Vinay Konuru

2019 – FLORIDA (TAMPA REGION)

Vinay Konuru is a junior at Pine View School for the Gifted and Talented in Osprey. While his school has been consistently ranked among the top ten public schools in the nation, it has very little diversity. This leaves students from 2nd-12th grade to grow up with very little opportunity to have any interaction with students of color. There are fewer than 20 African American students in the entire student body of 2000 (less than 1%), while the school's surrounding community has a student population that is nearly 20% African American. This underrepresentation has persisted since the school’s inception fifty years ago. Vinay discussed this issue with teachers and school board officials and formed a task force called DiGS to address it. Since 8th grade, he has been bringing focus to this problem by holding group discussions, conducting student surveys, and hosting presentations, as well as writing articles and making YouTube videos about the issue. He also developed a smartphone app to give a diversity score to any school, based on its student demographics. Vinay is organizing a community workshop on the importance of racial diversity in gifted education, inviting nationally renowned education researchers and alumni of the school to speak. The school board has started conducting a universal screening program to identify minority gifted students in larger numbers. DiGS is speaking with parents of the identified gifted children from this program to share personal experiences and help them in making the transition to the school. While a significant increase in minority enrollment may take years, there is already a considerable attitude change within the community.