(COLLEGE STATION, Texas)?A College Station student won a competitive scholarship contest, beating out students from across the state with her environmental work and ideas.
Guiliana Salazar-Noratto is the recipient of a $1,000 Don't Mess with Texas scholarship. A record-number of students entered the Texas Department of Transportation's scholarship contest this year.
"Winners of the Don't Mess with Texas scholarship exemplify not only hard work in the classroom but a commitment to litter prevention in their communities," said Doris Howdeshell, Travel Information Division Director at TxDOT.
Earlier this year, TxDOT opened its annual scholarship contest to students across the state. Salazar-Noratto implemented smart littering solutions. In her essay, she had to identify a specific litter problem in her school or community and explain how she had taken a leadership role to prevent or solve it.
Throughout her time in high school, she has participated in several beautification projects. As vice president of her school's Key Club, she also had the opportunity to organize and participate in local park cleanups.
"I have always had a passion for the environment," said Salazar-Noratto. "Preventing litter might not seem like a big help compared to all the environmental problems we have right now, but, to me, this is a stepping stone - it's an activity where everybody can contribute and help the state."
"Winning this scholarship is an honor to me, and I see it as a special reward for the environmental work I have done."
Salazar-Noratto is a senior at A&M Consolidated High School and plans to attend Texas A&M University where she will major in Biomedical Engineering.
TxDOT also unveiled a new scholarship award, adding to its traditional one. For this new scholarship, students' essays were about how to get a litterbag in every car, focusing on a creative and sustainable solution that would encourage Texans to use litterbags.
Raytheon sponsored this year's scholarship program, offering three scholarships for college totaling $5,000. The other two winners were Samantha Zarazua, of San Antonio, and Mary Emily Allen, from Leander, who wrote the litterbag essay.
"Every year we are impressed with the ingenuity and creativity of the students who submit essays to our scholarship competition," said Howdeshell. "We hope the Don't Mess with Texas scholarship program encourages students to stay active in environmental activities and continue to think about how litter affects their communities.
The scholarships are intended for high-school seniors planning to pursue a two- or four-year degree at a Texas university or college. The Texas Department of Transportation awarded the first Don't Mess with Texas scholarship in 2004 to reward high school seniors who work to improve litter problems in their communities. Research shows Texans ages 16 to 24 are the most likely to litter, and the scholarship is designed to help motivate and raise awareness among this peer group.
About Don't Mess with Texas
Don't Mess with Texas has been educating Texans about litter prevention since 1986. TxDOT's litter prevention program includes Adopt-a-Highway and a grassroots partnership with Keep Texas Beautiful. Don't Mess with Texas activities also include a spring 'Trash-Off,' community outreach and a corporate partner program. For more information, visit www.DontMessWithTexas.org. TxDOT's goals are to reduce congestion, enhance safety, expand economic opportunity, improve air quality and increase the value of transportation assets. For more information, visit www.txdot.gov.