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       Dustin                  Katie             Matthew             Raini                 Sam


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 18 Niswonger Scholars, with the newly selected students for 2013 bringing the total to 23.  The Foundation also has 44 alumni of the program.

The Niswonger Foundation’s guiding philosophy of “Learn, Earn and Return” is firmly embedded in the Niswonger Scholars program.  The program takes the brightest young leaders in Northeast Tennessee, provides them the opportunity to attend the college or university that will best prepare them for their chosen career, and supplements that education with four years of leadership development activities. The plan is to see Niswonger Scholars come back to the region with not only strong earning potential, but an entrepreneurial spirit and overwhelming desire to return their talents and energy to this region. The goal is that at the end of their experience as Niswonger Scholars, they will embody the values most important to the mission of the Foundation:  exceptional leadership ability, exemplary personal character, and a strong commitment to building community.


The five new Northeast Tennessee Scholars are Sam Brashears, Sullivan North High School; Matthew Grimm, Daniel Boone High School; Dustin Howser, Tennessee High School; Raini Rowenhorst, David Crockett High School; and Katie Shields, Pigeon Forge High School.  

Samuel “Sam” Lucas Brashears, a student at Sullivan North High School, has maintained a 4.0 grade point average and is ranked first in his class.  He has served as Vice President and President of Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), placing 2nd in the HOSA Bowl Regional Competition and 5th at the 2012 State Convention. He is Senior Class Vice President.  Sam has received the Sullivan North Scholar Athlete Award for the past three years, and has been recognized as “Top 5 Member” of the Tennessee Association of Student Councils’ “4-Star Student Council.”  He has participated in varsity cross-country, track and basketball.  He is the founding member of the Sullivan North Robotics Team. His plans are to attend Wake Forest University, major in Biology, and attend medical school. Sam is the son of Candra Brashears of Kingsport and Samuel Brashears of Whitesburg, Kentucky.   

Matthew Johann Grimm is a student at Daniel Boone High School.  He has maintained a 4.0 grade point average.  Strongly focused on community service, Matthew has assisted Read Across America, Shoe Boxes for Soldiers, St Jude’s Children’s Hospital, God’s Kitchen, and numerous projects through his church. He is a member of the Academic Team, Beta Club, and National Honor Society.  He uses his musical talents in a worship team and runs sound systems for several community organizations.  He is a Sunday School teacher and a student leader in his church’s youth ministry. His goal is to attend the University of Tennessee - Knoxville, pursue an undergraduate degree in nursing or a science related field, and attend medical school. He is the son of Calvin and Elaine Grimm of Gray. 

Dustin Cole Howser attends Tennessee High School.  He is ranked first in his class and maintains a 4.0 grade point average.  He is Editor in Chief for the THS Yearbook, graduate of the Bristol Youth Leadership program, and is Student Technology Assistant for the Bristol Tennessee City School System. He is the Discus Awards Winner for Arts, and a National Society of High School Scholars member. Dustin has many musical interests to his credit including, session leader for nationally signed Phoenix Records recording artist, Brad Puckett, lead guitarist for local rock and blues group, Cadence, and guitarist with the Tennessee High Symphonic Jazz Band, and is a songwriter. He will be attending Vanderbilt University, majoring in mechanical engineering. He is the son of Tim and Darlene Howser of Bristol, Tennessee. 

Raini Mae Rowenhorst is a student at David Crockett High School. She has served as Vice President and Reporter for the Future Farmers of America (FFA), receiving FFA honors including the Star Greenhand Award, Most Outstanding Member, and Best Leader. She was selected to participate in the Student Congress on Policies in Education (SCOPE). She has received awards as Outstanding English Student and Outstanding Mathematics Student. She serves as activities director for the DCHS Civinettes and is Secretary of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Raini’s plans are to attend the University of Tennessee - Knoxville and major in psychology. She is the daughter of Corby and Diane Rowenhorst of Jonesborough. 

Kaitlyn “Katie” Joy Shields attends Pigeon Forge High School, is ranked first in her class, and maintains a 4.0 grade point average.  She is President of the Leo Club, National Honor Society Treasurer, Beta Club Vice President and FFA Reporter.  She attended Governor’s School for Prospective Teachers at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. She lettered in basketball, softball and cross country.  She serves as a volunteer with various organizations including, as a tutor for the Boys and Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, Toys for Tots, and with her local soup kitchen. Katie plans to attend the University of Tennessee - Knoxville and pursue a degree in agricultural education. She is the daughter of Brigitte Shields of Pigeon Forge and William Shields of Sevierville. 

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