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CVHS Senior Awarded $25,000 for her Writing



Jaelynn Walls to be Awarded $25,000 as a 2016 Davidson Fellow



Reno, Nev. – The Davidson Institute of Talent Development has announced the 2016 Davidson Fellows. Among the honorees is 17-year-old Jaelynn Walls of Pearland, Texas. Walls won a $25,000 Davidson Fellows Scholarship for her project, Humanity On-Screen: Engendering Positive Self-Perception and Political Activism in Persons With Marginalized Identities. She is one of only 20 students from across the country to receive this honor.

“Being a Davidson Fellow means joining the ranks of an amazing community of incredibly talented young people,” said Walls. “It means being enabled to pursue what I’m passionate about in a scholarly fashion.”

Walls' project is a portfolio of writing portraying positive depictions of young people of marginalized identities based off racial, gender, and cultural markers. A lifelong lover of literature, Walls grew up reading only about characters that she couldn’t identify with. She was inspired to present characters of marginalized racial and cultural backgrounds in a positive light to balance the Eurocentric treatment or omission of characters that aren’t white or male. 



Jaelynn Walls

$25,000 Scholarship Recipient

Age: 17
Pearland, TX
Category: Literature
Project Title: Humanity On-Screen: Engendering Positive Self-Perception and Political Activism in Persons With Marginalized Identities 


Public media, specifically film, can be an outlet in which young people can seek visibility and relatable narrative. The conflict comes when that public representation is all but nonexistent. Starving young people existing under marginalized cultural, social, and gender identities of role models and public representation can be detrimental to the self-worth and political concern of said youths. The work in this portfolio aims to provide that representation in a positive and insightful way.




Jaelynn Walls is a 17-year-old senior at Carnegie Vanguard High School, a magnet public school, in Houston, TX.

For Jaelynn, being a Davidson Fellow means joining the ranks of an amazing community of incredibly talented young people. It means being enabled to pursue what she’s passionate about in a scholarly fashion.

Jaelynn’s project is a portfolio of writing surrounding the theme of marginalized identities, specifically those of teenagers. The marginalization discussed throughout the portfolio manifests in many different forms, be it social, cultural, gender or race based. The representation brought about in her writing is extremely important in the context of coming of age in a eurocentric media focused America. Not representing certain youth is not only saying that the people that they can relate to do not exist, but also that they do not matter.

Jaelynn was prompted to create this project by the personal effects of not having characters to identify with as a young person very deeply in love with literature. Wanting to help other young people avoid the searching for work that quite often was presented in a stereotyped or patronizing manner was the basis for the creation of her project.

Jaelynn believes her work can improve the lives of young people searching for representation. She thinks that as a young person with the ability to write, it is her responsibility to incite change and provide exposure to historically underrepresented groups in literature. By acknowledging certain groups, she is dismissing the idea that if you don’t fit into a certain identity you have to be hidden away or banished to the land of misrepresented stereotypes.

Outside of school, Jaelynn is interested in screenwriting, playwriting, comparative literature, bad films, great films, chamber music, the Black Experience in modern America, contemporary poetry, thrift shopping, and countercultures throughout history. She was recently honored with 1st place in Princeton University’s Ten-Minute Play Competition. She was also recently awarded a National Scholastic American Voices Award for a personal essay. For extracurriculars, Jaelynn participates in Houston Chamber Choir, an all girls traveling chamber choir. She also participates with the Writers in the Schools’ Youth Advisory Council which puts together writing related events for young people in the Houston area. Jaelynn volunteers on weekends at The Beacon, a homeless shelter in Houston.