Elizabethton Youth among ETSU Selected Scholars for Roan Class of 2026 – www.elizabethton.com


The Roan Scholars Leadership Program has selected eight high school students, including Elizabethton’s Elijah Smith, for the new Roan Class of 2026. These students will join 24 returning Roan Scholars this fall at East Tennessee State University under the prestigious scholarship program four-year study. .
“This year, we’ve expanded eligibility beyond school applicants to allow area high school students to apply directly for the Roan,” said program director Scott Jeffress. “There was great interest in this opportunity, and we interviewed a record number of students during our regional interviews and Roan Finalist Days. We are excited about this new class and look forward to seeing how they will positively impact on campus and our region.
“Members of the Roan Class of 2026 have been recognized for their academic, athletic, and extracurricular achievements at the local, state, and national levels. From refereeing recreational youth league games and providing free tennis clinics, to volunteering with a local fire department and hosting a leadership conference student, they serve their communities in countless ways,” he said.
Jeffress said these eight scholars represent the Roan values ​​of leadership, excellence, and impact and were selected from more than 120 nominees and candidates in 27 counties in northeast Tennessee, southwest Virginia and of western North Carolina.
The new Roan Fellows are:
Zayda Carver (Mitchell High School; Spruce Pine, NC): Carver is enthusiastically committed to helping others. “My whole life has been defined by events in which my attitude and enthusiasm directly sparked similar excitement among my peers,” she said. She is heavily involved both at Mitchell High School and in her community, including serving as student book club president, junior class marshal, Girls State participant, small group leader, and praise team leader at the church, recreational league referee and member of both the National Honor Society and the Spanish National Honor Society. “Zayda absorbs knowledge,” said Rachel Hughes, an English teacher at Mitchell High School. “She challenges herself by pushing her own learning boundaries, is willing to use constructive criticism to improve herself, and has an innate curiosity.”
Cooper Johnson (West Ridge High School; Kingsport): A student of many talents, Johnson is both a member of the All-State Choir (which also sings with its church choir and musical theater program) and an All-State playmaker. -Conference on his school. basketball team. He is a student ambassador at West Ridge High School, participates in various clubs and is involved in his church. Speaking of leadership, Johnson said, “I want to grow and network with like-minded people. As I improve I would like to continue to inspire, encourage and make a difference in my community. I realized the importance of understanding who I lead and how my actions can affect the people around me. His high school principal, Dr. Josh Davis, added, “Cooper is the model for self-development…He never sees a situation as an obstacle, but rather an opportunity to strengthen his problem-solving ability.” .
Leah Loveday (Northview Academy; Sevierville): Loveday is a gifted musician with experience in the French horn, trumpet and mellophone, is a competition bandleader and was principal drum major of the Marching Band of the Northview Academy over the past two seasons. “My growth mindset is how I thrive,” Loveday said. “The joy I find in others, music, and my growth is who I am – a versatile person looking to grow.” Student government association president, valedictorian, and leader in numerous other organizations, Loveday attributes her deep appreciation for Appalachia (and her current career path) to her involvement with Governor’s School and Smoky Mountain Youth Leadership. Dr. Carolyn Davis, school counselor at Northview, described her as “one of the most empowered students I have had the pleasure of working with…She is always looking for new challenges and opportunities to help her to achieve his goals (and) is always looking to help others.
Kyah Powers (Dobyns-Bennett High School; Kingsport): An accomplished musician, Powers won all-state honors as a band (flute), was part of the National Champion Dobyns-Bennett Marching Band and the Youth Orchestra of the Mountain Symphony and held several key leadership positions with the Highlands Youth Ensemble. She was also a peer tutor and served with her church’s youth group on mission trips. “My joy now comes from serving others and being a catalyst for happiness wherever I can,” Powers said. “I want to leave a legacy of compassion and lives changed for the better.” Michele Wright, Deputy Principal of the Sullivan Central Middle and Innovation Academy, added, “She is a fearless leader who pushes others to do their best…she has a tremendous desire to make a meaningful impact on the world.
Elijah Smith (Elizabethton High School; Elizabethton): A self-described “enthusiastic public servant,” Smith hosted a “Vax by the Tracks” event for his community during the COVID-19 pandemic, helped start and host a podcast on “ Doing Good,” offers free tennis clinics for local children and regularly volunteers at a Ministry of Food kitchen. He is also a varsity tennis player at Elizabethton High School and holds several school records in swimming. “Elijah is a team player,” said athletic director Forrest Holt. “(He) impresses me the most with his ability to network with adults, community leaders and professionals. He puts himself forward and doesn’t care to step out of (his) comfort zone. next four years, Smith added, “I feel ready to fit in and contribute to an even greater community during my college career, using the skills of (my) transition (from school to home in high school) to better adapt to the next ones in life.
Macy Strader (Grainger High School; Rutledge): Strader has a passion for creative writing and is in the process of working with a publisher to publish a horror novel. Captain of the Grainger High School cheerleading team, she has also served as yearbook editor, vice president of the school’s Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) club, officer of the Council of health and hosted an award-winning leadership conference for students in his county. “Macy is a born leader and problem solver,” said Jill Denton, school counselor at Grainger High School; “(Her) peers would describe her as driven, organized and empowering. (She) maintains fairness, promotes a positive work/learning environment and works well with others. Strader described leadership as “a matter of trust. You need to build a relationship with your team…and create an environment that allows everyone to thrive.
Braydon White (Chuckey-Doak High School; Greeneville): A strong work ethic and desire to serve others marked Braydon White’s high school years. “I’m the kind of person that once I start something, I’m going to see it through,” White said. “I make it a point to help and be helpful in any way I can.” White is a member of the National Honor Society at Chuckey-Doak High School, where he also played football and helps lead service-learning efforts. In the community, he attended the Chick-Fil-A Leadership Academy for two years, worked at Food City since he was 14, and volunteered with the local fire department, helping plan and lead various service projects. Alison Fox, White’s AP English teacher, described it this way: “Braydon’s attitude is always inspiring. He accepts challenges and constructive criticism with an open mind and a desire to grow… This positivity is contagious. Moreover, he knows when to lead and when to follow, which allows all his peers to have fun working with him.
Natalie White (Twin Springs High School; Nickelsville, Virginia): White is captain of Twin Springs High School’s forensic team and is a state champion in public speaking. She is also captain of the college cheerleading team, editor of the school yearbook, and earned a black belt in taekwondo and competed in national championships. Goal-oriented and compassionate, she strives to lead with dignity and grace. “I really feel for those who are struggling or suffering,” White said. “And those emotions inspire me and motivate me to do good. My compassion for others is a quality that I am extremely grateful for, because it helps me connect with others and shows them that I care. Her school counselor, Bridgett Rose-Barnette, described her as “a go-getter (who) uses her skills to inspire others around her”, while Twin Springs teacher Anthony Shipley added “( Natalie) serves as a role model (who) on a daily basis demonstrates kindness, thoughtfulness, discipline and motivation.
About roan
“It is extremely gratifying to see the remarkable growth and development of the Roan Scholars leadership program over the past two decades. This new class of Roan Scholars will eventually join the ranks of our more than 80 alumni who lead and serve in our region and around the world,” said Roan Founder Louis H. Gump. “In what has been another challenging year, we are especially grateful to all of our partners in this Roan process – the high schools who identify such outstanding students, our committee members and staff who dedicate many hours to interviewing and select students, and our supporters who generate the resources that support the program. Our extended Roan family is the reason for our success. None of this would be possible without them. »
The Roan Scholars Leadership Program empowers students to be excellent leaders who will have a positive impact on the ETSU campus, region, and the world. The Roan Scholarship provides four years of unique out-of-class experiences and opportunities designed to challenge and inspire students to grow and develop as leaders. The scholarship also includes a financial award for tuition and fees, room and board, and books.
The Roan, which is funded primarily by private donations, was established by Gump in 1997. The first class of Roan Scholars entered in 2000. For more information, contact the Roan office at (423) 439-7677 or [email protected], or visit the Roan website at RoanScholars.org.


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