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2020 Winners

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Congratulations 2020 PSRW Essay Winners


Michelle TranMichelleTran

First Place ($2,000 scholarship)

Essay: "Detection and Disinfection," in which she wrote about being chief sanitarian for the Houston Health Department.

Michelle Tran is graduating from Tomball Memorial High School. She plans to study business or education at the University of Texas at Austin.

Tran has played viola in orchestra since sixth grade and serves as orchestra secretary. She performed in a quartet at Jones Hall and earned a top rating at State Solo and Ensemble competition. She earned a gold key award for poetry, served as treasurer of the Key Club, and has been a member of the Mu Alpha Theta math honor society for two years.

She volunteered through Marine Corps Junior ROTC, orchestra, Key Club, and National Honor Society. Over the summer, she volunteers at Grace Care, a retirement and assisted living facility.

Read her full essay submission.


Macy HuangMacyHuang

Second Place ($1,200 scholarship)

Essay: "Finding Room to Grow: Optimizing Houston's Land Usage," in which she wrote about being the director of the Planning and Development Department.

Macy Huang is graduating as class salutatorian from Carnegie Vanguard High School in the Houston Independent School District. She plans to study computer science or electrical engineering at Rice University or the Georgia Institute of Technology.

She is a National Merit Finalist and has been a University Interscholastic League state finalist for several years, participating in events such as literary criticism, copy editing, spelling and vocabulary, and headline writing. She was an active member of the Carnegie Vanguard Rotary-Interact Club as webmaster and historian and was vice president of the Women in Science and Engineering Club. Additionally, she is involved in Quiz Bowl and various national honor societies. Huang has studied piano for 12 years and recently won second place in the Houston Music Teachers Association/Fort Bend Music Piano Competition.

Under the Houston Rotary-sponsored Interact Club, Huang helped organize fundraisers and school events to help out in her community. In the past two years, her volunteer work with the Interact Club has resulted in over $28,000 being raised toward Puerto Rican hurricane relief education initiatives. She has also volunteered with her school's Mu Alpha Theta Math National Honor Society to tutor middle and high school students.

Read her full essay submission.


Mackenzie JoeMackenzieJoe

Third Place ($800 scholarship)

Essay: "Houston's Health," in which she writes about being the director of public health for the Houston Health Department

Mackenzie Joe is graduating with high honors from St. Agnes Academy. She plans to major in philosophy, neuroscience and psychology: language, culture and cognition on the pre-medical track at Washington University in St. Louis. 

Joe received the Tulane University Book Award for excellence in academics, leadership, public service, and social justice. She is an active member of National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, and National Spanish Honor Society. She is an AP Scholar with honors and has received academic excellence awards in English 2 and Biology 1. She was also a Posse Semi-Finalist for the University of Virginia.

She held leadership roles in Student Council for three consecutive years and served as the Events and Planning Chair of the Future Medical Professionals Club. She earned an academic excellence award in Honors economics. She participated in St. Agnes’ ambassador program for prospective students and served on the student board of directors at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Houston Branch. Joe was involved with her school’s campus ministry program, leading retreats through the Dominican Preaching Team. Outside of the classroom, she played volleyball and lacrosse and participated in her church’s youth group.

Joe volunteers with Harris Health at Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, assisting the staff in the outpatient clinic and in overnight patient care units. She has also participated in several mission trips. Working with the Rustic Pathways travel and community service program in Thailand, Joe helped lay the foundation for a kindergarten classroom, while also learning about the refugee crisis on the Thai-Myanmar border. She volunteered with Living Water International in Guatemala to build a water well. In New Orleans, she volunteered with Mission Lab ministry to aid the homeless, and she has painted rooms in an orphanage in Peru with Buckner International. And she also volunteered at Camp of the Hills in Marble Falls, Texas, working with at-risk, inner-city campers.

Read her full essay submission.


Megha BhatiaMegha Megha Bhatia

Honorable Mention ($500 scholarship)

Essay: "A Spongier and Greener Houston," in which she wrote about being a supervising engineer for Houston Public Works.

Megha Bhatia is graduating from the Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions in the Houston Independent School District. She plans to study Health and Society on the pre-medical track and Plan II Honors at the University of Texas at Austin.

Bhatia is a Congressional Gold Award recipient, was named an AP Scholar with distinction, and has also earned the President’s Volunteer Award for her volunteer service around the community. She also earned a spot on the honor roll all four years.

She served as vice president of her high school UNICEF club, through which she raised funds for children and spread awareness on human trafficking. She was president of the French Club and an active member Health Occupations Students of America, where she competed at the state level for parliamentary procedure. She was also part of the Indian Desi Culture Club, where she danced each year at the DeBakey International Festival. She has been learning and performing traditional Indian Kathak dancing since the age of 5. She has also been playing the violin for 12 years and was a member of the DeBakey High School orchestra.

Bhatia volunteered her summers at Texas Children’s and Memorial Hermann hospitals. With a McGovern Medical School professor, she initiated the Empowering Women project in which she helped underprivileged women in India create a sustainable livelihood for themselves through educating and providing health-related opportunities. She also loves spending her time volunteering at the Children’s Museum and Museum of Fine Arts.

Read her full essay submission.


Samiha ZamanSamihaZaman

Honorable Mention ($500 scholarship)

Essay: "Implementing Garden Programs in Houston's Urban Space,” in which she wrote about being an urban garden manager for the Houston Health Department.

Samiha Zaman is graduating from Bellaire High School in the Houston Independent School District. She plans to study business administration and health studies at the University of Houston.

Zaman served as secretary and later president of the Muslim Student Association, through which she organized school events to increase Muslim student involvement and combat misrepresentation and stereotypes about Islam. She was active in the Future Problem Solvers Club, where she developed community service projects. She was a member of the Arabic Club and National Honor Society, through which she volunteered around the community. She had an internship at the Children's Museum of Houston's Maker Annex where she learned about soldering, 3-D printing, and laser cutting while assisting children with doing fun STEM-related activities.

Zaman won third place in the Houston Public Library's Teen Writing Contest for High School Poetry in 2017 and third place High School Short Story in 2019. She was a QuestBridge College Prep Scholar in 2019 and a QuestBridge finalist in 2020. Her Future Problem Solvers Club team won the Texas FPS State Bowl as Grand Champion for Senior Division of Community Problem Solving in 2019 and 2020.

She has volunteered at Fresh Hub food distribution events and Readiness-Across-Mathematics Workshops for STEM education. Zaman also volunteered at local mosque events within the Houston Muslim community.

Read her full essay submission.

View the PSRW Essay Awards Program

Last modified on Thursday, 28 May 2020 00:49
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Essays must be submitted online by midnight on Monday, April 19, 2021.