University View Academy selected its first-ever Student of the Year, and it is senior Ashlyn Thomas of Mandeville. Ms. Thomas is an exceptional student and beauty queen who has overcome disability. She was born with Spina Bifida and other health complications. She needs aids to walk and has undergone multiple surgeries. “I feel my disability has made me who I am today. It’s taught me a lot and made me wise beyond my years,” she explained. Ms. Thomas also says her condition has forced her out of her comfort zone, like competing for and winning the Very Special Miss Louisiana Queen pageant. The queens are disabled and represent the community at events throughout the state. Becoming a queen has led to sharpening her public speaking and advocacy skills and taking the initiative, all leadership qualities.
Ms. Thomas aspires to be a physical therapist since she says she knows first-hand how she could help someone recover, grow stronger, or reduce their pain.
Eligibility requirements were stiff to become Student of the Year for the 2020-2021 school term. Students must have been enrolled in the twelfth grade and be enrolled at UVA for at least the entire previous school year. They also must have earned a Cumulative Weighted GPA of 3.75 or higher, enrolled in at least eight AP/Dual Enrollment courses, scored Mastery or Advanced on all EOC/LEAP 2025 tests, and completed the ACT with a Composite Score of 27 or higher.
This year the selection process was open only to seniors. Other grade levels will be considered in the 2021-2022 school year.