As in the past six years, one day in April is a very emotional day for the Southern Tennessee Ladies Society. Not only do they work so hard throughout the year to raise money for scholarships, but awarding over $27,000 to eight graduating seniors is very fulfilling even when one of those young students returns from 2014 to give an inspirational story of the detours he took since the last time he received his scholarship.
Among this year’s young students are two dentists, an electrical engineer, a psychologist, a pediatric oncologist, a nurse with an ultimate goal to become a cardiologist, a physician and an obstetrician. These graduates have a 3.7-plus GPA while still participating in several civic and community organizations and holding jobs at local businesses. Kylie tried out for the Pride of the Southland Band at the University of Tennessee and announced at the meeting that she was accepted. Alina, an immigrant to the United States from Uzbekistan, has had the most challenges, despite communicating and cultural differences. She sees her parents as heroes and says, “My mother taught her not to expect anything back and her father taught her how to seize an opportunity and how to live.” Nathan has been accepted to three universities but no decision has been made on his alma mater. He was the Honorary Recipient and son of STLS member Kim Hopkins and grandson of member Christine Hopkins.
Dr. MaryLou Apple, President of Motlow State Community College, brought the Toolkit of Traits for the eight scholarship recipients that will help them succeed in life but to remind them to ignite and inspire greatness and give back. Dr Apple will be retiring on June 30, she will be moving to eastern Tennessee to care for her father who has severe dementia. She feels, “that her parents gave up a lot and everything we have achieved was because of our parents and it’s their turn.” When asked about the overwhelming response to the Tennessee Promise she responded. “That the number was much higher than anyone ever anticipated but know that we will still lose a few. If we take one that never dreamed that never thought they would have the opportunity and give them that opportunity it would be the wheel that starts moving our society to the right direction.”
Returning scholarship recipient and student Cole Johnson, thanked all the ladies for their gratitude. His dream as a young student was to get out of small town USA and go to Tennessee Tech University, become a chemical engineer, join the Army and get his commission and then retire. At last year’s scholarship meeting, the guest speaker, Dr. Apple, gave her Toolkit of Traits to recipients touching a young student, himself. After graduating high school from Grundy County, the realization set in that living here wasn’t so bad after all and he didn’t want to move so far away. He changed his major to Mechanical Engineering so he could get a job close to home. “Nothing in life is easy but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be enjoyable while you do it. You will fail but it is how you respond to it. Nothing in life is a failure if you learn from it.” To those students he give the words, “Remember this day, the look on these faces around the room, when things get tough and you want to quit know it is normal.”
Cole is currently a student at Motlow with a passion in his heart, to finish what he started. He complemented the ladies in the room for having faith in him. He could not waste their hard work and dedication. To the graduates of 2015, he encourages them to let the journey carry you not the destination.
The next meeting of the Southern Tennessee Ladies’ Society will be held Wednesday, May 6, at 10 a.m. at the Franklin County Country Club. The program is a fashion show sponsored by The Tigress of Fayetteville and the installation of new officers. Reservations call Tina at 967-4813 or firstname.lastname@example.org before April 28.