Northeast State Community College graduate Elizabeth “Beth” Ross, ’13, has won the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship for 2013.
“It is a huge honor to receive this scholarship,” says Ross, of Blountville. “I am truly grateful to be recognized by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.”
Ross was chosen as one of only 73 scholarship recipients from more than 750 applications submitted to the Foundation from two-year colleges around the country. She is only the second Northeast State student to win this coveted scholarship.
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. Even more impressive is how Ross balanced college life while being a full-time mother to her son and daughter.
While at Northeast State, Ross seized the opportunities to grow personally and professionally. She enrolled in the Honors Program, joined Toastmasters, and served as student advisor to the 2012-2013 Northeast State Debate Team.
More impressive is how much Ross accomplished while battling a severe health problem – now in remission – that sapped not only her health but her self-confidence, too. 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 advisor, 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,” said Ross. “Jane really believed in my 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,” said Honeycutt. “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 chapter.
“Honestly, she’s taught me a lot,” said Honeycutt 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.”
Ross cited the Honors Program courses as an example of the constructive learning environment Northeast State created between faculty and students. The collaborative learning between professor and fellow students benefited students who wanted a dynamic learning experience from college.
“As a first generation college student, it is important for me that my children have a good example to pattern themselves after so that they can find success in their lives as well,” said Ross. “Ultimately, I want to keep growing as a person so that I can put myself into a position to help others.”