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TASA has named the 2017 recipients of the Johnny L. Veselka Scholarship, awarded annually since 2014 to outstanding doctoral students pursuing careers in educational leadership, with particular emphasis on the superintendency.

Each of the following recipients will be awarded a $2,500 scholarship during the TASA Midwinter Conference in Austin January 29-February 1:

Jharrett Bryantt, assistant superintendent for college readiness and success for Houston ISD, is working toward his doctorate in education administration in The University of Texas at Austin’s Cooperative Superintendency Program. “A superintendent is a champion for the needs of the community, and this is a responsibility that I am passionate to pursue,” he wrote in his application. “With the right set of experiences and support from my mentors within Houston and at UT Austin, I am confident that I will one day have the skills to build and implement a transformative vision for an entire school system and community.”

Anitra Makoni, a data analyst with Fort Worth ISD, is pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership from Dallas Baptist University. “What drives me is that I know there are countless students with similar to worse struggles than the ones I overcame and educators have the power to motivate and transform a student’s thinking and perception of themselves,” she wrote in her application. “Just as I have successfully completed my educational and professional endeavors thus far, all students — no matter their background — can as well. I believe this to be true at my very core and have spent my career advocating for students and going after professional opportunities that allow me to have the biggest impact possible.”

Christi Morgan, assistant superintendent, Sunnyvale ISD, is working toward her doctorate in education from the University of North Texas. “As a superintendent, I would be thankful for the opportunity to create a culture of learning that encourages all learners to seek and develop their skills and passions,” she wrote in her application. “My goal would be to equip students to research, question, think, evaluate options, and develop solutions both independently and collaboratively. Preparing students to thrive in their future is the task at hand, and as a superintendent, I would welcome the chance to align relevant learning with high-priority learning standards.”

Ramiro Nava, executive director of support services with Somerset ISD, is planning to complete his doctorate in education from The University of Texas at San Antonio in May 2017. “My educational work experiences have taught me two skills that will allow me the opportunity to be successful [as a superintendent],” he wrote in his application. “One, the importance of building strong relationships grounded in trust, and two, having a service mindset.”

The scholarship recognizes the ongoing leadership of Dr. Johnny L. Veselka, who has dedicated more than 40 years of service to the association, including 31 years as TASA’s executive director.