SAN ANTONIO – Congratulations class of 2020, it has not been an easy journey, and it was an unprecedented finish.
As a result, KSAT12′s Great Graduates series highlights local graduates who have gone above and beyond.
Shilpa Gunuganti, a recent Saint Mary’s Hall graduate, has not only won prestigious speech and debate awards but has also started a legal non-profit to help members of the community.
Gunuganti is one of the best high school competitors in the country, and it’s not just her family or her peers saying that.
Out of 140,000 people who qualify, the National Speech Association nominates only six individuals around the country to be selected as student of the year.
Shilpa was named as one of the nominees.
Gunuganti has also used her voice and her intellect to step up and help out the San Antonio community in a big way.
“It's called Legal Legacy Project,” Gunuganti said.
The project is a non-profit that connects volunteer lawyers or law firms and individuals seeking legal aid.
Shilpa and her team are dedicated to bringing together San Antonio’s legal community to help families and members of our community in their legal needs, as they help with everything from immigration to criminal cases.
"I think it’s important to go out to your community, see what’s going on, and really try to make an impact there because we hold a lot of power. I think a lot of young people don’t realize that homes in themselves, but we hold a lot of power to make change in our communities,” Shilpa said.
And the Legal Legacy Project is already doing just that, helping to make a real change.
“Well, we’ve helped I’d have to say in the hundreds. And the exact calculation for the amount of legal aid we provide, it is like $123,000,” Gunuganti said.
Shilpa’s hard work and philanthropic passion is being recognized.
“The Melissa Maxey Wade Social Justice award is given to the one student out of the thousands attending the tournament who had done something with their debate skills to help their community,” Shilpa said.
Her family could not be more proud.
“Since childhood she has been always trying to achieve more and more and use that to help others,” Vijay Gunuganti, Shilpa’s father said.
In the fall, Shilpa is set to be a Harvard student, but that doesn’t mean her community service ends.
“I hope to major in political science and economics. I think those two fields are really where i see my strengths, but also where I see myself making an impact in the future in the public sector and local government,” Shilpa said.