Sophomore first to win prestigious award

Sophomore first to win prestigious award

Chau Dong hold the award she received for being Sophomore of the Year.

Story by Sydney Schoen, Staff Writer

Sophomore Chau Dong was presented with the “Walter Hurst Sophomore of the Year Scholarship,” or “Sophomore of the Year Award,” on March 6. There, campus administrators watched as she was awarded a $600 scholarship and a plaque.

Dong was selected the winner out of some 500 prospects living in the Texas and Oklahoma area, and was also the first winner from Texas High in a number of years.

“I honestly didn’t think I would win over 500 students from the states of Texas and Oklahoma,” Dong said. “I knew there were several dedicated students from [those regions]. I was always hoping, but could never imagine.”

The award is given to those who exemplify superior leadership qualities, not academic records like many would assume. Dong insists that her role with StuCo as sophomore class secretary helped fill that criteria, as well as others.

“It gave me another extracurricular activity and supported my roles in leadership,” Dong said. “[Also], StuCo has given me most of my community service [hours]. We do fun projects, and it opens me up to new people and activities.”

Besides the possibility of earning a scholarship acting as encouragement to pursue the award, Dong credits her parents as being some of her biggest motivators.

“My parents have always been my supporters,” Dong said. “When I suggested applying, they were with me through it all.”

The application process, geared toward helping sophomores garner experience in applying for scholarships for college, was a rather rigorous one that included a four-page essay. Dong, under a time “crunch,” received assistance from Stephanie Casteel, Texas High’s College Recruiter.

“I actually found out about the scholarship three days before the actual deadline of the scholarship,” Dong said. “I wrote the initial mock up of my four-page report in one night, literally staying up all night. I had the help of Mrs. Casteel. She helped mainly in adding “catchy” lines in my essays.  I was completely finished in two days and submitted it in time.”

Casteel also praises Dong on her work ethic, in reference to the application’s essay.

“[When] Chau told me, her face was beaming with pride and accomplishment,” Casteel said. “Chau worked diligently on the essay. She poured her heart into it.”