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Robinson 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.

Brooke Rodriguez

Brooke Rodriguez
Brooke Rodriguez [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

1. I am the founder and CEO of Calculating for Success, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to raising funds for STEM classroom technology for Tampa area high schools. Through my time tutoring other students in math at Robinson High School, I realized that many of my classmates did not have access to graphing calculators, a tool that is vital to success in both STEM classes and standardized tests. I wanted to do as much as I could to help these students succeed in these classes and tests, so I founded this nonprofit organization in order to help as many students as possible. My initial focus is helping Robinson High School, so that all students, regardless of their socioeconomic background, have access to graphing calculators for use in higher level STEM classes and standardized tests. My long-term goal is to continue this initiative throughout other high schools in Hillsborough County.

2. Mu Alpha Theta at Robinson High School: I have been an active member of this organization during all four years of my time at Robinson High School. I have led as both the Precalculus and Calculus team captains. Additionally, I have placed during the annual Hillsborough County Math Bowls, including this past fall, where I received both an individual award, as well as a third-place team award in the Calculus Division. I have also served as a math tutor for the past four years, dedicating my time during study hall and after school to helping other students better understand math concepts with which they are struggling.

3. Science Honor Society at Robinson High School: I have been an active member of this organization starting my sophomore year of high school. I served as secretary during my junior year and led as president of this organization during my senior year. During my time as an officer in the Science Honor Society, I increased efforts in recruiting new members. We went from having around 40 students to having 70 my first year as an officer, and close to 100 my second year. My efforts of increasing interest and broadcasting the club has led it to almost triple in size, and many more students have joined and grown to love science. I was also a member of the three person Balancing Chemical Equations team, which came in First Place at the 2019 Hillsborough County Fall Science Bowl.

4. National Honor Society at Robinson High School: I was inducted into NHS during my sophomore year of high school. At my induction ceremony, I was inducted as the Excalibur Leader, an honor given to the inductee with the highest GPA among all of the inductees. During my senior year, I am serving as the Secretary of NHS. During the past three years, I participated in many community service activities through NHS, such as community food and book drives, school supply drives, domestic violence awareness events, and school outreach programs.

5. Hillsborough Regional STEM Fair: This past January, I was selected as a participant in the Hillsborough Regional STEM Fair. My project was titled Exploring the Impact of the Great Barrier Reef Bleaching on Tourism Rates in Australia. I placed third in the Senior Mathematics and Computational Science Division. Additionally, I received the Stockholm Junior Water Prize Award of Excellence for a Water-Related Science Research Project.

6. Rho Kappa Honor Society: I have been a member of Rho Kappa since my junior year of high school. During my junior year, I served as Vice-President, and this year, I am leading as President of this school-wide club. In addition to being an honor society, we are committed to serving the greater community. Last year, we held a food drive, with all donations going directly to Metropolitan Ministries. This year, we were planning a book drive, which was to begin immediately after Spring Break. Unfortunately, due to school closures because of Covid-19, the book drive was not started as originally scheduled.

College or other post-high school plans: I plan on attending the University of Notre Dame as a mathematics major.

Tribune Scholars Essay

Many countries around the world have experienced rapid industrialization in the past few centuries. This industrialization directly correlates to increased fossil fuel usage, which releases harmful gases and particulate matter into the atmosphere. Higher levels of gases have magnified the greenhouse effect, leading to more heat being trapped to the Earth’s surface. With this heat, glaciers have melted and caused rising shores which directly impacts the state of Florida. Florida should switch to the use of renewable power sources, such as tidal, hydro, or wind power. Renewable energy also results in saving money in the long term. This saved money could be devoted to buying out properties located along coastlines and flood-prone areas, as the government is best suited with managing rising sea levels. Florida is not well structured or prepared for these rising waters, as the material making up the state is very porous. The state also rests at a low sea level, so rising seas could potentially result in the full coverage of the state, ultimately submerging it. This seems unfathomable, but it is a very real consequence and one that our federal and state government should take seriously. In order to prevent drastic damage from rising sea levels, communities should build sea walls, barrier islands, and levees. Traditional structures that protect against rising waters during hurricanes will help with rising sea levels. However, these are temporary protective measures. In order to have a permanent effect, change needs to be encouraged on both a community and statewide level.

Esha Babu

Esha Babu
Esha Babu [ handout ]

School activities and accomplishments:

  1. Co-Founder and Co-President of Emkidz, Inc., a nonprofit organization with the aim of empowering children around the world. Fundraising occurs through international music and dance shows. Previous projects include building a computer lab in an Indian orphanage and donating hurricane preparedness packs to a girl’s home in Puerto Rico. More information is found at www.emkidz.org.
  2. Mu Alpha Theta Math Honors Society President. Previous roles include Treasurer, Secretary, and Historian. Received multiple awards for both team and individual high scores at Math Competitions. Successfully raised money for the States competition (cancelled due to COVID-19).
  3. Indian Classical Dance Captain. Member of the team for about 11 years and performed at various events at the Hindu Temple Hall and Florida State Fairgrounds for India Festival. Also performed at the International Indian Film Academy Awards at Raymond James in 2014 and NBA Magic vs. Heat game in 2020.
  4. Salutatorian of the Class of 2020 in the International Baccalaureate program.
  5. Robinson High School Chamber Orchestra Manager. Also received Straight Superior scores at the Music Performance Assessment with the Chamber Orchestra in 2020 and 2018 and overall superior scores in 2019.
  6. Created and donated “Boxes of Hope” containing hygiene items for teenage girls to Eckerd Connects Raising Hope. These boxes were made with the intention that they would help the girls in the foster care system adapt to their changing situations.

College or other post-high school plans: I will be attending Emory University in the fall of 2020 with the intended major of Environmental Engineering.

Tribune Scholars Essay

Recently, Florida has witnessed many drastic changes, such as ruined architecture, increasingly uninhabitable waters, and dangerous living situations during hurricane season. All of these effects have a common origin: climate change. Many coastal communities expect to face further disruptive flooding within 30 years. According to analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists, homeowners are estimated to face around $1 trillion total in property damage. Rhonda Haag, the sustainability director of the Florida Keys, released the calculations to the cost it would take to protect against expected flooding levels in 2060. For only about two dozen homes, raising three miles of road to protect them until 2025 would cost $75 million, and until 2060 the cost would increase to $181 million. Clearly, this cost would increase even further to protect all of the communities at risk. Even Haag stated that some places can’t be protected at a price that taxpayers can be expected to pay. Potentially, if changes are implemented soon, homes could be protected in the short run; however, this still does not remove the source of the damage. In the long run, it is not sustainable to continue blockading shores. If the government must spend money, it should instead be spent on renewable resources and cleaner energy. Society should find different ways to lower temperatures, such as reducing carbon emissions and implementing more renewable sources of energy. This will limit the drastic weather changes and floods while also providing a sustainable way of living for future generations.

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