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Roan Scholars Leadership Program selects eight students for Class of 2023

Contributed • Feb 8, 2019 at 3:52 PM

The Roan Scholars Leadership Program at East Tennessee State University has selected eight high school seniors to join the Roan Class of 2023.

The incoming ETSU students were chosen from among more than 100 nominees in 27 counties across Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and Western North Carolina. They will join 23 returning Roan scholars this fall as part of the prestigious four-year scholarship program designed to challenge and inspire students to grow and develop as future leaders.

“During a demanding selection process that included a record number of nominees, these eight students demonstrated their capacity, desire, and drive to be exceptional leaders,” said Scott Jeffress, Roan director. “We are excited about this incoming class and look forward to welcoming them to campus later this year.”

The newest Roan Scholars are:

• Olivia Bostic (Abingdon H.S., Abingdon, Virginia): Olivia serves her community and provides emergency care as an emergency medical technician, leads her peers as the Virginia 4H state president, and has shown her aptitude for Spanish by earning the Virginia Board of Education’s Seal of Biliteracy.

She is also a four-time state presentation champion for Virginia 4H. How do others describe her? “She is a young leader who never leaves anything ‘half-done,’ ” says Crystal Peek with 4-H Youth Development. “She is willing to work with others and empower her peers to make the world a better place to live.”

• Haylie Davenport (Grainger H.S., Bean Station): Haylie has been class president for the past four years; Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) president; Health Council director and DECA president. She was heavily involved in JROTC,  where she held multiple leadership positions.

She is also a Sunday school teacher at her church, partners with local businesses to reduce food waste and has a passion for the National Parks, aspiring to work with the National Parks Foundation one day.

How do others describe her? “Haylie genuinely desires to uplift and encourage anyone who is around her,” says Dr. Amanda Johnson, school counselor at Grainger High School.

• Rebecca Frazier (Tuscola H.S., Clyde, North Carolina): Rebecca, upon learning of a new community center for women and children experiencing homelessness, coordinated a hygiene-item drive, collecting hundreds of items.

She serves as the youth representative on her church’s women’s ministry team, advocating for regular outreach to residential treatment facilities for people with mental health diagnoses, and also plays varsity softball and basketball.

What do others say about her? “Rebecca’s heart is for the disenfranchised and marginalized, and her advocacy as a servant leader is inspiring,” says Teresa Heinz, school counselor at Tuscola High School.

• Sam Garcia (Dobyns-Bennett H.S., Kingsport): Sam, born in Venezuela, recently organized a drive to send needed supplies, including food, medicine and toiletries, to that country. He is a varsity soccer player, having played all four years and earning an award for “most improved.”

Passionate about chemistry and not one to shy away from the most difficult classes offered, he hopes to become a pharmacist.

What do others say about him? “This young man, who is willing to roll up his sleeves and work alongside others, is an example of one who understands commitment and leadership,” says Wendy Wolfe, school counselor at Dobyns-Bennett High School.

• KeiAndra Harper (Morristown H.S. East, Morristown): KeiAndra is captain of her school’s varsity volleyball team, plays on the basketball and softball teams, and was a Volunteer Girls State attendee. With her passion for communications, she also led her HOSA-Future Health Professionals Community Awareness team to second place in the state conference.

What do others say about her? “Whether she is on the court, on the softball field, or in the classroom, she is a person who is noticed for showing courage in standing up for her beliefs, for displaying her competitive nature, or for making choices that benefit those around her,” says Brian Bowlin, school counselor at Morristown High School East.

• Taylor Shanks (Unaka H.S., Elizabethton): Taylor aspires to be a speech pathologist and open her own practice in East Tennessee. She discovered that passion through several human health services classes in high school.

She is vice president of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, represented the city of Elizabethton at the Knoxville Teen Board, and has played varsity softball for four years, helping to lead her team to the state playoffs.

What do others say about her? “She is very optimistic when she steps out to start a new challenge,” says Deani Smith, a math teacher in Carter County.

• Nelya Stynka (Nesbitt Discovery Academy, Asheville, North Carolina): Nelya is a first-generation college student and a member of the National Honor Society with an interest in STEM.

Her family is Moldovan; after traveling to Moldova last summer with her church youth group, she also sponsored families in that country with earnings from her multiple part-time jobs.

What do others say about her? “Nelya Stynka is unstoppable … I have never seen a student so committed to creating a different future for herself,” says Wendy Jensen, counselor at Nesbitt Discovery Academy.

• Carter Wilson (Ashe County H.S., Fleetwood, North Carolina): Carter is a champion banjo player and track and field athlete, specializing in shot put and discus. He has helped organize Ashe Project Graduation for each of the past six years.

With future aspirations in the cybersecurity field, Carter has also spent three summers at the Broyhill Leadership Conference, where he learned about different leadership styles and how he can best help a team.

What do others say about him? “Carter is a caring and compassionate person … a leader who will emphasize the ‘we’ of the group rather than focusing on (him)self,” says Vernon Roten, the social studies department chair at Ashe County High School.

“These Scholars will join more than 60 alumni around the country who are making a positive impact in places they work and in communities where they live. Sectors represented include: business, education, nonprofit, government, health care and the military,” said Louie Gump, founder of the Roan Leadership Program.

“I am grateful for our committee members, staff, supporters and partners who continue to make the Roan Program such a great success.”

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