General, Stories,

Senior Spotlight 2024

By First Dallas Staff

Dear Graduating Class of 2024, 

On behalf of First Baptist Dallas, I want to congratulate you on your high school graduation. We are so proud of you! It has been my honor to know you and serve as your student minister. Whether we have known each other since you were in seventh grade or we just got to know each other your senior year, please know that having the privilege of walking alongside you as you have grown in your relationship with Christ has been an absolute joy. 

As you think about the relationships you have built and the experiences you had in First Dallas Students, I want to challenge you to use them in your next chapter in life. Isaiah 30:21 says, “Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” The Spirit will bring to your memory bible verses, small group leaders, and experiences at student events that will point you in the direction of God’s will for your life. 

Finally, you are loved and you are valued by the Lord and by your church. You will do great things in the kingdom of God wherever He leads you. I am praying for you and I will always be in your corner. 

In Christ, Ryan Sadler

Meet Our Seniors!

Jackson Badgley

  • High School: Forney High School 
  • Future Plans: I plan on attending Mississippi College.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”James 1:5
  • Most Memorable Moment: Learning under great Bible teachers!
  • Funny Memory: I remember playing basketball against Thad at camp.
  • Spiritual Growth: I learned so much Bible knowledge that has really helped me in my Christian walk.
  • Best Advice: According to James 1:5, Scripture says to ask God for wisdom each day.


Elizabeth Brinkley

  • High School: Homeschool
  • Future Plans: To attend UT Austin and major in Special Education!
  • Favorite Bible Verse: “Also, we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.”Ephesians 1:11
  • Most Memorable Moment: Definitely the Belize Mission trip in 2019!!!
  • Funny Memory: Definitely every time we would dress up! Whether it was for camp, student choir, or Halloween costume competition!
  • Spiritual Growth: I grew so much!! First Dallas students showed me just how big God’s love for me is!
  • Best Advice: Always remember who you belong to; you are a part of God’s creation!


Logan Castillo

  • High School: Allen High School
  • Future Plans: Attend Collin College, then the University of North Texas.
  • Favorite Bible Verses: “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” –1 Corinthians 13:4-7
  • Most Memorable Moment: When I rededicated my life on the San Antonio mission trip with Mrs. Arlette.
  • Funny Memory: Ryan and Thad playing Uno on the bus, any time Davin mugs were pulled out, and Jared thinking Anna and I were legitimate twins.
  • Spiritual Growth: I learned how to go into the world boldly and spread the gospel at ease rather than staying cooped up before seventh grade.
  • Best Advice: Go to any and all events, even if you initially wouldn’t want to. Many don’t get this kind of church experience and most memories you could make wouldn’t happen without these trips.


Jake Cullen

  • High School: Homeschool 
  • Future Plans: Attend Liberty University.
  • Favorite Bible Verses: “That, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” –Ephesians 4:22-24
  • Most Memorable Moment: The Mission Trip San Antonio. 
  • Funny Memory: Watching Ryan and Thad lose at UNO to John Stephen.
  • Spiritual Growth: God challenged me to tackle big questions about the faith and the future. That grew me.
  • Best Advice: Slow down and abide. 


Zachariah Donaldson

  • High School: Homeschool
  • Future Plans: Work Full-Time
  • Favorite Bible Verse: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”John 3:16
  • Most Memorable Moment: I won’t ever forget playing basketball in the gym with friends!
  • Funny Memory: Thad’s jokes! 
  • Spiritual Growth: I grew spiritually in my life by having consistent biblical teaching at First Dallas!
  • Best Advice: Enjoy your time! It goes fast!


Amaya Escanuela

  • High School: UME Preparatory Academy
  • Future Plans: Next year, I plan on attending college and majoring in Criminology with a minor in Psychology.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.”Psalm 4:8
  • Most Memorable Moment: My most memorable moment would be coming to the Sugar events.
  • Funny Memory: One of my funniest memories would have to be the week of Vacation Bible School, when I was able to watch the little kids at the bouncy houses; they always say the funniest things.
  • Spiritual Growth: I was able to better understand in small groups, and I could ask questions whenever I did not understand what was being taught.
  • Best Advice: To enjoy life and never lose faith.


Stephen La Due

  • High School: Homeschool
  • Future Plans: Go to college and study aviation. 
  • Favorite Bible Verse:Yet those who wait for the LORD; will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”Isaiah 40:31
  • Most Memorable Moment: The bus ride to and from Camp 2023.
  • Funny Memory: Thad was laughing so hard he had to take a Tylenol while playing UNO with Ryan and me.
  • Spiritual Growth: I learned the importance of prayer, and my walk with God grew closer.
  • Best Advice: Never take your time in the Student Ministry or choir for granted. The first time you realize that you don’t have very long left, you will wish that you could stay in it for a long time.
  • Special Thanks: Thank you to Gabe, Davin, Thad, Ryan, Jared, Daira, Caden, and Taylor for being great leaders and teachers. You have all helped me grow as a person and a Christian.


Alexa Larue

  • High School: Grace Preparatory Academy
  • Future Plans: Attend Baylor University and double major in apparel merchandising and apparel design.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: “Praise the LORD, all nations; laud Him, all peoples! For His lovingkindness is great toward us, and the truth of the LORD is everlasting. Praise the LORD!” –Psalm 117
  • Most Memorable Moment: Helping teach 4th grade during VBS.
  • Funny Memory: Thanksgiving at the Avenue 2023.
  • Spiritual Growth: First Dallas Students has taught me so much about the Lord! The staff and leaders have taught me how to have a personal relationship with God.
  • Best Advice: Go to all the events!! They’re so fun!


Hava Leite

  • High School: Homeschool
  • Future Plans: Attend college at Ouachita University.
  • Favorite Bible Verses: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you. But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”Micah 6:8 | “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”Isaiah 53:3
  • Most Memorable Moment: The Belize mission trip! 
  • Funny Memory: When we accidentally locked one of my roommates out of our room in San Antonio.
  • Spiritual Growth: I have matured and grown simply by being around people who have pushed me to know God better.
  • Best Advice: This too shall pass, no matter what’s going on or how you feel, and you should cling and grasp what is true.


Troy Liverman

  • High School: Marcus High School
  • Future Plans: Attend DBU for their collegiate fishing team.
  • Favorite Bible Verses: “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”Matthew 24:13
  • Most Memorable Moment: Attending summer camp at Mt. Lebanon.
  • Funny Memory: When we were playing basketball ball in the gym, a ball bounced off of someone’s head and made the funniest “toonk” noise ever.
  • Spiritual Growth: I have met the Lord and grown in my relationship with Him in my time at First Dallas students. I went from not even understanding what the Bible was to daily walking with the Lord and following in the path He lays out for me.
  • Best Advice: Know your value and do not let others control you and go to every summer camp.


Ashlyn Nichols

  • High School: Homeschool
  • Future Plans: Pursuing either a graphic design, communications, or business associate’s at Collin College, then moving on to a bachelor’s somewhere else!!
  • Favorite Bible Verse: “Yet those who wait for the LORD; will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”Isaiah 40:31
  • Most Memorable Moment: I would definitely have to say the most memorable time I’ve had in Students was the San Antonio mission trip; I have never had more fun on a trip and made so many fun memories!!
  • Funny Memory: It was definitely when I had to drink the blended-up Chick-fil-A for a game…ew!
  • Spiritual Growth: I got to meet all my mentors through students. They helped me with any advice, guidance, and encouragement I needed. That helped me discover my calling and lean more to God when I’m going through hard things.
  • Best Advice: Enjoy your time with Students. It feels like you’ve been in it for so long while you’re there, but now that I’m leaving, I wish I had more time and could stay forever!! Also, join a group where you can serve!! That made my experience so much more fun, and I learned many life skills from them!! 
  • Special Thanks: Thank you so much for every opportunity I had during my time in Students. I truly would not be who I am, and I would not know all that I know without you. I am going to miss you SO MUCH. I don’t think I can even express how much! I love each and every one of you!!!


Laura Paschall


  • High School: Homeschool
  • Future Plans: I am moving to Mississippi to train with Ballet Magnificat!
  • Favorite Bible Verse: “The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.”Exodus 14:14
  • Most Memorable Moment: My 7th grade Limitless Weekend that was hosted at my house!
  • Funny Memory: Falling off the dolly as an Elf in the Christmas Spectacular program. 
  • Spiritual Growth: First Dallas Students taught me to be bold in my faith.
  • Best Advice: Be bold in your faith and in the calling the Lord places on your life, and don’t let worldly desires distract you from focusing your eyes on the Lord.


Simone Salazar

  • High School: Reagan High School
  • Future Plans: Attending the University of Missouri for Broadcast Journalism.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written. The days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”Psalm 139:14-16
  • Most Memorable Moment: Our little lunches with Daira are at Southlake Town Square.
  • Funny Memory: Gab Salazar!
  • Spiritual Growth: I definitely see a difference in my understanding of the Bible compared to before! Being around so many people who are biblically knowledgeable allowed me to grow my overall knowledge of my walk with Christ!!
  • Best Advice: Don’t dwell on what you can’t change!


Savannah Seelye

  • High School: Homeschool
  • Future Plans: I plan on going to cosmetology school.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:12
  • Most Memorable Moment: Attending either the camps or VBS.
  • Funny Memory: Being around my friend, Ava!
  • Spiritual Growth: I grew spiritually, thanks to my leaders and my friends.
  • Best Advice: Involve yourself and make friends; it makes it so much more fun.


Donald Smith

  • High School: Booker T Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts
  • Future Plans: I’m studying viola performance and jazz piano at Oberlin Music Conservatory.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!” Psalms 57:7
  • Most Memorable Moment: The most memorable moment of my time at First Dallas students was Beach Week in 7th grade. It stands out because I felt an especially close connection with God during that time, and I was surrounded by a supportive friend group who shared similar connections with God.
  • Funny Memory: One of the funniest moments I’ve ever experienced at FD students is during a Christmas game between high school and junior high. Junior high won the game, so a friend got to smash a pie in Pastor Ryan’s face. Gabe Salazar, being the great sport that he is, also allowed a high school student to smash a pie in his face. The whole setup was like a scene out of a comedy sketch, and seeing their reactions was priceless. It’s a memory that still makes me laugh whenever I think about it.
  • Spiritual Growth: During my time at FD students, I grew a lot spiritually, especially when dealing with typical high school stuff like peer pressure and people judging my beliefs. It wasn’t always easy, but being a part of such a supportive community has helped me stay true to myself and my Christian beliefs. With the help of mentors and friends who shared my values, I learned how to stand up for what I believe in and not give in to peer pressure. Even though it was tough, these challenges made me stronger and more certain of who I am. FD students have been a safe place to figure out my faith without feeling judged, and it made me realize the importance of staying true to what I believe in, no matter what.
  • Best Advice: I’d like to share with the younger students to be yourself. When I’m truly myself—quirks, passions, and all—I feel more connected spiritually. It’s not always easy, especially when there’s pressure to fit in, but being genuine brings a sense of peace and purpose. I believe that by embracing my true self, I get closer to understanding and experiencing God’s love and plans for me.


Ethan Sonko

  • High School: Harmony Science Academy—Euless
  • Future Plans: Start college, make new friends, grow closer to God!
  • Favorite Bible Verse: “It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.”Psalm 18:32
  • Most Memorable Moment: The Student Worship mission trip in San Diego was a memorable time for me. It was an amazing experience that I won’t forget.
  • Funny Memory: I went to Six Flags with my buddies for a First Dallas Student event, and we decided to check out the haunted house. As soon as we entered, we all screamed like little girls. The dimly lit corridors, the crazy props, and sudden jump scares had us running through the whole thing. We were probably the loudest group in there. It was a terrifying and funny experience at the same time!
  • Spiritual Growth: I have to say that going to summer camps has been a big change in my spiritual journey. Being around people who share my faith has made a huge difference in my relationship with God. It’s like I’m part of a community of believers, and it’s helped me to get even closer to God. We had daily worship, Bible study, and some really deep conversations with each other. All of that has made me grow so much spiritually. I’m just so grateful for these camps and the amazing opportunity to connect with God in such a meaningful way.
  • Best Advice: Whenever you face a challenging situation, remember that it’s a test from God and an opportunity to share your testimony with others. So stay strong and don’t give up!


Ariel Surjawinata

  • High School: Homeschool 
  • Future Plans: Entering a university to study Speech Pathology
  • Favorite Bible Verses: “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and marked off the heavens by the span, and calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills in a pair of scales? Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge and informed Him of the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust. Even Lebanon is not enough to burn, nor its beasts enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before Him. They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.”Isaiah 40:12-17
  • Most Memorable Moment: I remember the first time I came to a small group with Mrs. Pulley and being so convicted by her obvious passion and dedication to the Lord. My family was looking for a church at that time, and by the time I walked out of that room, I knew this was the place God wanted me to be, where I could grow.
  • Funny Memory: During this year’s Sugar Passport event, I failed to stifle my laugh as I sat in the makeshift airplane, seeing Mrs. Stephanie come down the aisle with a little cart of biscuits and drinks. Its so endearing how the church staff puts so much effort into the youth events, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the way our Horner building had been transformed into the London scene. It’s a wonderful memory for me, meeting new friends and joining the activities.
  • Spiritual Growth: Since attending the Student Ministry, I have gained a fresh motivation to grow closer to the Lord, whether that be through praying more, doing devotionals, or just requesting my family to attend church events. Reserving a quiet time for the Lord and keeping him my priority has always been a struggle over the years, but sharing a space with dedicated Christians at First Dallas has definitely renewed my spirit.
  • Best Advice: I admittedly have not been at this church for a long time as others have, but I see the importance of a mentor. Find someone you trust, who inspires you, grows you, and can confront you in your mistakes. It is so helpful to have a mentor like that outside of your family circle, as they have a different perspective on you as a person and can view your situation clearer without a strong bias.
  • Special Thanks: To my fellow senior girls, Mrs Stephanie and Mrs Holly, I love you all! May God bless and guide you all in the future.


Layla Teague

  • High School: Homeschool (Abeka Academy)
  • Future Plans: Attend Collin College Wylie.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”Galatians 1:10
  • Most Memorable Moment: When I attended the Mt. Lebanon church camp going into my sophomore year!
  • Funny Memory: At our Glorieta Church camp, when Natalee, Gracie, and I played bubble soccer, and we kept falling over! 
  • Spiritual Growth: First Dallas Students has helped me grow spiritually by having great leaders who are so encouraging through my walk of faith!
  • Best Advice: My advice to younger students is don’t let other people shame you for abiding by God’s word! Living for God is the healthiest thing you can do and will make you the happiest!


Eugene Tremblay

  • High School: Bishop Lynch
  • Future Plans: Major in English and Finance and minor in Biblical Studies
  • Favorite Bible Verse: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. ‘For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place.’”Isaiah 43:2-3
  • Most Memorable Moment: I won’t forget getting baptized.
  • Funny Memory: Having a snowball fight down by the water fountain.
  • Spiritual Growth: Going on trips with the church in the summer and volunteering at VBS.
  • Best Advice: Keep God first in your life and read your Bible as much as possible
  • Special Thanks: Thank you, Ryan, for being such a great role model to me. I strive to be like you someday.


Anna Valle

  • High School: Homeschool 
  • Future Plans: Attend Criswell College and major in Education.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him.”Nahum 1:7
  • Most Memorable Moment: While we were in Glorieta, New Mexico, one night, we all got an announcement saying that the camp we were staying at would host a talent show. Originally, I wasn’t going to do anything, but after talking to two of my friends, we decided to audition and show off our Bible drill skills. So, the next day, the three of us went to the audition, and everyone LOVED our miniature drill. A few people thought we had trick bibles because they couldn’t believe how fast we were finding verses. We got lots of compliments after our audition, and I had people come up to me all week after seeing us.
  • Funny Memory: After a long day in California, my roommates and I headed back to our room. We got our schedule in order for the night, and one of my friends took a shower. The rest of us hung out watching TV. After a few minutes of watching TV, I noticed that one of my friends was acting a little strange. I asked her if she was okay, and she insisted on being fine. After about a minute, I asked her again, and she said, “Yeah, no, I’m fine,” and then let out a loud gag noise. We tried to get her to the bathroom but remembered our other friend was still in there. She ended up going to our leader’s room and throwing up there, and when she came back, she made a public announcement that she had thrown up.
  • Spiritual Growth: With the people I surround myself with! Everyone in my friend group has such a love for the Lord, and it’s so encouraging being around them and just knowing that I have friends whom I can pray with, ask questions about verses, have Bible studies with, witness together, and pour into each other.
  • Best Advice: MEMORIZE AND STUDY GOD’S WORD! I grew up doing Bible drill, and something I’ll remember forever is when one of my teachers told me that memorizing verses is one thing, but studying it and applying it to your life is another thing. Yes, memorizing is nice, but what’s memorizing something without applying it? Think about it. When you learn something, you usually don’t learn it and never use it. Like when you learn how to play an instrument, you don’t just learn it and then leave your instrument in the corner of your room to collect dust. It’s useless if you do that. You PLAY it! You show people what you’ve learned. The same goes for memorizing Scripture. You memorize God’s word, and you WILL talk about it. I’ve memorized roughly around 600 verses through Bible drill, and they’ve come in handy when having conversations with nonbelievers or even believers. I’m able to share what Scripture says about certain situations that people may be going through in their lives, and I’m able to use it as encouragement. Not only can scripture be an encouragement to the people around you, but it will encourage you! I find so much joy in studying and memorizing God’s words that I HIGHLY encourage you to do the same.


Andrew Wisley

  • High School: Homeschool
  • Future Plans: Attend Liberty University.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”Galatians 2:20
  • Most Memorable Moment: Going on the San Antonio Mission Trip.
  • Funny Memory: When a youth pastor preached that “we must stand on what is white.”
  • Spiritual Growth: I learned to trust God and follow Him in everything.
  • Best Advice: High school is way faster than you think.


Christian Xayasith

  • High School: Texas Connections Academy
  • Future Plans: Gap year
  • Favorite Bible Verse: “And to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.”1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
  • Most Memorable Moment: The Student Camp trips. 
  • Funny Memory: The transportation in the Bahamas. 
  • Spiritual Growth: It helped me find my calling to serve in the church and has helped me strive to serve both in and outside the church.
  • Best Advice: High school is way faster than you think. Don’t let anyone push you away from the Student Ministry or the church as well as serving.


Brandon Zachary

  • High School: John Horn Highschool
  • Future Plans: Attend Grambling State University and major in Mass Communication while performing in the world fame marching band. 
  • Favorite Bible Verse: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”Proverbs 3:5–6
  • Most Memorable Moment: We slept in sandy bunk beds during beach camp in 7th grade, but I also built new connections.
  • Funny Memory: Getting drenched in the rain coming back from Klyde Warren Park on Palm Sunday.
  • Spiritual Growth: I grew as a person and got closer to God. I’m going daily devotionals, praying, and worshipping with a better connection, and looking to help at homeless shelters and around the community more.
  • Best Advice: Take stuff a step a time and don’t rush. Time goes by fast!