East Bay 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.
East Bay High School, 7710 Old Big Bend Road in Gibsonton, opened next door in 1957 at the site of the current Eisenhower Middle School.
East Bay High School, 7710 Old Big Bend Road in Gibsonton, opened next door in 1957 at the site of the current Eisenhower Middle School. [ Hillsborough County School District ]
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.

Asia Rackard

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Valedictorian of my graduating class

2. Active in 4 school clubs and holds officer position in 2: president and Historian

3. Graduating with my Associate’s Degree

4. Earned over 100 volunteer hours as a counselor at a children’s camp designed for young girl’s

5. First in my family to attend college

6. Maintains GPA while working a part-time job

College or other post-high school plan:

Major in Marketing with a minor in Communications, Florida State University


Coronavirus is one of the most serious situations and topics discussed in today’s current events. This deadly pandemic has taken the lives of many people, so it is without question that we as a community should take the appropriate steps to stem the spread of coronavirus. A vital advance that we should all take is to wear our masks whenever we are out and about. When worn properly, a surgical mask can aid in the blockage of splashes, sprays, or splatter that may contain germs which results in those items reaching your mouth and nose. Masks also help reduce exposure of your bodily emissions to others around you.

Another precaution that should be taken to diminish the spread of the coronavirus is to wash your hands frequently. Hands are the fundamental pathways of germ transmission during medical care. Hand cleanliness is therefore the most important measure to avoid the transmission of harmful germs and put a stop to medical care-related contaminations. Another one of the most important steps is to stay home if you suspect that you have fallen ill with coronavirus. Do not leave your home, except to get medical care, and do not visit public areas. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illnesses and can recover at home without medical care.

Briana Walters

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Top 3%, graduating with a 6.73 GPA.

2. Actively involved in Science National Honors Society (SNHS) and National Honors Society (NHS).

3. High-ranked officer in the Cancer Crusaders club. I helped organize and plan Relay for Life and volunteered for the American Cancer Society.

4. Tutored for SNHS for AP Chemistry and AP biology.

Spend your days with Hayes

Spend your days with Hayes

Subscribe to our free Stephinitely newsletter

Columnist Stephanie Hayes will share thoughts, feelings and funny business with you every Monday.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

5. I have taken many elevated classes such as AP Chemistry, AP Biology, and AP Calculus.

6. I have been dual enrolled for 3 years, I am graduating with a 3.56 college GPA and over 30 credits.

7. Participated in the Swim team in 2017 and 2018, made it to the district level.

8. In 2019, I participated in a volunteer program hosted by USF, where I stayed on campus and learned leadership and public speaking skills.

College or other post-high school plans:

I have officially been admitted to the University of South Florida and I am majoring in Biomedical Sciences. After I receive my bachelor’s degree, I plan on taking the MCAT to either pursue medical school or get my doctorate degree in physical therapy. I plan on working through college in order to help pay for books, tuition, and classes.


I believe that there are many effective ways to help stop the spread of Covid-19. I believe that there should be a mask mandate in public spaces where people are in close proximity. It is important for people to realize this small step could help slow or stop the spread of Covid-19. I also think that the vaccine will also help stop the spread of Covid-19 and ultimately stop the virus completely. I believe that people should just be mindful and careful around who they are with and their actions. At this time we really need to come together and work together to help stop this virus and overcome these hard times.

Darrin Holmes

School activities and accomplishments:

  • 113 Community Service hours-9th-12th
  • Principal Honor Roll, 11th-12th
  • Science National Honor Society Member, 12th
  • Marching Band Drum Major, 12th
  • Dual Enrollment credit-twelve hours
  • Advanced Placement classes - four

College Plans:

Chemistry Major with a Microbiology Minor, University of South Florida


It is surreal to think that only a year ago, the whole world shut down due to the coronavirus. We all knew the feeling; one minute expected to return from Spring Break to normal lives, and the next, the whole world shut down for nearly six months. Many people shared numerous unforeseen concerns such as worrying about bills, and getting safety supplies to name a few.

If our leaders have never dealt with anything of this caliber then how are citizens supposed to feel safe? While we cannot completely disrupt the spread of the virus at this moment, citizens can surely minimize how many people get affected. The first step to combat COVID-19 would be to try and limit the amount of outside interactions at public locations. While I understand that some occupations like construction, and the fast food industry cannot work remotely because of the nature of the jobs, we could come together to do our part in tailoring outside ventures. Although contradictory sources may state polar opposite strategies, the second step of washing hands, not overcrowding others and self quarantining when feeling sick, has been proven to help prevent the spread of viruses in the past.

This is something we have never dealt with before, and researchers are still learning new details as we speak, so we must continue to monitor local and federal recommendations to respond to the changes in information regarding the pandemic.

Dominic A. Meler

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Lettered in Swim Team at East Bay, 4 years. Captain senior year.

2. Sang in Epcot Candlelight Choir, 2 years.

3. Participant in the USF Bridge Building Competition, 1 year.

4. Participant in the USF Math Bowl, 2 years.

5. Mu Alpha Theta member, 3 years. President senior year.

6. National Honor Society member, 2 years.

7. Science National Honor Society member, 2 years.

8. East Bay Key Club member, 2 years.

9. Sunshine State Scholar Award, junior year.

10. AP Scholar with Distinction Award, junior year.

11. AP Capstone Research Award, junior year.

12. Highest Team GPA of Men’s Fall Sports, senior year.

13. Participant in East Bay Science Bowl, 1 year.

14. Principal’s Honor Roll, 4 years.

College or other post-high school plans:

Aerospace Engineering at either University of Florida or Florida Polytechnic University.


Coronavirus has had a profound impact on our lives and society as a whole. This event is unlike anything the world has seen in recent times and as such, the government at both federal and local levels has struggled to decide a definitive plan of action to combat the virus. Battling this pandemic requires acute balancing of actions taken to stem the spread of the virus and maintain a healthy economy.

When considering the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, the government has done a fairly satisfactory job at handling things. One major complaint, particularly at the local level, that I believe should be changed is the failure to stick to a plan. It is understandable that as new information becomes available the government adjusts its actions accordingly, yet in this time of immense uncertainty any sense of direction can help dispel fear. It is better to have an ok plan and to tweak it as new information becomes available than to create an elaborate plan that will be completely turned over in a meeting. Communication and advance warnings that change will occur is key for the duration of the pandemic.

Masks should be continued to be worn until sufficient vaccines are distributed and nursing homes as well as retirement centers should have special precautions put in place to ensure those at risk are safe. Businesses must also be considered when making decisions. If we follow these actions, I believe we can one day end this pandemic.

Emily Ann Pesquera

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Student Government (9th through 12th grade); 11th grade- Secretary, 12th grade- President

2. Science and National Honor Society (10th through 12th grade)

3. AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination (9th through 12th grade); 10th grade- Treasurer, 11th grade- Vice President, 12th grade- President

4. Yearbook (10th through 12th grade); 11th grade- Editor, 12th grade- Editor

5. Tampa Bay Lightning Advent Health Inspiring Kid (10th grade)

6. Twins Inspiring Preparedness because of Sandy Hurricane Kits, Relay for Life of Southshore Committee (9th through 12th)- Accomplished 852 community service hours, was awarded the Prudential Spirit of Community Award (11th grade)

College or other post-high school plans:

Atmospheric Science and Communications, University of Tampa.


The Coronavirus Pandemic has interrupted lives throughout the world, every day we hear different rules and regulations on how to stop the spread of the virus. From local and state governments we are hearing mask mandates, despite the national government not putting a mask mandate on all states. Texas no longer requires mask, while in New York, masks are still heavily relied on.

The national government is urging people to maintain at-least six foot distance between each other, despite some states following their own rules about social distancing.With the spread of the virus slowing down, government officials need to be on the same page with either the state, national or local government, people need to know what the proper way is to protect themselves and not just because an official believes it is the proper way. The CDC, FDA and hospital personnel need to have input in what states release to their citizens. Communication and evidence is important in stopping the spread of this disruptive virus.

In the long run and after many trial runs, I believe there should be a nation-wide vaccine mandate. Science should be used before a say of the government comes into place. Stemming the spread of this devastating, life changing virus will take time; but government officials can communicate with each other and the public to help stop it, as well as continue watching the numbers to determine the intensity of the rules in place.

Nyah Evans

School activities and accomplishments:

1. First Place in FBLA broadcast journalism competition

2. Chorus Leadership Committee, where I participate in 3 groups (acapella, show choir, and an advanced choral music group)

3. Senior Class Secretary

4. Summer internship at Soaring to Achieve Real Success in Chicago, IL

5. Model for Nikki’s Glitz and Glam Boutique

6. Youtube channel with nearly 1,000 subscribers

College plans:

broadcast journalism, University of Missouri


COVID-19 without a doubt was the most earth-shattering change I have experienced in my whole life. This virus has taught me a lot and has ultimately changed my life. Having more alone time allowed me to reflect on my life and to focus on becoming the change agent I have always wanted to be.

Senior year was far from what I imagined it to be, in both good and bad ways. I had the opportunity to travel safely this spring break to Puerto Rico. I had gotten to experience something I feel I haven’t always seen, unity. The people in Puerto Rico had this mentality that they could get through this pandemic if they stick together. At restaurants and stores before anyone entered they instantly did a temperature check and sanitized the customer’s hands, and all stores placed a capacity limit that was strictly regulated. People also wore their masks everywhere, indoor and outside. Puerto Rico was living proof that you can still enjoy life and have some sort of “normalcy” while maintaining covid-19 regulations.

I feel the solution to dealing with COVID-19 is building a sense of community. This can be done by setting aside political differences and uniting to defeat the problem at hand. Rather than claiming to be a Republican or a Democrat, individuals can claim to be American. If we stick together and leave no one behind this pandemic can be over in no time with the help of the recent release of vaccines.

Randi Davis

School activities and accomplishments:

1. Salutatorian of the Class of 2021

2. AP Scholar & Honor Award

3. “Best Photograph” in the Congressional Art Competition at the Tampa Museum of Art, 2020.

4. 289 hours of community service at St. Joseph’s Hospital, 2 years.

5. Piano mentor for children at Bubble’s Music Studio 3 hr/week, 40 weeks/yr, 4 years.

6. Advocate/fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, 4 years.

College or other post-high school plans:

I plan to attend the University of Florida and I will be studying Animal Sciences in my journey to becoming a veterinarian.


Coronavirus took us all by surprise last year. I personally lost my grandfather to this awful virus and there are quite a few things that I would advise everyone to do to stem the spread of it. Firstly, I think that everyone needs to understand the severity of the virus. Many people choose to not take it seriously and these are the people that turn into super-spreaders.

I think that providing more education to the general public- possibly in the form of a pamphlet or email- could help get through to people who don’t know how serious this is. Second, in my opinion, it is absolutely essential that people receive their vaccines as soon as they are able to. This is a joint effort and it requires our communities to come together in unity. Though these first vaccines aren’t perfected yet, they are a step in the right direction. Lastly, I believe that traveling without first having a negative test should not be allowed. In this day and age, it is extremely easy for diseases to spread through our speedy transportation. This is no doubt one of the main reasons that the virus has spread to such an extent.

Because it would be unreasonable to expect all transportation to cease until the virus is under control, I think this is a great compromise. With these steps, I think that we could greatly slow and eventually stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Te’Dajah Bradley

School activities and accomplishments:

1. 3rd in class rank

2. 75 community service hours

3. NHS inductee , treasurer

4. Academic Letter

5. Softball and volleyball player

6. Graduating with AA

College Plans;

Studying Information Technology , Florida State University


Many rules and guidelines have been made to stem the spread of the coronavirus but yet anything has gotten better. As a person who has a weak immune system, I would say that we should be tested for corona every other week. The community should come together and make meals to hand out to keep the amount of movement and spread of corona. I know that it’s hard for the eldery to live like this, so with that being said they should receive free grocery delivery as well as meals.

• • •

Victoria Adegbesan

School activities and accomplishments:

During 9th and 10th grade I was part of my schools yearbook club. During my 9th, 10th and 11th grade year I helped with an after school program. For the first two years of high-school I was given the principals honor roll award.

College or other post-high school plans:

I will be pursuing a biology degree at FSU. In the hopes of one day becoming a doctor.