The Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, Texas thanks the dozens of well-qualified candidates who submitted applications for the AAFA-TX Kareem Bacchus Memorial Scholarships. It is difficult for the committee to select the best from the best. We are proud to award three Scholarships to these exceptional young Texans who have several traits in common: they are excellent scholars; they are academic and social leaders; they are active in organized sports or performance arts; they contribute service to their communities and churches; they work part time – and they have asthma. They reflect the same spirit demonstrated by Kareem Bacchus, in whose name and memory the scholarships are awarded. Congratulations! AAFA-TX hopes these scholarships help each recipient realize his dreams and potential.
Austin Alan Baty
James Martin High School, Arlington, Texas
People who know him describe Austin as courteous, dependable and determined. Austin not only excels academically but is deeply involved in volunteer work in his community, his church and in school extracurricular activities, despite moderate persistent asthma. Austin discovered he had asthma when he was six years old. Suddenly unable to breathe, he was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance where he was diagnosed with asthma. A chest wall deformity which decreases his normal lung capacity to 65 percent complicates his asthma, too. Austin’s asthma symptoms are triggered by allergies and infections like colds or bronchitis.
Like many kids of six, Austin discovered sports and became an avid soccer player for more then 10 years even though much of the time he played he was straining for breath.
At the age of 8, he found another love: music. His frequent asthma bouts and lack of breath control meant he would have trouble singing or playing a wind instrument but the cello was perfect for him. He is masterful with the cello; besides playing in the school’s Symphony Orchestra and in a String Quartet, he was hired as a cellist by the Brazos Chamber Orchestra, quite an accomplishment for a young person.
Respected by friends and teachers alike, Austin excels academically. He always took the most challenging classes and in his senior year enrolled in advanced placement European History, Biology, English Literature and PAP Spanish III. He is a gifted student but also is determined to excel in every area. That determination paid off: he ranks first (Valedictorian) in his senior class of 756.
His academic honors include National Honor Society, 1st place at the TCU Physics Olympics, AP Scholar with Distinction, winner of the Network of Hispanic Communicator’s writing contest, a U.S. Physics Team Semi-Finalist, a National Merit Scholar, 1st place at the Texas Math and Science Association’s state contest, and NASA’s High School Aerospace Scholars. Besides studying, playing soccer and the cello, Austin is a voracious and eclectic reader and found time to participate in Key Club, become president of the Physics Club and Secretary of the Young Americans for Political Awareness club. He’s volunteered in his community and has worked as a personal tutor 5 hours a week.
A balanced, witty and focused young man, Austin is a friend to everyone he meets. He will major in physics and mathematics at Texas A & M University in College Station, and hopes to become a researcher with a goal of one day winning the Nobel Prize in Physics. He just might do it! Having asthma, missing school several days each term due to severe symptoms, has not hindered this young man in any fashion. Congratulations, Austin.
Schulenburg High School, Moulton, Texas
With an A+ average (100.439) throughout high school, it’s no surprise that Caitlyn is first in her graduating class. What is surprising is that she also carves time to participate in athletic programs (swim team and volleyball), cheerleading, serves as an officer in FFA (Future Farmers of America) as well as NHS, (National Honor Society), be elected student council president as well as her class president and was peer-chosen as Homecoming Sweetheart. In her spare time, Caitlyn volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club, is assistant swim coach, has worked on local food drives, done tutoring and holds a responsible part time job to help with family finances; her employers applaud her self-reliance, dependability and ability to see a job needs done and to do it. She has become a valuable part of her employer’s “team” exhibiting professional skills beyond her years.
Caitlyn has had severe asthma since infancy but it wasn’t diagnosed until she was a small child. She felt it was a barrier she had to overcome and she certainly has succeeded. Her family life centered around their Dairy farm, a life Caitlyn loves but yet contributed to her asthma symptoms.
As a small child she wanted to spend all her time helping on the farm around the animals, but the dust, feed and animal dander triggered symptoms; she couldn’t breathe most of the time. Determined not to let this disease dictate her goals in life, she saw many physicians, underwent allergy testing and immunology and through trial and error with many different asthma medications, her asthma is now coming under control.
Caitlyn has both allergic and exercise-induced asthma, a real test for someone as energetic as she. Her love of swimming, volleyball and cheerleading often triggered her asthma symptoms but by using her albuterol inhaler as directed, she excelled in all of these activities. Competitive, she likes to push the envelope but she has the sense to know when to stop, too, very valuable traits in any person.
Mature beyond her years, loved and respected by her fellow students as well as the faculty, Caitlyn was part of the John Ben Sheppard Leadership Forum and was elected to Who’s Who among American High School Students. She’s been accepted at Texas A&M University and will major in the Agriculture Science program with a goal of a teaching degree in Agricultural Science. She would also like to work as an advisor with the Future Farmers of America one day. In the future, she wants a family and a farm of her own. As Caitlyn says, “I am not going to let my asthma stop me from being in the environment I love.”
Lloyd V. Berkner High School, Richardson, Texas
Determined and of high moral character, Krystal is both insightful and an involved activist. She selects the most challenging classes available to her and is in the top seven percent of a very competitive class. She was just a young child when she learned the name of the disease that sent her repeatedly to the hospital and put her on a first name basis with her EMS rescuers. She was diagnosed with exercise induced asthma but like any kid who wanted to be just like their friends and play sports, she ignored her pediatrician’s restrictions and got involved with sports. Of course participation in sports robbed her of the ability to breathe, sending her back to the hospital in pain. Sometimes being stubborn isn’t wise, but Krystal has wisdom beyond her years. She decided if life gives you lemons, make lemonade. No self-pity for her: if she couldn’t participate in the sports in loved, she’d become a great sidelines fan and focus her energy on something else. That something else was science and music and they became her passions.
A bassist in the school Orchestra, she was also a member of the Chess Club and Student Council, the World Affairs Club, Girls Service Society, a volunteer for Lead America and was a People to People Student Ambassador. Besides these activities, Krystal is a Lieutenant in the JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps), has served as a community volunteer with the ALA, the American Heart Association, the Dog and Kitty Animal Shelter, the Marsalis Youth Usher Ministry and has been an intern in the Professional Internship Program.
A member of the National Honor Society, she won the school’s Outstanding Student Award and is in Who’s Who among America’s High School Students.
Soft-spoken and generous, she shines in science, winning award after award in her chosen field: 1st Place in Medicine and Health School wide, Grand Prize in Medicine and Health, Special Award from the US Army (regional award), and has participated and won prizes in Science Olympiads. Krystal’s goal is to study pulmonary pediatric medicine so she can develop new and more effective methods to help children conquer their asthma, just as she has. She realizes every person’s asthma is different and wants to improve the life of every child affected by this disease. Krystal will attend Amherst College in Massachusetts in the fall where she will take the first steps to becoming a pediatrician. With her quiet sense of humor, focus and drive, she will surely be a success.