Betty X Davis Young Writers of Merit Award

Austin SCBWI Betty X Davis AwardAustin SCBWI's Betty X. Davis Young Writers of Merit Award seeks to recognize budding writing talents and to spark enthusiasm for writing among young people. This award is named for Betty X. Davis, the oldest and most revered member of the Austin SBCWI community. Betty has judged many young people’s writing contests and believes these contests help them feel successful at writing, an important lifelong skill.

In 2013 Austin SCBWI created The Betty X. Davis Young Writers of Merit Award to honor Betty and one of her greatest passions: to support and develop a love for the written word within a child. Working in concert with the dynamic team of Creative Action’s professional teaching artists, Austin SCBWI established a program through which promising writers of various ages can be acknowledged for their talents.

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Lindsey Lane and Betty Davis

 

Each year, three young writers from Austin area elementary, middle and high schools are honored for their writing abilities. All winners receive a journal and gift certificate to BookPeople. The high school winner also receives a $500 scholarship, payable upon acceptance to a school for higher education or program of their choice. This award is presented annually at the Austin SCBWI conference. Special thanks to Lindsey Lane for overseeing this award from its inception. She is one of Betty's biggest fans.

 

 

The Betty X. Davis Young Writers of Merit Award is funded by Betty's generous family and outside donations. If you would like to donate, please click the button below:

 

Thank you!

Betty X. Davis

Betty X Davis, Meredith Davis and Cynthia Leitich Smith

Betty X. Davis (r.) with Austin SCBWI co-founders Meredith Davis (bottom l.) and Cynthia Leitich Smith

Betty X. Davis was born on Nov. 25, 1915, in Akron, Ohio. At age eleven, Betty decided she needed a middle name since her parents seemed satisfied with only a first and a last. One day, she announced she was Betty X. Test. Not too many years later, she wished for three things: to marry a lawyer, have eight children, become a movie star.  While the first two came true, the last one did not. However, her marriage to Harvey Davis did give her nominal kinship to a movie star of the same name. As for the “X,” she liked it so much she kept it even after she got married.

Betty graduated from Rollins College intending to become a Religious Education Director in an Episcopal Church. That goal was delayed for forty years. In between, she raised eight children, received two Masters degrees from Southern Methodist University in Dallas and became a public school speech therapist in Richardson, Texas. In 1981, she and her husband retired to Austin, Texas, to be surrounded by their children and grandchildren.

Always along her crowded path of life she wrote: letters, contests entries (won a couple), plays (produced, never published), a curriculum book for speech therapists (published in 1987), and stories (many were published). For Davis, writing and reading are as vital to her as breathing and family. Encouraging young people to write and express themselves through writing is critical to making this world a more thoughtful place. Which is why Betty dedicated herself to writing for children and judging writing contests for young people. When Spider Magazine published one of her stories in 2012, when she was 96, she felt joy. She wants all young people to feel that sense of joy when they write.

Read more about Betty in our interview.

Fun Facts

Betty X. Davis and Tim Crow

Betty X. Davis with former Austin SCBWI Regional Advisor Tim Crow

What is the secret to Betty X. Davis’s long life?

According to her children, here a few insights: She was happily married for sixty-nine years; she plays tennis twice a week and walks on the non-tennis days; she lives frugally and cooks from scratch; she lives with a passion for social justice and loves to write letters to the editor with her insightful, progressive viewpoints; she eats grapefruit once a day during the season.

How many children and grandchildren and great grandchildren does Betty have?

At last count, Betty has eight children, twelve grand children; ten great grand children and she loves them all.

Why is this award important?

Not only do awards like The Betty X. Davis Young Writers of Merit Award add to the vitality of the community and the sponsoring organizations, they honor the values of its namesake and keep them alive. Read thoughts from the winners themselves below…

 

 

Betty X Davis Young Writers of Merit Award Winners

 

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Annisa Clark

2017

High School Winner: Anissa Clark, senior at Cedar Ridge High School

“Winning this award has made me so much more confident in my writing. It was such an amazing experience to have people so much older than me compliment my writing and my voice and encourage me to continue. It's really helped me get through some tough writer's block, knowing there are people out there rooting for me." Anissa will be attending Texas Women's University in Denton, Texas. Read her winning piece

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Annisa Clark, Betty Davis, Elisa Diaz, and Lucy Sternberg

Middle School Winner: Elisa Diaz, seventh grader at Dailey Middle School

Elementary School Winner: Lucy Sternberg, third grader at Gullet Elementary School 

 

Gabrielle Lewis

Gabrielle Lewis

 

 

2016

High School Winner: Gabrielle Lewis, junior at Meridian World School in Round Rock

“I have loved writing and expressing my thoughts creatively for as long as I can remember. However, I often fall into the habit of comparing my poetry with those whom I consider more talented. I over analyze my own work and determine that if my poetry isn't as 'good' as that of other writers, than maybe I shouldn't be writing at all. Being recognized with the Betty X. Davis Young Writers of Merit Award was not only a great honor– it also helped me to realize my potential, that my writing does not have to be like everyone else's to be good. I have a voice that is distinctly my own, and because of this award, I feel confident enough to share that voice with the world.” –Gabrielle will be applying to colleges this year and is hoping to double major in theatre and creative writing. Read her winning piece

 

Middle School Winner: Keelin Bell, sixth grader at Dailey Middle School in Austin

Elementary School Winner: Maya McNeil Lopez, third grader at Ridgetop Elementary in Austin

Matthew Hernandez

Matthew Hernandez

 

2015 (partnered with BadgerDog this year)

Grand Prize: Matthew Hernandez, junior at Westlake High School

“To be honest, I merely went to creative writing camp to improve my writing. The other people I worked with were so good at writing, I am really surprised that I won.” –Mathew is pursuing his interest in engineering and is enrolled at University of Texas at San Antonio. Read his winning piece

Middle School Winner: Rafael Serrano, seventh grader at St. Theresa Catholic School

Elementary School Winner: Eric Haney, fourth grader at Lee Elementary

 

Vivienne Miller

Vivienne Miller

2014

High School Winner: Vivienne Miller, senior at Garza High School

“I can't even begin to explain the overwhelming joy I felt when I heard about winning first place. The piece that I had written was specifically for the contest and I grew to really love the short story that I had written. I had never submitted anything into a contest before but I am very grateful that I did. I am so honored that out of all the pieces that were submitted, mine was chosen for first place. Writing is a great, great passion of mine and to actually have some credit as a writer is a truly amazing feeling.” –After taking a gap year, Vivienne is enrolled at Austin Community College and taking a full undergraduate course load that includes Cultural Anthropology and Writing. Read her winning piece.

Middle School Winner: Erika De Los Santos, senior at Bowie High School (due to few middle school entries, a second high school entry was awarded)

Elementary School Winner: Parker DeLaune, fifth grader at Maplewood Elementary

 

2013

High School Winner: Anastaza Pack, senior at Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Anastaza Pack is attending Hill College in Hillsboro, Texas.

Middle School Winner: Crystal Gong, sixth grader from Lamar Middle School

Elementary School Winner: Krishna "Brittina" Gautam, third grader at Del Valle Elementary