Academy of the Holy Names: 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.
Academy of the Holy Names, 3319 Bayshore Blvd. in Tampa, is a Catholic school serving grades pre-kindergarten through 12th.
Academy of the Holy Names, 3319 Bayshore Blvd. in Tampa, is a Catholic school serving grades pre-kindergarten through 12th. [ Academy of the Holy Names ]
Published May 19, 2021|Updated May 19, 2021

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 2021 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.

Danielle J. Fonsing

School activities and accomplishments:

- Ambassador for high school, two years.

- Lettered in swimming on the high school team, four years.

- Math team and calculus team lead in junior year, three years.

- About 150 hours volunteering as a group leader of an educational summer program and a crew leader of a religious summer program for elementary school.

- Treasurer of the Chain Reaction Fundraiser which is a student-run fundraiser that raises money for pediatric cancer research, one year.

- Awarded the National Center for Women & Information Technology 2020 Central Florida Affiliate Rising Star which honors students’ computing-related achievements.

College or other post-high school plans:

Majoring in actuarial science, Florida State University.


As the COVID-19 pandemic escalates, views on proposed guidelines have become increasingly polarized. In these times of crisis and opposition, relying on the basic principles the United States set in the Declaration of Independence is key to determining appropriate action.

The protection of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” through the promotion of physical safety from COVID-19 should be at the core of mandates. Recommendations to wear masks indoors and in public settings, limit capacity of buildings and transportation vehicles, and social distance should be enforced by the government to protect lives. Furthermore, local governments should determine what number of daily cases is considered to be too high in their county to implement stay-at-home orders for at least a week when this number is reached. Lastly, states should all continue an issue of a Public Health Emergency since many are about to expire to grant people access to medical help and treatment in the circumstance of getting infected.

Together, these steps will provide a safer environment that limits the spread of the coronavirus. However, for this model to work, all individuals need to actively follow these guidelines and understand that these government mandates do not impede on their freedoms. Rather, they ensure people’s fundamental rights from the Declaration of Independence are granted by protecting their lives. Therefore, the mandates can help direct the government and individuals to agreeably stem the coronavirus while maintaining basic liberties.

Emara Saez

Emara Saez, a student at the Academy of the Holy Names in Tampa, is one of four winners in the 2021 R.F. "Red" Pittman Tribune Scholars program.
Emara Saez, a student at the Academy of the Holy Names in Tampa, is one of four winners in the 2021 R.F. "Red" Pittman Tribune Scholars program. [ Emara Saez ]
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School activities and accomplishments:

1. Speech and Debate Club (9-12), Co-President (12)

2. Achona Newspaper Staff Writer (11,12), Managing Editor (12)

3. Social Justice Club (11,12)

4. Scranton Mission Trip (11)

5. National Beta Club (10-12)

6. National Honor Society (11,12)

College or other post-high school plans:

I will be majoring in Political Science at Tufts University.


When it comes to stemming the spread of COVID-19, the best approach is the one being taken by countries like Australia, New Zealand, and Iceland; at the beginning of the pandemic, countries tried a plethora of approaches to minimize the spread of COVID-19 with a variety of success.

The methods of the aforementioned countries proved to be the most successful, as they all took a strong, compassionate federal approach towards preserving human life in the face of the large threats posed by COVID-19. First, the countries that successfully mitigated the spread of COVID-19 had public acceptance of basic COVID-19 guidelines like social distancing, mask wearing, and frequent handwashing. That public acceptance was aided by consistent, clear messaging from federal government officials about public health. Next, successful countries also implemented international border closures and quarantines when cases were spiking, along with enforcing those measures with hefty fines. These countries also facilitated these shifts by providing subsidies for small businesses, low income families, and unemployed individuals. Of course, once the COVID-19 vaccine was widely available, these countries invested in rapid rollout to all of their populations.

All of these measures allowed people to prioritize their health, and over a year later, return back to normal life. While some measures may be unpopular or controversial, the data shows that the previously mentioned methods are effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19, and thus should be implemented to save lives from this wretched disease and end the pandemic as soon as possible.

Kaitlyn Lezama

School activities and accomplishments:

- Speech and Debate Member, Treasurer (2019-2020); placed second at the local 2019 Rotary Oratorical Competition, placed second twice and third once in Dramatic Interpretation, volunteered to help host a qualifying tournament for nationals at our school

- Global Seal of Biliteracy, Functional Fluency

- Math Team and Mu Alpha Theta Member, Treasurer (2018-2019)

- Eucharistic Minister; have been filling prayer bowls and light candles for mass in lieu of distributing communion due to COVID-19

- 160 hours of community service collected during the James A Haley Veteran’s Hospital Summer Youth Program; first year working in the Neurology Department (2018) and second year a member of the My Life My Story team (2019)

- Published as first author in the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Conference 2020

College or other post-high school plans:

I plan on studying microbiology at the University of Florida.


From authorities at the federal, state and local levels, people are hearing a variety of rules and guidelines arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of them even contradict one another. What steps do you believe should be taken to stem the spread of the coronavirus?

Despite guidelines not always matching at multiple levels of government, there are two integral factors in stemming the spread of the Coronavirus that all are striving to achieve: social distancing and increased vaccination rate.

It is difficult to maintain the first factor of social distancing given the fatigue from quarantine, leading many to become more lax with the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendations. The CDC has updated its guidelines regarding social distancing as vaccinations have become available, allowing for people who have been vaccinated twice to gather in small groups at homes without masks. However, they still emphasize social distancing with masks when in crowds. This factor is pivotal for preventing the unintended spread of the virus from asymptomatic individuals to vulnerable parties.

The second component to stem COVID-19 from spreading is through vaccination. The two major vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, prevent the disease with a 95% efficacy. By getting vaccinated, one promotes protection for themselves and prevents spreading the virus to others. As more individuals become vaccinated, this additionally serves to protect those who cannot receive it through herd immunity- at least 70-80 percent of the population vaccinated which in turn prevents the disease from being spread through them to those unvaccinated.

Local, state and federal leaders need to work together to promote messaging that is driven by the updated scientific guidelines of the CDC while encouraging vaccination awareness activities to those who have not taken the vaccination at the expected rate of the general population.

• • •

Olivia Scarpo

School activities and accomplishments:

1. FRC robotics: Team 3164 (10, 11, 12) - As co-president of this team, I helped to plan, design, and build a large-scale robot to compete in competitions hosted by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).

2. Chain Reaction board member (10, 11, 12) - I helped to lead fundraising efforts for pediatric cancer and the CailinStrong foundation. Together, we planned the main field day fundraiser and other fundraising events. We also completed small activities such as cancer patient care packages and pen-pal letters.

3. Teen Leadership Council (9, 10, 11, 12) - I worked with middle schoolers monthly to be their mentor, discussing topics such as body image and relationships to help them transition into high school.

4. SeaPerch robotics team (10, 11, 12) - This was a new concept of robotics that my peers and I researched and implemented into our school to increase STEM participation. We created teams of students and provided them their own robot to learn about and build. Our end goal is to use these robots to clean the Tampa Bay

5. Appalachia mission trip (9, 11) - I was chosen from applicants in the high school to work for the Appalachian South Folklife Center in Pipestem, W.V. and later, Habitat for Humanity in Avery County, N.C.

6. National Honor Society (10, 11, 12)

College or other post-high school plans:

I plan on attending the University of Florida to study engineering. Since 6th grade, I have had a great interest in space and learning how things work, and I hope to combine these interests to accomplish something in the space industry.