BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — A Southern University Laboratory School junior received the gold Congressional Award, according to Southern officials.

The award, established in 1979, is the highest honor a youth civilian can achieve through the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, according to a news release from Southern. To receive the award, 400 hours of voluntary public service, 200 hours of personal development, 200 hours of physical fitness, and a five-day exploration. 

Out of thousands of recipients, only 84 have been from Louisiana.

“Receiving this award is truly an honor,” Kelsie Tillage said. “More importantly, I hope to inspire others to be more involved in their communities to elevate themselves and those around them.” 

“In addition to maintaining a 4.29 GPA at Southern Lab, Kelsie is dually enrolled in Southern University honors and AP courses,” said Southern in a news release. “She is a member of the Southern Lab Student Government Association, and has been a member of the varsity and club volleyball teams. Kelsie has also been named student of the year in her district and earned the Duke Tip Scholar, John Hopkins CTY, and the Jacqueline Moore Bowles Leadership Awards.”

“I hope that receiving this award allows me to broaden my reach in my endeavors to create and explore,” said Kelsie, who has studied in South Africa.

She has been inspired to create her own anthology after being published in one. She says “Unpopular Opinions” is set to be released in the summer.