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Different paths, same dream: Two Hawkins County students begin Honors College quest

Anne Newton • Aug 28, 2018 at 4:30 PM

The first time Kihley Bellamy and Claire Roberson met was in seventh grade when the duo went to a Beta Club Convention. Since then, Claire and Kihley forged a friendship while attending separate Hawkins County middle and high schools. This fall, the best friends will room together after each being accepted into East Tennessee State University’s Honors College, two of only 22 students selected for 2018-19.

Although from rival schools in the same county, the girls kept up with each other but were surprised when they discovered before graduation that both had decided to become nurse practitioners.

A Cherokee High School honors graduate, Claire’s interest in medicine grew through community service as a volunteer for Hawkins County Pregnancy Center since 2016, county blood drives and the food bank. She is certified in basic life support for healthcare professionals and is a clinical medical assistant. She completed her clinical internship in Fall 2017. She led a school blood drive as Student Council president, was a Hawkins County Health Council Representative and student representative for the Hawkins County Board of Education as a senior. She was a Cherokee High School Clinical Intern in 2017.

A Volunteer High School honors graduate, Kihley became interested in medicine from a very young age. She decided to become a nurse practitioner because so she can provide more personalized care for people because that allows more individual time to build relationships with patients. She provided nearly 200 hours of community service and also volunteered for several walks for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, American Cancer Society and March of Dimes. Kihley was Kentucky-Tennessee Key Club District chair of the Technology and Communications Committee as a senior and received the Advisors Service Award in 2016. She was District Sergeant of Arms chair and International Projects Chair as a junior, and a member of Mu Alpha Theta and the Beta Club.

Both girls were also among 98 regional nominees from 27 counties in three states for this year’s Roan Scholar program for their outstanding character, leadership potential, intellectual curiosity, desire to make a difference, and the drive to get that done. They also completed advanced placement, dual enrollment and honors level courses.

As Student Government Association Senator on the design committee, Kihley helped plan homecoming and school events. She was Key Club projects chair and Volunteer High School band color guard captain. She also represented the local chapter at the Key Club International convention in 2016 and 2017. She helped organize the Community Thanksgiving Service in 2016 and 2017. She assisted with the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation walk in 2015 and 2017; the March of Dimes Walk in 2015 and 2017; the American Cancer Society walk in 2017; and the Community Thanksgiving Service in 2016 and 2017. She also attended the Russell Athletic Bowl in 2016.

Claire served on the Skills USA and Sustainability Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Beta Club, Academic Team, yearbook staff and Student Council. She was a Volunteer Girls State Delegate and Youth Leadership Summit Delegate as a senior. Claire received the SkillsUSA State Champion for her Health Occupation Portfolio and a Diagnostic Medicine Award. She received academic honors awards for Algebra I, II A/B; Chemistry; United States Government; Biology; Geometry; Economics; Anatomy; French I, II and III; English 9 and 10; Diagnostic Medicine; Health Science; and advanced placement U.S. History.

The University Honors Scholars program is a focused liberal arts experience that emphasizes undergraduate research and creative activity. Honors Scholars experience a strong sense of community and diversity and have access to exceptional academic programs, faculty, and staff that encourage critical thinking, assist with research interests, and support students' academic excellence.

Honors scholars curriculum includes unique courses specifically designed for them in small classes, an interdisciplinary approach to course content, prepares students to conduct research culminates in the writing and presenting of an undergraduate honors thesis.

All Honors College students are required to carry a minimum of 15 credit hours each semester, and are encouraged to pursue other opportunities such as study abroad, a Washington Center Internship, or department or college internships. The program’s benefits include tuition, standard housing, a meal plan and more.

From their first meeting in seventh grade to their reconnection while vying for the Roan Scholarship, the girls learned they have more in common than academic excellence. “We started talking and figured out our sense of humor is the same, we say the same things, we both have similar interests and mutual friends,” said Kihley, “and when we were getting ready to graduate, we found out we both chose the same career path.”

Claire added, “It was crazy. We were both selected for Honors College and Roan Scholar nominees. It was like we just picked up where we left off, like nothing had changed except we got older. We talk a lot and say the same things really fast and now we’re going to follow the same career path at the same college, be roommates and work together through the Honors College.”

Kihley said, “It feels nice that you're beginning something new and you have people there to help you.” Claire added, “I couldn't imagine going somewhere else, it's a good fit.”

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