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.
The current campus of Brandon High School, 1101 Victoria St. in Brandon, opened in 1972.
The current campus of Brandon High School, 1101 Victoria St. in Brandon, opened in 1972. [ Times (2013) ]
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.

Daisy Wallace

School activities and accomplishments:

1. 5.91 GPA (weighted), 3.71 (unweighted)

2. I have earned 21 college credits through dual enrollment and AP classes

3. Certification in Photoshop, PowerPoint, and Word

4. I have over 75 hours of community service from making PBJs for the homeless, editing videos for faces of courage, working at habitat for humanity, and online as a listener on 7cups of tea

5. STEM Leadership technology representative

6. I am also a self-taught artist, I got to help design the 2021 yearbook cover

College or other post-high school plans:

I plan to continue my work at HCC. I’m currently working towards an AA in graphic design and Psychology. I hope to transfer to USF by the end of 2022 in order to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.


As someone who has anxiety, I’ve thought a lot about what my community and I can do to decrease the spread of COVID-19. Countries such as Taiwan, New Zealand, and Iceland were quick to act. They took action by implementing travel bans, curfews, and lockdowns which helped to lessen their case numbers from the start. We may not have that to our advantage, but we can still make a difference with our actions.

At the personal level, we can continue to make changes by following the CDC guidelines. We can stay safe by wearing our masks, practicing six feet of social distancing, getting vaccinated when available, as well as staying home and get tested when sick. In addition to the suggestions made by the CDC, we can do so much more. By taking advantage of services such as food/grocery delivery, online work, and video chat services we can decrease the amount of interaction. With a decrease in interaction between people, there will be a decrease in the risk of contracting COVID-19. Preventative measures like washing your hands and disinfecting your phone often are other great things to do, even if small.

At local to federal levels, things such as mask mandates, stay-at-home orders, coronavirus testing, and vaccine distribution can help to stem the spread of the COVID-19. Additional alternative care facilities and increased production of coronavirus protective equipment is a key factor in treating those who have COVID-19. Slowing the spread of the virus, hopefully will save countless lives.

Eileen Mengana

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Completed 16 hours of community service by volunteering for Tampa Bay Watch in creating clam filters for the Tampa bay and then cleaned up Brandon parks.

2. Member of NHS at Brandon high school and participated in a walk-a-thon fundraiser.

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College or other post-high school plans:

Biomedical Major at the University of South Florida


In the face of such a tumultuous and confusing time that has been brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s difficult to say which path would be most beneficial for our country. In this specific and entirely new situation that has changed society on a global scale, I personally believe it’s important to rely on methods that were tried and were proven to be largely successful abroad.

For instance, in nations such as New Zealand the methods used were onerous covid mandates, which were practiced strictly and put in place early on, allowing them to declare the pandemic over in the nation a mere 100 days after the pandemic began. In the case of the United States it’s difficult to imagine the same covid measures would be as successful a year later or would even be obeyed, but what should be noted from New Zealand’s success is that they were proactive rather than reactive, a method that would enact this same approach in the United States would be to vaccinate early and quickly.

An oft neglected hotspot for covid-19 spread surrounds children, who are not currently eligible for the vaccine. I firmly believe this, the urgent vaccination of children, to be the most practical solution to end the spread of the Coronavirus.

Jadyn Preyer

School Accomplishments and Achievements:

1. Recognized by Collegeboard as an AP Scholar with Honors.

2. Member of Rho Kappa.

3. Spent the last four years working with and volunteering through the City of Tampa’s PIO Office multiple hours a week, completing over 100 hours of community service hours. (Reference- Eddy Durkin~ (813) 326-9387).

4. AVID student of six years.

5. Rewarded the Chief’s Appreciation Award by the Chief of Police and the Mayor’s Office through the City of Tampa for community service.

6. Accomplished a perfect score on the FSA Writing (10) and Reading (5).

7. Achieved over a 6.0 weighted GPA.

College/Post High School Plans:

Attend FAU for at least two years with the intended major Mass Communication with focus in Digital Media/ Journalism.

With my cumulative collected AP credits in history, I might take a couple more classes to get my minor.

I also intend on transferring to peruse a master’s degree at UF or UT.


Although the Coronavirus pandemic has become a ruinous plague all over the globe, the best steps to limit and help bring an end to the pandemic is quite simple: decrease the amount of face-to-face public exposure almost completely. The United States’ attempt at a nation’s lockdown was just that: a poor attempt. People continuously went out in public for gatherings and repeatedly went against CDC guidelines.

Meanwhile, in Australia, citizens took the pandemic seriously and went on a complete national lockdown for multiple weeks; its results significantly decreased their cases to almost nonexistent numbers. They now can attend to normal affairs such as fully reopened schools, businesses, and concerts. Australia has therefore proven that a successful lockdown can end the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. If people in other countries, especially America, were to take the time to reflect on the selfish effects of ignoring CDC guidelines such as significant death rates, increased cases of sex trafficking, suicide, and child/domestic abuse rates, maybe their compassion mixed with the use of appropriate mask-wearing, vaccinations, and limited public exposure can end the spread.

The other step needed to be taken would be for all government officials to fully enforce CDC regulations through curfews, mandates, and fines. Even though another lockdown would hurt business and workers, having a proper one would in the long-term save lives and end the spread of the Coronavirus, thus bringing the world back to its state before the pandemic took over.

Jennifer LeGrande

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Student government for three years, president for one year

2. Early childhood education completer earning my Child Development Associate, four years

3. Anne Frank Humanitarian Award Recipient

4. National Honors Society, two years

5. Class council, two years

6. 4.0 unweighted GPA

Post-high school plans:

I will be attending the University of Tampa this fall to study elementary education. After graduating college, I intend to become a kindergarten teacher.


To stem the spread of the coronavirus, the government at the federal level should be providing the people with accurate information, backed by scientists, for officials at the state level to use while deciding their local guidelines. All individuals should be doing research to keep themselves up to date on the newest guidelines being released as well as making sure their information is coming from a reliable source. We need to continue doing what we have been since the beginning which is wearing masks properly and keeping as distanced as possible. Everyone should limit their outings and group sizes to minimize exposures. Although, we do have some new developments now that will help us combat the pandemic even further. With the vaccines being available to more and more people, all those who can should be getting vaccinated to help bring an end to the pandemic. Vaccinations will help minimize the number and severity of COVID-19 cases.

Madison Salvog

School Activities and Accomplishments:

1. Valedictorian of my graduating class- 7.0 GPA

2. Has 100+ hours helping in my school and in the science department at USF.

3. President of Rho Kappa, Honors society of history.

4. Captain of varsity girls soccer team- 2 years.

5. Received my Child Development Associate certificate in early childhood education.

6. I have passed all AP exams I have taken- 4 AP courses.

College or other post-high school plans:

After I graduate, I plan on completing one more class at Hillsborough Community College to obtain my Associates Degree. After I will later attend USF in the fall semester where I will major in Dermatology.


With the new COVID-19 vaccine being released to the public, it has uplifted the regulations that we had to previously follow. There is less regulation on masks, social distancing, etc. Although this is a step to uplift the pandemic, we still should take the same precautions we originally were taking. To stem the spread of COVID-19 I believe we should all maintain social distancing. There should be a return to limited number of people in stores and/or buildings. I also believe we should continue to wear our masks even if given the vaccine. It is better to be proactive than reactive. Taking these precautions will allow us to be safe and reduce number of cases.

Rhiann Thornton

School activities and accomplishments:

1. In the top five students at my high school

2. Writer in Journalism all four years

3. Currently obtaining my CDA

4. Went to the county competitions in Science Fair and Poetry Jam

College or other post-high school plans:

I will go to University of North Florida, where I will learn about business and accounting. I hope to one day have my own bookstore, my degree will help me learn how to run and build this business.


I think that the nation should have acted sooner. The news mentioned the coronavirus and America assumed that it wouldn’t affect our nation, so we didn’t act. However, we could have saved thousands of lives if we had acted sooner. I think if we went into lockdown instead of continuing to party like many people did, we could have saved lives. People to this day doubt that the coronavirus wasn’t just a hoax and those are the same people that went about their day, didn’t wear masks, and caused people to get sick or even die in some cases. If we went into a nationwide lockdown, these people wouldn’t have been able to do that. Most people would say that this would be detrimental to the economy. My question to them would be: how much is a human life worth to you? We can fix the economy, but we can’t bring those who died back to life.