Alonso 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.
Teens fill the walkways between classes at Alonso High School, 8302 Montague St. in Tampa.
Teens fill the walkways between classes at Alonso High School, 8302 Montague St. in Tampa. [ Times (2016) ]
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.

Emma Coyne

School activities and accomplishments:

  • I am the president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes club at my school.
  • I was a member of the Cross Country team at my school for 2 years.
  • I was a member of the Track Team at my school for 3 years.
  • I am now the Co-Captain of my competitive dance team and have been a member throughout high school, where I have learned a significant amount about leadership.
  • I have volunteered as an instructor at my dance studio during 10th, 11th and 12th grades to share my love of dance as well as the knowledge I have gained with years of training.
  • I have volunteered at Metropolitan Ministries during 11th and 12th grade.

College Plans:

I plan to attend the University of South Florida and major in Finance.

Scholarship Essay:

I remember the beginning. When we were excited to have another week of spring break and weren’t aware of the severity of our situation. We could never expect going into lockdown, losing loved ones, and not knowing what would come next.

I know that people are fighting to get back to normalcy. People are sick of feeling stuck. However, these are the cards we’ve been dealt. A big step that I believe needs to be taken to stem the spread of coronavirus is for people to take a step back and consider other people’s situations. I believe that the issue of people not cooperating with wearing their masks or quarantining when it is necessary is caused by them only caring about their own health, not how it would affect others.

It is possible for us to go out again, to experience some things we got to before the pandemic. We can go to school, go to work, go out to eat. Our new normal for now is wearing a mask and being cautious to prevent the spread of coronavirus. If it isn’t for you and your own family, think about someone else’s.

Throughout the whole pandemic, it seemed as if the end goal was the vaccine. Please remember that a vaccine does not make you invincible. We continue to hear comparisons between the coronavirus and the flu – if that is the case, just because you get a flu vaccine doesn’t mean you can’t get another strain.

Erika Higgins

School activities/accomplishments:

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  • I have been the president of DECA for the past two years.
  • I have advanced from district DECA competitions and placed top 10 at state DECA competitions the past three years in a row.
  • I was the president of a Start with Hello-sponsored club for two years.
  • I have been a member of National Honor Society for three years.
  • I am ranked 6th in my graduating class.
  • I am the lead youth volunteer at Maureen B. Gauzza public library, with over 100 hours of community service there

College/post-high school plans:

I will be attending Florida State University in the fall as an honors student and pursuing a degree in business.

Scholarship essay:

To help slow the spread of coronavirus, masks need to be enforced. They need to be enforced on the government level, and not left to minimum wage workers to enforce. From my experience working in restaurants, I have dealt with many non-compliant individuals who took their frustration towards the mask mandate on me and my coworkers. If the mandate is lifted, the government is not only harming the people by encouraging the spread of coronavirus, but also encouraging harassment to those businesses still enforcing it.

Before lifting mask mandates and eliminating the need for social distancing, vaccines need to be distributed nationwide and internationally. If the countries worked together to test and distribute a single or a few vaccines instead of each working separately and selfishly, we as a planet would have already eliminated the virus entirely. There are companies refusing to release their studies involving the vaccine because it benefits them financially, but human health should be prioritized before money.

Locally, school districts need to provide their schools with the proper materials to slow the spread of coronavirus. Some of the wealthiest counties in Florida still are not able to provide their schools with hand sanitizer, masks, and even soap for the bathrooms. Myself and many other students will agree that our bathrooms are not consistently stocked. How are we supposed to remain healthy when we cannot even wash our hands?

All in all, cooperation is the key to slowing the spread of and eventually eliminating coronavirus.

Karina Diaz

School Activities and accomplishments:

In school, I hold the Senior Class President office and have had the position for the past four years. I am also a member of the National Honors Society as well as a member of the Environmental Club. For athletics, I have been a part of the varsity Flag Football team for three years and am currently a captain.

College or other post-high school plans:

After graduation, I plan on attending the University of South Florida where I will pursue my bachelor’s degree in Biology.


For many in our community, Coronavirus has been a source of stress and strife. Our state and federal governments have done what they see as being most beneficial for society which may not be best to curb the spread of coronavirus. At times it may feel that we are so disconnected from our governments as we monotonously live with Coronavirus instead of being fully involved in our community and finding ways to implement more productive and headstrong instructions and guidelines that will benefit our community and the future populations. At all levels of our governments, they each have their own responsibilities however they are reaching for the same goal, controlling the spread of Coronavirus and returning to a less distanced life.

As many cities begin to vaccinate more and more, we begin to brave into a new era of this pandemic. Owing to our federal government, vaccines have become widely available to many states and has been a great relief to many. Where we can improve would be in our local governments pushing for and ensuring that making appointments for, and vaccinating those that are able, is very efficient.

Creating a simple website where those who wish to be vaccinated could find times and places that are available to them and directly make appointments. This website should be mobile friendly and should have updated and reliable information as to each specific and verified brand of vaccines and symptoms that one may have after vaccination.

Keris Nordin

School activities and accomplishments:

4 dedicated years to my school’s FFA organization, helped to develop a stronger LGBTQ+ alliance, and stayed dedicated to learning the German language and culture throughout my four years in high school.

College or other post-high school plans:

I will be attending UCF this summer and am hoping to major in Aerospace Engineering and German


Many have faced great struggles this year with the global COVID-19 Pandemic. People were forced to wear masks and were placed in uncomfortable situations daily. However, authorities of local and federal levels have held strong, and their strength has kept everyone’s hopes high.

Many families (my own included) have looked towards Dr. Fauci (American physician-scientist and immunologist who serves as the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) as a shining light in this otherwise dull story that we now call our average everyday life. His superior knowledge on the subject has influenced doctors and nurses to hold strong, he is a huge advocate for wearing masks properly which I believe is the most important physical step that everyone should take towards stemming the spread of this virus.

Even despite professional advice, some people refuse to wear masks. This refusal raises another problem, this time more mental. The Ignorance must be solved or else the masks are practically ineffective, the lack of understanding of the consequences is outrageous. “Anti-mask Protestors” (as they are being called) are unaware of what their actions bring. Issues such as these are common, not always involving a global outbreak, but this is a strong example of the ignorance of mankind.

We are often oblivious to the struggles of others, thinking ourselves and our lives are more important overall the most important step that can be taken is to open our eyes and hearts to the suffering of others.

• • •

Jade Ruse

School activities/accomplishments:

-JROTC Cadet of the Year for my school

-Salutatorian of my class (8.0 weighted GPA, 4.0 unweighted)

-Hillsborough County Top Ten Cadet

-Bass section leader in orchestra

-Officer of Rho Kappa Social Studies Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta Math Honors Society

-NHS/Beta Club member

College/post-high school plans:

Go to the University of Florida, study Aerospace Engineering on an NROTC scholarship, commission as an officer in the Navy after graduation