Northeast State graduate wins prestigious Cooke scholarship

Rick Wagner • May 31, 2013 at 3:38 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Northeast State Community College graduate Elizabeth “Beth” Ross has won the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship for 2013.She is the second Northeast State student to win the scholarship in the history of the school. A mother of two, she overcame health problems and a lack of confidence while at Northeast.“It is a huge honor to receive this scholarship,” Ross of Blountville said in a news release. “I am truly grateful to be recognized by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.”Ross was chosen as one of 73 scholarship recipients from more than 750 applications submitted from two-year colleges around the country.The scholarship’s value is for up to $30,000 annually. The award covers a significant share of a student’s educational expenses including tuition, living expenses, books and required fees for the final two to three years necessary to achieve a bachelor’s degree.Ross distinguished herself by earning a 4.0 grade point average while pursuing her associate’s degree in Speech Communication. She is the vice president of scholarship for the Alpha Iota Chi chapter of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, a member of the President’s All-Academic Team and chief of staff to the governor for the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature.She also balanced college life with being a full-time mother to her son and daughter and dealing with her own health issues.While at Northeast State, Ross enrolled in the Honors Program, joined Toastmasters and served as student adviser to the 2012-2013 Northeast State Debate Team.Her health problem, now in remission, sapped not only her strength but her self-confidence, too, the release said. She said returning to school seemed overwhelming when she first enrolled.Ross credited professors Dr. Rick Merritt, Dr. Ruth Livingston, and Jane Honeycutt with helping develop her academic potential. Honeycutt, who also serves as Alpha Iota Chi chapter adviser, first met Ross two years ago after she enrolled in her Women’s Studies class.“I had been out of college a long time when I came to Northeast State,” Ross said. “Jane really believed in me long enough for me to believe in myself.”Honeycutt said Ross possessed all the academic and leadership tools to succeed. The only thing she needed was a boost of confidence.“I just wanted to give her some confidence back,” Honeycutt said. “She has the determination to do well at so many things; it has been a pleasure to see her find herself.”Honeycutt said Ross raised the chapter’s profile with her leadership at the regional and national level. The chapter won several awards and Ross won 1st place as top officer in the state at Phi Theta Kappa’s Regional Convention held in April. Regional Phi Theta Kappa officials were so impressed with Ross that they named her a regional vice president at-large purely on her leadership abilities for her c h a p t e r.“Honestly, she’s taught me a lot,” Honeycutt said of Ross. “A great deal of the regional and national success the chapter had this year resulted from her leadership.”Ross also served as president of the student organizations A Toast to Education and the Argumentation and Debate Society. She graduated summa cum laude this spring.Ross has applied to several four-year institutions including Columbia University. She plans on pursuing her bachelor’s degree in human rights. Ross also works part time with the Northeast State Foundation where she serves as the coordinator of alumni affairs and helps with fundraising.“I love Foundation work so much,” Ross said. “I especially like working with our executive director, Dr. Heather Cook, who has been a mentor to me. She has a heart for service and has been a great example for me to follow.”

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