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Madison Metropolitan School District

Awa Phatty

Before matriculating to UW-Madison next fall to study neuroscience and urban development, Memorial scholar Awa Phatty is wrapping up her senior year as Memorial’s Black Student Union president, a successful AVID and Advanced Learning student, and track and field teammate.

As BSU president, Phatty organized a number of impactful events, including a school visit by Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, a children’s book fair for local Black youth, and student-led protests.

“My most proud moment was my senior year, when we had a walk out to raise awareness for sexual assault,” Phatty said. “I was just so proud to see the turn out and to know that people care and are willing to move towards change.”

Within the classroom, Phatty excelled in AVID, a research-based education program that prepares all students for college, career, and community readiness alongside the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. 

When mental health struggles challenged Phatty’s drive for academic and athletic success, the lessons she learned on the track and field team supported her.

“Track has taught me a lot of life lessons, because it truly is a sport of pain and hard work and it’s taught me not to give up on myself just because I’m tired or in pain, that everything will be worth it in the end,” Phatty said. “You have to continue to be resilient to get the outcomes you want in the end, and that is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.” 

With every success Phatty has achieved throughout her time in MMSD, she immediately pairs it with the teachers and coaches that supported her: Her middle school teachers Abigail Mannenbach and Mrs. Sal, track coach Drew Slempkes, AVID teacher Elizabeth Paker, Multicultural Services Coordinator Andrea Jones, history teacher Catherine Patton, Restorative Justice Coach Anthony Ward, English teacher Ms. Guse, and many more.

“Honestly, I love and appreciate all my teachers and they’ve all played a huge role in the person I am today, and I could go on and on about so many teachers who have impacted my life in a great way,” Phatty said. “They really have shaped who I am today and I am immensely grateful for that.”