McNair Academic High School continues to produce national award winners. The latest is French-born Rayana Ba, who along with her teacher, Sundoes Elbery, are to become part of the 2024 Bezos Scholars Program cohort.

“I’m excited to be a Scholar to bring real positive change to my diverse community and look forward to meeting my fellow scholars and learning about them and their ideas” said Ba, who moved from France to the United States when she was six.

Ba will be going on an all-expenses paid trip to the Aspen Ideas Festival, where she and other students will engage in leadership training, panel discussions and conversations with global leaders. Ba will then be tasked with launching a sustainable community change project to transform her community.

Thus far, Scholar projects have addressed the climate crisis, gender and education equality, financial literacy, and advocating for historically oppressed and underrepresented communities to have better and more access to opportunities. Since the program’s inception, more than 200 projects have been launched by Scholars.

Ba is the president of McNair's French Honor Society and vice president of the Spanish club. She says she is passionate about addressing food insecurity, believing that access to healthy food is an inherent human right. She loves writing and playing soccer and wants to visit every continent before age 30.

Ba will be joined by her teacher Sundoes Elbery, a McNair educator. Elbery is a doctoral student in the Educational Leadership for Higher Education program at Saint Peter’s University. Understanding the transformative power of travel, she has led student trips to Europe, Belize, Japan, and Peru. Elbery was originally a student Scholar in 2011 and is the second Scholar in program history to return later and serve as an educator.