The Roan Scholars Leadership Program will grant scholarships to a record number of student leaders next year to attend East Tennessee State University.
Program Director David Jeffress said seven students from counties surrounding ETSU, including three from Western North Carolina, will receive funding for tuition, living expenses and books through the 2018 academic year, and will have opportunities for leadership development, including international travel and study abroad.
“Our plan is to stay at seven scholars for the next four or five years, and then to possibly grow that,” Jeffress said Monday. “It doesn’t sound like much, but if we stay at that rate for the next few years, we will increase the number of Roan Scholars on campus by 50 percent.”
The program awarded four scholarships to area students in its first year, then five years later increased the number of recipients to five.
Jeffress said the current number of Roan Scholars attending ETSU, 19, could increase to 30 in five years.
The program, funded by private donations and university sources, has seen a recent increase in support, he said, allowing the organization to expand the number of scholarships offered.
The members of the Roan Class of 2018 are: Sophia Lynn Baker, of Kingsport; Meredith Ivy Bell, of Newport; Tiffani Yvette Carrasco, of West Jefferson, N.C.; Olivia Ellis, of Bristol; Nathaniel James Farnor, of Erwin; Margot Lee Ledford, of Waynesville, N.C.; and Samuel “Hunter” Wike, of Canton, N.C.
Jeffress said the students were recommended to the Roan organization by their high school principals, and then the Roan Steering Committee chose recipients based on the established criteria of character, intellectual curiosity, physical vigor and leadership.
The education expenses covered under the scholarship funding amounts to approximately $25,000 per year for each student, Jeffress said.
The program was established in 1997 by local businessman Louis H. Gump to attract, retain and develop the community’s future leaders.