Roan Mountain teen selected for NY Times Academy

Published 4:21 pm Friday, May 11, 2018

This summer, a Roan Mountain teen will get the experience of a lifetime after being selected to attend the School of the New York Times Summer Academy.

Audrey Elise Nidiffer is a 14-year-old student who is full of energy and a passion for learning. It was that passion that led her to apply to the School of the New York Times Summer Academy.

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“We were listening to the radio, and National Public Radio had a spotlight on the program,” Nidiffer said. The story caught her interest, and about a week later when she heard the story again while listening to NPR she decided she wanted to apply.

“At Christmas my sister came over and helped me apply for it,” Nidiffer said. Her family has been very supportive of her during the application process and while waiting to learn if she had been chosen.

“We weren’t sure anything was going to happen, so we didn’t get our hopes too high,” Nidiffer said.

On the day the New York Times was to announce the names of those selected, Nidiffer said they waited for the email to hit her inbox. After waiting for a while and receiving nothing, Nidiffer began to believe she had not been chosen. She had to leave her home to go somewhere, but shortly after leaving she heard from her mother.

“She called me and said, you need to check our email right now,” Nidiffer recalled. When she opened her email and saw the message telling her she had been chosen that is when the excitement began to set in. But, just a short time later the arrival of a second email which was unexpected turned the excitement to elation.

Admission to the program is highly competitive, and Nidiffer was not only selected to participate in the program, she also garnered a $2,000 scholarship to help defer the costs of attending.

“To not only be accepted but just a few minutes later to find out I had received a scholarship to cover a large portion of it was very exciting to us,” Nidiffer said. “It’s very expensive to go, and that was a major concern.”

To help raise the remainder of the money needed for the trip, Nidiffer started a GoFundMe account and began doing odd jobs for people in her church and her local community. She baked bread, sold jewelry, cleaned houses, and cared for people’s pets.

“Our church family really helped a lot,” she said, adding they gave her jobs to do which allowed her to earn the money instead of simply asking for donations.

According to information from the New York Times on the program, “Our NYC Summer Academy gives intellectually curious high school students the opportunity to live and learn in New York City while studying topics in journalism, media, technology, arts, culture, sports, fashion, business, science and more. Each two-week course draws on the expertise and unrivaled access of The New York Times and encourages students to take their learning beyond the classroom and into the real world.”

Nidiffer will attend the program from June 10 through June 22 in New York City.

Audrey Nidiffer is the daughter of Brant and Juanita Nidiffer, of Roan Mountain. Brant serves as the pastor for Roan Mountain United Methodist Church. Nidiffer is primarily a homeschool student, but this year she began taking classes part-time at Cloudland High School, where she studies science and Spanish.