Glenda Dawson High School graduate Kennedy Hoyt was awarded the National Society of High School Scholars’ Notorious RBG Women of Tomorrow Scholarship for her work in improving how special needs students are supported at Berry Miller Junior High in Pearland.

About the project

While a student at Berry Miller Junior High in Pearland, Hoyt said she served as a teacher’s aide in a life skills class for special needs students.

While supporting that classroom, Hoyt said she saw the teacher had to buy food for the class with her own money, which affected the quality and nutritional value of the food the students prepared and ate.

“[The teacher] always expressed how much ... she really wanted access to fruits and veggies and all these things, but she just didn't have access to it because, well, the school is not really giving her a stipend,” Hoyt said.

While the school administration has changed since Hoyt was a student, Pearland ISD officials confirmed that the schools do not provide teachers with stipends to purchase food for students.

Years later, as a high school student and Girl Scout, Hoyt decided to tackle this problem for her Girl Scouts Gold Award project.

The Gold Award is the Girl Scout’s most prestigious award and invites high school students to complete projects that make the world a better place, according to the Girl Scouts’ website.

Diving in deeper

Hoyt's project aimed to increase the accessibility of diverse and nutritious food for special needs students by raising awareness among educators and school administrators about the importance of funding their specific nutritional requirements.

Her project included leading a webinar and an in-person workshop for educators, as well as creating pamphlets for administrators on how they can educate others on nutrition and the importance of refraining from using ableist language in day-to-day life, according to a news release.

“I created a little pamphlet that I would give out to administrators that talks about ... the importance of being more inclusive, such as helping people be more accommodating in the cafeteria, so that [the teacher] wouldn't have to ... blend up their food or buy a bunch of veggies and fruits,” Hoyt said.

Some context

The award is named after former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was the first Jewish woman and the second woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court after Sandra Day O’Connor, according to the National Women’s History Museum.

Hoyt was awarded the Notorious RBG Scholarship worth $1,000 in November.

Looking ahead

Now a freshman at Spelman College in Atlanta, Hoyt is studying political science, and management and organization, and hopes to pursue a career in corporate law.