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Appalachian Scholars are homegrown leaders of tomorrow

Oct. 3, 2007
By Mary Reed and Katie Taybus | Photo by Rick Fatica

Historically, only about 30 percent of Appalachians go to college. Even fewer graduate. Enter the Appalachian Scholars program. Now in its second year, the scholarship program not only provides access to Ohio University for Appalachian Ohio students of modest means, it makes sure they thrive once they're here. 

Photo by Rick FaticaThe hope is that these students will stay in Southeast Ohio after graduation and take on leadership roles in their communities. 

"That's how you build sustainable economic development. That's how you deal with rural poverty," says Richard Greenlee, associate provost for Appalachian access and enrichment programs and himself a native of Appalachian Ohio. "These students understand this best from the lived experience. And once they get that scholarly and academic background, imagine what they would be able to accomplish." 

The students already are accomplishing a lot. For example, sophomore scholars are conducting a service learning project at the Federal Valley Resource Center in Stewart, Ohio. They will present the findings of their evaluation project for the nonprofit group to members of the Appalachian Regional Commission in Washington, D.C.

This need-based scholarship initiative provides support to students from the 29 Appalachian Ohio counties. The 10 recipients in the scholarship's second class were chosen from a pool of more than 150 applicants. The renewable scholarship is valued at $10,000 per year. 

To support retention, the program tries to create a family environment for the scholars and also conducts Appalachian culture trainings. For example, students learned about the famous Highlander Center in Tennessee, a residential workshop center for social change organizations. Highlander alumni include Rosa Parks and other members of civil rights, labor rights and Appalachian people's movements. 

"They saw Ohio University as their Highlander Center," Greenlee says, beaming with pride for both the scholars program and the students enrolled in it. "They inspire me to no end." 

In their own words

My name: Ryan Walsh
Hometown: Jackson, Ohio
Best advice:
No goal can go unaccomplished through hard work and devotion.
Favorite teacher quality: taking the extra time to know the students personally
Most nervous about: the transition from high school to college
Favorite movie: "Friday Night Lights"
Superpower I wish I had: the ability to heal anyone of their physical and mental illness

My name: Kariss Forte
Hometown: Athens, Ohio
Major: sociology
Important issue: global warming
Best advice: Listen to what people are saying around you because sometimes they see things that you don't.
Favorite book: "The United States of Appalachia"
I hope to achieve: the knowledge that I did the best I could to get to where I want to be
Favorite movie: "The Last King of Scotland"

My name: Ashli Anderson
Hometown: Barnesville, Ohio
Major: exercise physiology
Accomplishment: being on the national honor roll throughout high school
Nervous about: difficult classes
Favorite movie: Any of the "Harry Potter" movies. He fights for what is right, and is always ready to help a friend.
Unknown talent: skiing
Superpower I wish I had: The ability to fly. It would save a lot of gas money!

My name: Rebecca Waddell
Hometown: Latham, Ohio
Major: early childhood education
Favorite book: "The Memory Keeper's Daughter"
Best advice: You can do anything you put your mind to.
I admire: My mom. She raised me on her own and has been able to overcome many difficulties that life has thrown at her.
Favorite teacher qualities: creative, fun and energetic
Excited about: all of my education classes

My name: Annie Scott
Hometown: Chandlersville, Ohio
Major: physical therapy
Important issue: the presidential elections
Would like to research: finding a cure for cancer
Unknown talent: I can sing, play guitar and dance at the same time!
Dream job: pediatrician
Favorite book: "The Chronicles of Narnia"

My name: Mandy Schmitz
Hometown: Peebles, Ohio
Major: special education
Excited about: going somewhere I can be myself and focus on what I need to do
I will miss: my family the most
Superpower I wish I had: to place my hand on any textbook and be able to obtain all the information contained in it
Important issue: education
Best advice: Don't limit yourself to others' expectations of you.

Coming soon: Outlook introduces this year's Cutler, Templeton and Urban scholars on each of the next three Wednesdays.

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Published: Jul 20, 2006 3:50:00 PM
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