Senior Spotlight

By First Dallas Staff

Dear Graduating Class of 2022, 

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!

Samara Andrango

  • High School: Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy
  • Future Plans: Major in Architecture at the University of Texas Arlington.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: Proverbs 29:18—Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.
  • Most Memorable Moment: Attending summer camp in 2017 allowed me to let God into my heart. This experience ultimately led me to dedicate my life to Him.
  • Funny Memory: Playing sports in the gym. Students would always get really competitive!
  • Spiritual Growth: I attended as many student events as possible, joined the community orchestra, and then the main orchestra a couple of months later.
  • Advice to Students: Don’t be afraid to seek guidance from your leaders. They truly care for you and will try their best to help you!
  • Shoutout: Thank you Dr. Hardin and orchestra members for allowing me to play with you this past year. My music abilities and faith have grown because of you.


Riley Ash

  • High School: Carroll Senior High School
  • Future Plans: Attend Baylor University.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: Psalms 40:1-2—I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
  • Most Memorable Moment: Tyler Brinson participating in our dance party in Belize! It was our first week with him and we all had a lot of fun.
  • Funny Memory: Creating skits with our teams at Beach Camps. My group always came up with funny ideas and one year we did a biblical adaptation of Shrek!
  • Spiritual Growth: I learned how to minister to those around me whether that be at school or on mission trips. I’ve learned how to confidently share the gospel and feel spiritually prepared for college!
  • Advice to Students: Learn everything you can while you are in high school. The more you participate, the more fun you will have and the more prepared you will be going into the next chapter of life.


Ava Braun

  • High School: Homeschool
  • Future Plans: Next school year, I plan on attending College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri, to pursue my God-given dream of being a medical missionary.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: Romans 1:16-17—For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, But the righteous man shall live by faith.
  • Most Memorable Moment: One of my most memorable moments happened during the LIMITLESS weekend. It was Saturday afternoon, and my group, the 11th and 12th-grade girls, was out doing the scavenger hunt that was required for that day. One of the “items” on the scavenger hunt was to share the gospel with someone. My group shared the gospel with three people, one of them was deaf. One of the girls in my group knew sign language and along with the help of another student, that girl was able to share the gospel in sign language. It just goes to show you “who” we serve!
  • Funny Memory: One of the funniest moments was watching some of the students and a church leader eat a snickle (a snicker’s inside of a pickle). It was the most disgusting and hilarious games I have ever watched!
  • Spiritual Growth: I have not been attending First Dallas Students for very long, but one of the many things I have noticed is that the pastors and leaders have a desire to equip us with the tools that we need to go out and share the gospel. I have always KNOWN that the gospel needs to be shared with others, but First Dallas Students has made me really WANT to share the gospel with others more.
  • Advice to Students: Psalm 37:4-5 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” If there is one thing that I have learned in the short time I have been attending First Dallas, it’s that if you simply follow God’s Word and delight in what He calls you to do, He will bless you. The journey will be hard, but the destination is worth it!
  • Shoutout: I want to thank First Dallas for standing on the truth of God’s Word, preaching the bible, and not spreading the world’s viewpoints.


Valeria Facundo

  • High School: Trinidad Garza Early College High School
  • Future Plans: Attend the University of Texas at Dallas.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: Isaiah 41:10—Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
  • Most Memorable Moment: Attending Sugar.
  • Spiritual Growth: I have learned that I can always talk to God about everything and anything because He knows what we need before we ask. I have also grown stronger in my prayer life.


Elliott Hardin

  • High School: Mansfield High School
  • Future Plans: Attending UT Arlington for Jazz Studies and Mechanical Engineering.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: Proverbs 20:1—Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, And whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise.
  • Most Memorable Moment: My most memorable moment at FD Students was Beach Camp 2019. That year I met new people and grew closer to the friends I already had. It was such an amazing time to grow closer to God and to establish habits of getting into the Word.
  • Funny Memory: During the San Antonio mission trip Caden Bunch and I were plotting ways we could wake up the two other people in the room, so I said “we should play some Mexican mariachi music.” We looked up on Spotify and played a song called “La Bota.” We played it and started dancing to wake them up and we got a pretty good laugh. Soon enough the song became a staple of the trip for the entire student ministry.
  • Spiritual Growth: During the 2021 Mission Trip I grew spiritually through guidance. My chaperone went into the Gospel thoroughly and challenged us every day to share it with at least one person. This trip was fun because I witnessed to a lot of people and even saw people get saved.
  • Advice to Students: Build good relationships with your Sunday school teachers because they are some of the wisest people you will meet. They will guide you through hard times and teach you during the good times. That is something that I wish I did sooner but it has helped me regardless
  • Shoutout: The student ministry has been a huge part of my life and I would like to thank Ryan, Davin, my Sunday school teachers, and everyone who has volunteered for the youth ministry for teaching me and helping me build my life on a solid rock.


Gracie Lane

  • High School: Highland Park High School
  • Future Plans: Major in Elementary Education at Dallas Baptist University.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: John 14:27—Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
  • Most Memorable Moment: Summer camp was so much fun last summer! I made so many new friends!
  • Funny Memory: Running around downtown doing a scavenger hunt on a LIMITLESS weekend.
  • Spiritual Growth: Learning how to practically share God’s word has been so helpful.
  • Advice to Students: Go to summer camp! You’ll form such amazing relationships with the people you go to church with.


Macy LeCroy

  • High School: Covenant Christian Academy Colleyville
  • Future Plans: Major in Psychology at Texas Christian University.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: Job 33:29-30—Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life.
  • Most Memorable Moment: When my brother, Myles, and I were all baptized at Beach Camp.
  • Funny Memory: Singing in a karaoke competition while we were on a bus during the Belize Mission Trip!
  • Spiritual Growth: Learning how to practically share God’s word has been instrumental.
  • Advice to Students: Do not be afraid to invite friends from school to church. Meshing friend groups can feel intimidating, but it could make a difference in someone’s life.
  • Shoutout: I’m gonna miss Students!!!


Mansfield Yiu

  • High School: North Forney High School
  • Future Plans: Starting my freshman year at Lee University in Cleveland Tennessee.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: Romans 12:2—And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
  • Most Memorable Moment: Walking through the fourth floor of Horner Family Center for the first time. I was overwhelmed by how grand everything was.
  • Funny Memory: To be honest, I don’t remember what it was we were talking about but Thad couldn’t stop laughing in small group. It was hilarious and contagious. Also all of Thad’s names—Plaid Thad, Ironclad Thad, Mad Thad, Granddad Thad, Sad Thad, Dad Thad, Bad Thad, Grad Thad, Glad Thad, Undergrad Thad…
  • Spiritual Growth: Before coming here, I wasn’t even 100% sure that my life was going to end with my soul going to heaven. Now, I do. 100%.
  • Advice to Students: Get connected and go to camp and the mission trips if possible. The people you’ll meet here will change your life.
  • Shoutout: I love you all at FBD.


Jonathan Marks

  • High School: Grace Preparatory Academy
  • Future Plans: Attend Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: Philippians 4:13—I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
  • Most Memorable Moment: Zip-lining in Belize on the Youth Mission Trip
  • Funny Memory: La Bota on the San Antonio Mission Trip. “Nuff said.”
  • Spiritual Growth: I practiced sharing my faith on a mission trip to Belize. My Youth Sunday School teacher, Dr. Sedgewick has shown me the key to building a strong Bible Study and prayer life. Plus, I have learned how the Bible applies to my life through Dr. Jeffress’ weekly preaching.
  • Advice to Students: Don’t make youth group an obligation, get involved!


Emma Stoy

  • High School: Forney High School
  • Future Plans: Attending Baylor University in the Fall.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: John 16:33—I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; l have overcome the world.
  • Most Memorable Moment: Bringing my Catholic friend with me to one of the Legacy nights at White Rock Lake was incredibly memorable. After that event, she stopped attending the Catholic church and became a member here at First Dallas. This happened just a few months before her entire family—mom, dad, and sister were killed in a car accident. I fully believe her coming with me that night set her on the path to salvation, which in turn was the only way she’s been able to survive and thrive in the midst of such tragedy.
  • Funny Memory: One year at beach camp, we had to perform skits. One group performed a skit and instructed everyone to “clap for Julia.” For the remainder of the year, any time announcements were made, the phrase “clap for Julia” was included.
  • Spiritual Growth: Attending virtual Sunday School and worship services during quarantine confirmed the fact that I can find comfort and support in my church family. It served as a reminder that God provides at all times, in all situations, and in all sorts of ways. He is faithful just as He says!
  • Advice to Students: Bring cute clothes to beach camp so your parents don’t have to FedEx them to you.
  • Shoutout: Being in Stephanie Pulley and Kendra Wallace’s classes these last two years have really helped me cement how Godly women should behave. It was a privilege to be in their classes!


Gracie Tijerina

  • High School: Homeschool
  • Future Plans: Get a degree in Communications at Dallas Baptist University.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: 2 Timothy 3:16-17—All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
  • Most Memorable Moment: I will never forget when I went white water rafting and zip-lining in Belize.
  • Funny Memory: My funniest memory was when the lifeguard at camp threatened to kick Ryan and Gabe out of the pool for doing flips off of the diving board.
  • Spiritual Growth: During my time at FD Students, I had the opportunity to connect with teenagers who would encourage me during my walk with Christ and meet with them weekly. Having this community assisted me in learning more about the bible and witnessing to others.
  • Advice to Students: Be involved and go to every event you can! My time in FD Students went by too fast, so enjoy it while you’re still there!


Mitchell Stevens IV

  • High School: Bishop Lynch High School
  • Future Plans: Attend Liberty University.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: Romans 5:1-2—Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
  • Most Memorable Moment: All the summer camps!
  • Funny Memory: It was hilarious when we did fart bombs at the beast feast.
  • Spiritual Growth: I learned how to understand my duties as a Christian and how to stand firm in my faith.
  • Advice to Students: My advice would be to stay patient. Trust God and spend time getting to know Him. He will take care of everything!
  • Shoutout: It was a huge blessing to be a part of FB students!


Cathryn Wisley

  • High School: Homeschool
  • Future Plans: Finish my Super Senior Year.
  • Favorite Bible Verse: 1 Peter 1:7-8—so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
  • Most Memorable Moment: I will always remember the San Antonio Mission Trip. I was able to deepen and form new friendships, see the work of the Holy Spirit, and partake in evangelism.
  • Funny Memory: Just before Dylan Harkness moved to Florida, some of the students put on a mock funeral for him.
  • Spiritual Growth: The First Dallas Student Ministry and the friendships I have made through it have deeply impacted my life. The leaders have blessed me with so much godly teaching and wisdom. The friendships I have made have also had a major impact on my life, compelling me to love Christ more fervently.
  • Advice to Students: Seek mentoring relationships with your leaders; they have a wealth of godly wisdom to share with you if you ask. Make strong friendships with peers who will encourage you to seek the Lord. Above all, begin to submit to Christ during this time in your life, because it will be harder to make that decision as you get older.
  • Shoutout: I am very grateful for the amazing opportunities that have been presented to me through the Student Ministry.