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The NISWONGER FOUNDATION, founded by Greeneville, Tennessee businessman and philanthropist Scott M. Niswonger, has selected five high school seniors to join the Niswonger Scholars program.  Currently, there are 19 Niswonger Scholars, with the newly selected students for 2018 bringing the total to 24.  The Foundation also has 67 Alumni of the program.

Niswonger Scholars are selected through a nomination process that seeks to identify the region’s best and brightest future leaders.  They are given the opportunity to attend the college or university that will best prepare them for success in their field of study, while participating in a four-year leadership program. Through an emphasis on leadership, educational excellence, business management, community service and ethical decision making, the Scholars are provided travel, training, internships, and personalized support to become model leaders and citizens. 

Unique to other scholarships, the goal of the Niswonger Scholars program is to identify and develop leaders for Northeast Tennessee. These students commit to returning to Northeast Tennessee to work in their chosen career path, one year for each year they receive our scholarship.  The plan is that by enabling these students to pursue their academic passion and by cultivating their leadership abilities, they will be committed to returning to the region as catalysts for the growth and improvement in their home communities.

The five new Northeast Tennessee Scholars are Sarah Douthat, West Greene High School; Alexis Harvey, Unicoi County High School; Jasmine Martin, Morristown East High School; Aubrie Strange, Cocke County High School; Rithvik Vutukuri, Dobyns-Bennett High School.

Sarah Elizabeth Douthat attends West Greene High School. She serves as senior class vice president, was junior class president, and is the student representative for the Greene County School Board. She is vice president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, vice president of First Priority, and chairman of the Parliamentary Procedure team. She has served as secretary, vice president and president of the Future Farmers of America. She was voted “Best All Round” by the senior class.  She is a member of National Honor Society, National English Honor Society and National Society for High School Seniors.  In service to her community she volunteers with Special Olympics, Samaritan’s Purse-Operation Christmas Child Processing Plant, School Clean up Days, and the McDonald Outreach Center. She is a Vacation Bible School teacher. Sarah is the daughter of Beth Douthat and the late Mark Douthat.

Alexis Renee Harvey is a senior at Unicoi County High School. She is president and section leader of the marching band, senior class secretary and homeroom representative for Student Council. She is a member of National Honor Society, Beta Club, Book Club, Spanish Club and Student’s Against Destructive Decisions (SADD). She served as secretary for the Christian Student Union. She served as the Chick-Fil-A Leader Academy secretary. She is a Track and Field athlete.  Her awards include, Chemistry II Award and the Marching Band’s Most Excellent Junior Award.  Alexis is the daughter of Crystal Winston.

Jasmine Nicole Martin is a student at Morristown East High School. She is a member of Student Council, Spanish Club and Science Club.  She is a Scholars Bowl participant and has been on the honor roll every year since starting school. She was selected as the only middle school student from her school to participate in the Hamblen County High School Scholarship program. Her other awards include, AP English Award and AP Scholar Award. She serves her community by mentoring at Meadowview Middle School, and is employed with two part-time jobs.

Aubrie Claire Strange attends Cocke County High School with a 4.0 GPA.  She is an AP Scholar with Honors, and a Furman Scholar. She is Student Body President, serves as Key Club historian, Cocke County FFA chapter vice president, Spanish Club treasurer, Beta Club secretary, and National Honor Society historian. Aubrie is Yearbook editor and Debate Club assistant clerk. She was a National Qualifier in the Future Business Leaders of America Agribusiness Competition. She serves her community through work with Tennessee’s Babies with Special Needs, the Key Club, Volunteer Riders of Knoxville, and CCHS Red Regiment.  Aubrie is the daughter of John and Kim Strange.

Rithvik Vutukuri is a student at Dobyns-Bennett High School. He ranks first in his class and has a 4.0 GPA.  He is a National Merit Semifinalist. Rithvik received the AP Psychology Award, is a National AP Scholar, and an AP Scholar with Distinction. He serves as president of the Student Council, and is President of both Mu Alpha Theta and the Beta Club. He is a builder, designer and programmer in Robotics, participated in the Science Olympiad and the National Science Bowl. He plays varsity tennis.  He serves his community through Holston Valley Medical Center, H.O.T.S. (Higher Order Thinking Skills), Operation Gratitude, Middle School Math Day and Rubiks Cube Lessons. Rithvik is the son of Suresh and Sunitha Vutukuri.

Established in 2001, the Niswonger Foundation has a mission “To create opportunities for individual and community growth through education.”  In addition to the Scholarship and Leadership program, the Niswonger Foundation supports educational programs in seventeen Northeast Tennessee school systems. With the motto of “Learn-Earn-Return,” the programs of the foundation are supported by charitable donations, grant funding and personal contributions from Scott M. Niswonger.

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