Grainger Today Correspondent
RUTLEDGE – Grainger High School senior Larissa Copley, the daughter of Jeremy and Jennifer Copley, has been awarded a scholarship by the Roan Scholars Leadership Program.
The award, commonly called the Roan Scholarship, is East Tennessee State University’s premier award. The name of the program is drawn from Roan Mountain, the highest peak in the area, which is a motivational sight as well as a symbol of the character, strength and idealism of the regions’ people. The goal of the program is to attract, retain and develop the region’s best leadership.
This is the second year of eligibility for GHS seniors. A GHS student made it to the finals a year ago. Each eligible school can nominate two students for the award. The students then complete a rigorous selection process in which the 100 nominees are asked to provide short answer questions to approximately 15 essay questions, as well as provide an essay, work history, letter of recommendation and academic references.
The next step in the process is a regional interview in which all of the 100 applicants meet with a member of the screening committee and twenty finalists are selected. This is followed by additional and more in-depth interviews and activities in a small group session. The pool of candidates then meets with currently enrolled Roan Scholar students and once again with the selection committee.
“I was pretty excited,” said Copley of her feelings when she was named a finalist. “But I also knew that I had to be realistic as I was in competition with other top students in the region surrounding ETSU.”
“The Roan looks for young men and women with the capacity, desire and drive to become exceptional leaders – individuals who take initiative to identify, learn about, and address needs in their communities and mobilize others to join them in those efforts,” said Roan Director Scott Jeffress. “Members of this newest Roan class embody those qualities, and we are confident that for many years to come they will positively impact ETSU, this region and the world.”
In making their selection of Copley as a scholarship winner, the steering committee had an abundance of information that indicated that she was the type of individual they were seeking. Larissa is the salutatorian of Grainger High School’s class of 2017, a class officer, and vice president of the school Beta Club. She was a Link Leader who worked with incoming classes to orient them to the school and was also a senior leader for the soccer team, a position similar to a captain of the team.
Although her academic achievements and accolades were great recommendations, it is her total involvement in the school, especially in activities where she could have an impact on others, that makes her stand out. Copley relates that her stepmother had recommended that she consider starting a clothing closet at the school. However at that time, it was learned that the school nurse, Tracy Roach, could use help in packing personal hygiene items, food and other items for fellow students who were in need. “My work for the Students in Need program would have to be my most impactful contribution,” said Copley. “It has been so rewarding working with nurse Tracey,” said Copley. “She has one of the best hearts of anyone I’ve ever met. She will do anything for anyone and never expect anything in return.”
The scholarship, which provides tuition and fees for four years, a room and board stipend and a refund on book purchases, will allow Copley to pursue an education in one of two areas. Initially Copley will enroll for biomedical engineering, but will continue to consider the medical profession, where she could pursue training as a physician’s assistant, or medical school. In addition to the traditional on-campus education experience, the scholarship provides the student with the opportunity to study abroad and to be involved in service projects, at no cost to the student.
“Larissa is often times called by the counseling department to help tutor, and she has never turned down a student she could help,” said Dr. Amanda Johnson. “We are exceptionally proud of Larissa. This is only the second year Grainger High School had the opportunity to nominate students for the Roan Scholarship program. Last year we had a finalist, and this year we had a winner. We have much to be proud of.”
“I give credit to my parents, my teachers, my family and everyone around me who has believed in and supported me through my academics,” said Copley. “That’s been my main focus since (I was) little. Grainger County is small, and there are not a lot of opportunities here. However, it’s really what you make of it. I’m humbled by the award.”