believe the duty of paying falls back on our government. However, the government should not buy out property owners in flood-prone areas as it takes the choice away from the people. Often when the government buys out property, they do not pay the full value of the property causing the property owner to lose money they purchased the house with and the loss of the physical asset that was their house. Miami is a prime example of a place in Florida already undergoing measures to combat the rising water; Miami armors their shores by restoring wetlands, installing pumps, and other measures but at the same time they are raising or moving roads and buildings. The mayor of Miami is working with many people, including engineers, to combat the problem and do right by his constituents. One way he received money to finance such projects was a $400 million bond deal. The government is here to help the people, and I think they should do so by helping to reduce the flooding by the cutting down of environmentally damaging practices leading to this climate change and by showing the people they care rather than just telling them to leave.

Jonathan Kanarek

School Activities and Accomplishments:

1) Color Run Race head/organizer (I was in charge of the race including prep, setup, race day, everything)

2) Performed in the Macy’s Day Parade

3) Competed for the Newsome Cross Country, Track, and Tennis team (Cross Country & Tennis Captain my senior year)

4) Clubs: NHS, Seeds of Hope, Student Council (Sophomore, Junior, and Senior year), SGA Member (Junior and Senior year), FBLA, Spanish National Honor Society, Rho Kappa, Mu Alpha Theta, Green Club

5) On Campus Activity Head for SGA (Planned all activities that took place on campus through SGA my senior year)

6) Set up and helped run a food/supply bank for the week school was closed during hurricane Irma

College Plans: Attend the University of Florida with a major in Chemical Engineering

Tribune Scholars Essay

It is inevitable that the rising waters will eventually reach the houses that line the Florida coast. I believe that the most effective way for people to remain safe is to set a building limit on new houses that requires them to be a certain distance above the ground while they are being built. This would give them a cushion between the rising tide and their house, and allow them to live safely.. People that live at too low of an elevation may have to evacuate to a safer living area. I believe that if people are in no danger of flooding then they should have to pay for their own work on their house, as they can take out loans from the bank and do not have to act immediately on the matter. People that are in high risk areas may not be able to afford the work to be done to bunker their house, and might need assistance from the government or others to be able to live safely. The government should buy out property owners on a case by case basis, as they cannot buy out everyone who lives on the coast around Florida as that would simply be too much money.

Kayla Lucas

Kayla Lucas
Kayla Lucas [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. West Point Excellence in High School Leadership Award

2. JROTC Raider Commander (Varsity) (captain of both male & mixed teams)

3. JROTC Cadet of the Year

4. United States Army Cadet Command Academic Excellence Award

5. AP Scholar with Distinction

6. 192 documented community service hours

College or other post-high school plans: attend the University of Florida or Vanderbilt University

Additional information for judges (will not be made public). This may include family, health, financial or other personal information (no more than 250 words).:

Tribune Scholars Essay

Communities should retreat from parts of the coast that are most vulnerable to rising waters, as Louisiana's Isle de Jean Charles did in 2016, because of the danger to residents and the high cost of rebuilding. However, communities in other, less vulnerable areas should armor their shores by creating living shorelines either alone or in combination with hard structures such as low sills to sop up water, limit erosion and absorb wave energy.

The government should consider soliciting grants and forming partnerships with companies and organizations to protect the coastline. An increase in taxes on coastal hotels and tourist industries also should be considered, as they are the ones who benefit the most from protecting Florida's beaches and preserving a healthy tourist economy. The National Flood Insurance Program should consider mandating an increase in flood insurance costs to encourage homeowners to relocate to less flood-prone areas and discourage further growth. Fortunately, living shorelines tend to cost less to build, can be built with volunteers, and require far less maintenance over time.

The government should consider buying out property owners using eminent domain type policies, like those currently being advocated for by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in areas that are the most vulnerable to flooding. Although it may be difficult to ask people to leave their homes, it is for their safety as well as for the greater good, as others will be protected by the defenses that could be constructed on these most vulnerable properties.

Margret Jones

School activities and accomplishments:

  1. I have been a Girl Scout since kindergarten, participating in various community service activities throughout the years. Most recently my troop organized a collection drive for a Tampa women’s shelter, participated in a neighborhood cleanup and taught the younger girls about the value of diversity in an encampment camping trip. I have earned my Silver Award in Girl Scouts.
  2. I have participated in track for 3 years as a jumper. I made it to regionals both in 2018 and 2019, I was hoping to do so again this year before Coronavirus. I loved being on the team, it was such a supportive environment. Everyone had a goal and was actively working to crush it, while the rest of the team cheered them on. Being on the team taught me how to draw inspiration from others without being jealous, as young girls are often pushed to do. While I’m sad my season had to end so soon, I am glad I have gotten the experience and I have gained much more than just the physical benefits.
  3. As an AVID club member, I have worked to support my classmates academically and helped them work towards their goals. I pride myself on the role I’ve played in motivating and inspiring our underclassmen to challenge themselves as well as supporting them in their academic pursuits. Through AVID club I have had the opportunity to welcome incoming freshmen to my school and help prepare them for high school the best I can.

College or other post-high school plans: I will be attending USF to study engineering.

Tribune Scholars Essay

With the current global pandemic, there are a lot of comparisons to apocalyptic scenarios. It is like the earth is turning on the people. With Florida being nearly completely surrounded by the ocean, the rising sea levels cause significant concern for its residents. In order to save ourselves from drowning, we need to fight fire with fire, or in this case, nature with nature. Protecting our coasts by expanding our beaches and reestablishing the natural infrastructure should become one of our top priorities. Before people came to develop Florida, building cities on the coasts, the natural environment prevented the seawater from flooding inland. If we can restore our natural coastal ecosystems, we will be better protected from the rising sea levels. Some of our communities may need to relocate to make room for this change, but it is necessary that they do so to ensure the longevity of our coasts. The majority of Florida’s major cities are on or very close to the ocean and in order to protect them and our economy these changes are a must. While the flooding may only occur in the cities along the coast, it is the responsibility of the entire state to help support the efforts to strengthen our coasts.

Nicholas Santiago

Nicholas Santiago
Nicholas Santiago [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Vice president of Mu Alpha Theta

2. Treasurer of 1Voice

3. National Honor Society Member

4. Granted Patent

College or other post-high school plans: Attending UF in the fall

Payton Carter

Payton Carter
Payton Carter [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Newsome High School 2019-2020 Student Athlete of the year

2. Newsome High School Algebra 2 student of the year 2017-2018

3. Newsome Varsity Cheerleading (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior year)

4. Class of 2020 Student Council (Senior Treasurer) (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior year)

5. Newsome High School Track Team

College or other post-high school plans: Attend the University of Florida in the fall of 2020

Tribune Scholars Essay

As the water level of the ocean rises in certain parts of Florida, I believe the best option for the residents of these areas is to retreat from flood prone areas. If residents attempt to armor against their shores, it could be a temporary fix to the problem of rising water. Armoring the shores could work for a few years but is not sustainable because the water is constantly rising and is not going down anytime soon. Spending money to protect against the flooding would be a waste of money, which is why home owners should retreat from these areas.

I believe it would be best for the government to buy out property owners in flood prone areas in order to repay property owners and ensure that nothing else gets built on these flood-prone areas,. Flood prone areas are not a safe place for anyone to live. If the government were to buy out these areas it would allow the current home owners there to be able to have money to buy a sufficient house in a safer area. It would also prevent others from buying these properties and living there.

Ryan Carson

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Vice President of Mu Alpha Theta

2. Treasurer of National English Honor Society

3. Historian of Green Club

4. Keep Our Campus Clean

5. Bridge Building

College or other post-high school plans: Florida State University, Double-Majoring in International Affairs and Political Science

Samantha Simpson

Samantha Simpson
Samantha Simpson [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

Varsity Soccer, Varsity Tennis, National Honors Society (NHS), Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), FBLA Chapter President, FBLA District 9 Vice President of Community Service

College Plans: To attend the University of Florida

Sylvia Murphy

Sylvia Murphy
Sylvia Murphy [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1) Integrated Mathematical Oncology Intern at Moffitt Cancer Center, June- August 2019

· Researching in the Enderling Lab at Moffitt Cancer Center, I used mathematical modeling in MATLAB to research the ability of models to predict patient-specific Prostate-Specific Antigen dynamics. This research would allow for a more personalized therapy for patients with prostate cancer in order to improve treatment methods for cancer patients through the integration of math into the field of oncology.

· Authored a paper for publication that is currently under revision: Comparing Methods to Predict Patient-Specific PSA Dynamics in Prostate Cancer Patients.

· Dr. Richard O. Jacobson Scholar—awarded for achievements in oncology research

2) Florida Sunshine State Scholar, selected as Hillsborough County’s representative in 2019 Awards Conference

· Participated in State Scholar “Think Tank”, addressing Florida’s energy workforce challenges

· Awarded for academic and leadership excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)

3) Dr. Sylvia Richardson Young Woman of Promise Award (from the Athena Society)

· Awarded to young women with outstanding leadership, academic achievements, community service, and athletics

4) Community Service (100+ Bright Futures Hours, 400+ Church-related hours)

· San Jose Mission (Mentor) –summer camp for migrant children (9th-11th grade)

· Usher at Church (Occasionally Lead Usher)—conduct the flow of Church service and assist the congregation (9th-12th grade)

· Confirmation Youth Group (Class Leader)—teaching religious education to middle school students (11th grade)

· Mu Alpha Theta (Math Tutor) –tutoring AP Calculus BC and below, all grade levels (9th-12th grade)

· 1Voice Pediatric Cancer Foundation(volunteer) --various fundraisers, events, tutoring for children with pediatric cancer (12th grade)

· Randall Middle School Youth Orchestra (Mentor)—mentoring young musicians, specifically violin (11th grade)

· Linus Blanket Project (volunteer) –making blankets for hospitalized children (10th-12th grade)

· Trick-or-Treat-Street (STEM Club)—creating a safe environment for children to trick-or-treat (9th-12th grade)

· Church Lector—reading to the congregation at Church (9th-12th grade)

5) Newsome High School Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Club (Current President, Vice President—11th grade, Secretary—10th grade)

· Vex Robotics (9th grade)

· Hillsborough County Trebuchet Competition (10th-11th grade, 2nd place)

· Science Olympiad (9th-12th grade, various regional and state awards each year)

· Science Bowl (9th-12th grade, 9th grade—1st "Place Problem Solving")

· Quiz Bowl (11th grade, Team Captain 12th grade)

· Elk’s Lodge Volunteer (10th-11th grade)

· Trick or Treat Street Community Event (9th-12th grade)

· Science National Honor Society Vice President (12th grade)

· National Congressional App Challenge (12th grade—2nd place winner)

6) Newsome High School Orchestra (9th-12th grade)

· Chamber Orchestra (10th-12th grade)

· Solo and Ensemble (9th-12th grade, “Superior” Award—11th and 12th grade)

· Twin Lakes Winter Celebration Performance (10th-11th grade)

· Musician Performance Assessment (9th-12th grade)

· Carnegie Hall Orchestra (11th grade, Second Violin Section Leader)

· Graduation Orchestra (9th-11th grade)

College or other post-high school plans:

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to attend either the University of Notre Dame, or the University of Florida Honors Program. My passion for science and math, as well as improving the lives of those around me, have driven me to decide to major in Microbiology, with a potential double major in Computer Science. After obtaining my bachelor’s degree, I plan to apply and enroll in Medical School, where I can get my M.D., and perhaps participate in a combined M.D PhD program so that I can treat patients on the front lines, but also have the opportunity to research and work toward developing long-term solutions for cancer and other diseases.

Tribune Scholars Essay

In a state known for its vast beaches and warm climate, ironically, the stability of Florida’s economic and environmental stability is in jeopardy. Threatened by climate change and rising ocean waters invading the coastal landscape, the solution to Florida’s potential coastal demise is evident.

Retreating from the coast is the only viable option; it is not efficient nor practical. Barricading the shores are a costly, temporary solution that would eventually become obsolete. Rather, it is advisable that landowners should begin to retreat from the coast by halting coastal development and protect the current structures with new building codes that account for the rising tide.

It’s the landowners’ responsibility to brace themselves for the onslaught of rising waters. While it is an unfortunate situation, the government cannot be responsible for monetarily rescuing every coastal property. If the government did buy out property owners in flood-prone areas, then the line between property-owner responsibility and government support would become obscured. There is an inherent risk in purchasing any property in Florida—whether it be sinkholes, hurricanes, flooding, or some other aspect of nature—and the government simply cannot be responsible compensating for those risks every time Mother Nature threatens property. Instead, the government money that would be spent to armor shores or buy out property should go into proactive measures such as forestation, development of eco-friendly technologies, and environmental education programs. By concentrating on proactive measures instead temporary solutions, Florida’s coast and environment would be more sustainable for future generations.