Future doctor, Science Hill junior wins 2018 Eastman Oratorical Contest

Rick Wagner • Jan 23, 2018 at 9:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Science Hill High School junior Delia Mwinyelle plans to become a pediatric oncologist, and the $1,000 check from winning Eastman Chemical Co.’s annual Black History Month Oratorical Contest will go toward college expenses.

Her goal is partly because of her father’s cancer death two years ago and partly because of the life story of Dr. Helen Elizabeth Nash that helped her win the contest. Nash was an African American who became a doctor despite discrimination in her quest to begin a medical career.

“Those rights were a privilege she didn’t enjoy,” Delia said in her speech Tuesday at the Eastman Lodge. Delia won the contest with a speech about Nash she wrote and delivered as one of five finalists in the contest. In it, area high school students talk about the life of blacks in history. This marks the second year in a row a Science Hill student won. Kristin Kudialis won last year.

Born in Atlanta in 1921, Nash graduated high school and entered medical school despite the opposition of her father, a black physician who knew she would face discrimination from being a black and a woman. However, he relented in his opposition after her academic progress and upon graduation from medical school took a residency in St. Louis in pediatrics, where she fought against child abuse and for giving each newborn a private incubator and air-conditioning in the hospital. In 1949, she went on the staff of the Washington University School of Medicine and later became president of the St. Louis Children’s Hospital. She died in 2012.

Second place and $500 went to Volunteer’s Cheyenne Hawkins for “Eartha Kitt: The Most Exciting Woman on Earth.” Other top finishers included: third place and $300 to Volunteer’s Hunter Drinnon for “Garrett Morgan;” fourth place and $250 to Volunteer’s Abigail Hammonds for “Otis Boykin;” and fifth place and $250 to Science Hill’s Grant Wilson for “Alice Ball.” Honorable mentions were Donner Hamby and Lauren Hilston of Sullivan Central; Charise Duckworth of Dobyns-Bennett; Kallie Berry and Ambria Hagy of Gate City; home-schooler Cade Campbell; Aaron Voudrie of University High; and Sara Burnette, Addie Collier and Matt Johnson of Volunteer.
Eastman president and CEO Mark Costa said diversity and the awareness of the need for it are helped by the annual contest.

“It’s great to see more emphasis on this,” Costa said. “The way to make a difference is to stand up and speak up.” 

During the luncheon, Eastman recognized nine black employees with 40 or more years of service.

The daughter of Tina Salie Mwinyelle, Delia is a student in Advanced Placement English teacher Kiki Garmin’s junior language arts class. Delia will give her speech again Feb. 22 at a Black History Month event at the Toy F. Reid Employee Center. Nell Daymon & Greater Works, a gospel group semifinalist on “American’s Got Talent,” will perform. The free event starts at 7 p.m., and doors open at 6:15 p.m.

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