Record number of students selected for Roan Scholars program

Roan Scholars

JOHNSON CITY (Feb. 3, 2014) – Seven student leaders from across the region have been selected as the Class of 2018 for the Roan Scholars Leadership Program at East Tennessee State University.  This is the largest class of students in the history of the program.

The Roan Program, which is funded primarily by private donations, was established in 1997 by Louis H. Gump, to attract the region's most promising young leaders and to develop each student's unique leadership potential.

The Roan provides both a full scholarship to ETSU and four years of leader development experiences and opportunities, such as international travel and study abroad, internships, workshops and seminars, service projects and other unique programs.

Outstanding student-leaders from throughout the region are nominated by their high school and selected by the Roan Steering Committee based on their demonstrated excellence, and potential, in four areas: character, intellectual curiosity, physical vigor, and leadership.

“As we introduce what will be our fifteenth class of Roan Scholars, we’re excited about them being our largest-ever class and about our plans for continued program growth in the future,” says program director Scott Jeffress.  “These students bring to campus a tremendous amount of talent, passion, and leadership potential; we’re looking forward to all that they will accomplish, and the positive impact they will have on ETSU and the region.”

Members of the Roan Class of 2018 are:

Sophia Lynn Baker, of Kingsport, is the daughter of Joseph and Patti Baker and attends Dobyns-Bennett High School.  The drum major for the past two years in the school’s award-winning and nationally recognized marching band, she has participated in numerous competitions and parades, including the 2013 Presidential Inauguration Parade.

A member of Dobyns-Bennett’s Beta Club, National Honors Society, and Science Olympiad team, Sophia is also the co-founder of the “Pay It Forward” organization, which provides support for students in need.

After graduating from ETSU, she will likely pursue a career in the medical field, possibly as a pediatric neuropsychologist or physical therapist.

Meredith Ivy Bell is a senior at Cocke County High School in Newport and is an active student-leader.  A varsity soccer player, she serves as the Student Government Association president, Beta Club secretary, and school yearbook editor, among many other activities.  Outside of school, Bell is active in her church group and with numerous community ministry organizations.

Selected to participate in Girls State and having attended the Governor’s School in Scientific Models and Data Analysis last summer, Bell plans to pursue a career in sports medicine.  Her parents are John and Vida Ivy Bell.

Tiffani Yvette Carrasco is a senior at Ashe County High School in West Jefferson, N.C., where she is president of the school’s Beta Club.  A team leader and recipient of numerous awards for cheerleading, she also teaches at summer cheerleading camps and competes regularly in team clogging events throughout the region.

An active volunteer in her community, she helps teach an ESL (English as a Second Language) course at Wilkes Community College, assists with American Red Cross blood drives, and serves at a local assisted-living facility.

The daughter of Francisco Carrasco and Maria Romero, Carrasco plans on a career in health care, possibly as a physical therapist or physician.

Olivia Ellis is a Tennessee High School senior from Bristol and is the daughter of Philip and Gwen Ellis.  She is the co-editor of the Tennessee High yearbook and is an active student-leader at school, in her church, and within the community.

A member of Bristol’s Youth Leadership Program, she volunteered and served with a number of groups and also worked with the Bristol Chamber of Commerce’s marketing team in producing promotional videos.

A dancer and tennis player, Ellis is also an artist and writer who recently teamed up with a classmate to win Barter Theater’s Young Playwrights Festival.  Her current career interests include graphic design or something in film, television, or the arts.

Nathaniel James Farnor is the son of Jonathan and Jennifer Farnor of Erwin and is the first Roan Scholar from Unicoi County High School, where he is currently student body president.  He also manages the school’s bluegrass band and helped coordinate invitational performances in Nashville and New Orleans.

A volunteer with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, Farnor has served as team captain, chairman of the high school’s Relay team and online fundraising chairman for the entire county.  He is an active member of his church as well.

Farnor is also involved in local politics and hopes this may translate into a future career.

Margot Lee Ledford lives in Waynesville, N.C., where she is a senior and the president of the Student Government Association at Tuscola High School.  A member of Tuscola’s swim team, Ledford is also involved with the International Club and is president of the school’s Young Republicans Club.

Outside of school, she has been an active member of her town’s Municipal Youth Leadership Team, representing students during regular meetings and planning sessions with town officials.  Ledford also participates in her church youth group and is heavily involved with mission trips and local service projects, including Haywood Street Ministries.

After ETSU, she plans to become a pharmacist.  Her parents are Heyward and Eunice Ledford.

Samuel “Hunter” Wike is the son of Mitchell and Traci Wike and lives in Canton, N.C., where he attends Pisgah High School.  A student-athlete, Hunter has served as captain of the football, basketball and tennis teams at Pisgah High and was a league-leading receiver in football as well as the recipient of conference player of the year honors in tennis.

Off the field and court, he has co-founded two student organizations: Diversity Club, and ‘PASCO’ – which connects Pisgah High athletes with the Broyhill Children’s Home. In addition, Wike serves as a freshman mentor and works with students at a local elementary school through the “Breakfast of Champions” program.

Wike plans to pursue a career as a physician or pharmacist.

For more information about the program, contact the Roan Scholars office at (423) 439-7677 or or visit

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