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TASA has named the 2018 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 28-31:

Elmer Avellaneda, executive director of special programs for Corsicana ISD, is working toward his doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies at Tarleton State University.

“I have witnessed and felt firsthand the consequences that a lack of education brings forth; as a result, I have chosen the superintendency as my career path,” he wrote in his application. “I want to continue to cast hope, support, encouragement and faith into the lives of our students so that they too can one day reach their full potential.”

Mya Kendrick-Mercer, director of elementary staffing for Round Rock ISD, is working toward her doctorate in educational leadership and policy from The University of Texas at Austin.

“As an African-American child from poverty, it was public education that made it possible for me to intelligibly overcome the early economic and social hurdles set before me. It was the talented and skilled public educators who worked tirelessly to give me the access and opportunity,” she wrote in her application. “Because of the efforts of several champions on my journey, I am empowered to lead and champion others to do likewise for the students of both today and tomorrow.”

Tanya Larkin, superintendent of Pampa ISD, is pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership from Lamar University.

“The superintendent sets the tone for the entire district and community, articulates the vision, mobilizes the resources, and clears the path from distractions so that all staff can focus on the students. Although only in this job a short time, I am already in love with the role,” she wrote in her application. “I am excited and humbled to have the opportunity to serve and am learning more of how best to do the right things, in the right ways, for the right reasons—every day.”

The scholarship recognizes the leadership of Dr. Johnny L. Veselka, who has dedicated 43 years of service to the association, including 32 years as TASA’s executive director. Veselka will retire in spring 2018.