Walters, Fields awarded Dr. E.E. Perry Memorial Scholarships

Published 8:02 am Friday, May 25, 2018

A pair of local graduates were honored for their achievements both in and out of the classroom on Thursday during a special reception hosted by the East Tennessee Foundation.

During Thursday’s celebration, the Foundation honored the 2018 recipients of the Dr. E.E. Perry Memorial Scholarship — Jaida Walters and Ethan Fields.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“We are so proud of you and want you to succeed,” said Beth Heller, ETF Director of Scholarship Programs.

The Dr. E.E. Perry Memorial Scholarship scholarship was established in 2014 when Perry provided for a scholarship endowment in his will to assist exceptional students from Carter County who intend to pursue math, science, engineering or medical fields of study. To be eligible students had to be graduating seniors from a Carter County public high school, Elizabethton High School, homeschool or a GED recipient. The student had to have a minimum 3.0 grade point average, be enrolled full time at an accredited college or university in Tennessee and must demonstrate financial need. Perry, in his will, selected the East Tennessee Foundation to oversee the scholarship endowment.

The scholarship is highly competitive as those selected will receive $10,000 each year for four years. To retain their scholarship, Walters and Fields will have to maintain a 3.0 grade point average or higher while carrying a full-time course load at their college.

Walters is a 2018 graduate of Unaka High School, where she graduated with a 3.9 GPA, was in the top 10 percent of her class, was recognized as a State Honors Graduate, and earned a Work Ethic Diploma. During her time in high school, Walters was very involved with and held leadership positions in student organizations and community involvement activities. She served as President for the UHS Key Club for two years for which she was awarded the Kentucky-Tennessee District Key Club “Most Outstanding President” award. She was also President of the Health Occupations Students of America chapter, Vice President of the National Honor Society, and a member of the yearbook staff.

During her time in high school, Walters accumulated more than 300 hours of community service, which included volunteer work with the Clean Teens of Carter County, Second Harvest Food Bank, United Way, and the Ronald McDonald House. She organized two community-wide “Trunk or Treat” events, two community-wide coat drives, and planned and executed county-wide toy drives.

According to Walters, the most rewarding part of her community service is knowing that she has helped make a difference. “When I look back on life, I want to be able to look at the lives I have changed and bettered,” she said.

After experiencing challenges in her home life, Walters used those experiences to motivate her. “Going through these struggles in life, I have learned that it does not matter where you come from, but where you steer yourself to end up,” Walters said. “I want to serve as an advocate for the children who grow up in similar situations. I want to show them that you do not have to follow the path that seems as if it has been paved for you. The only person in control of your future is you. If you have dreams, do not be afraid to take the steps to reach them.”

Walters will be attending East Tennessee State University where she will be studying nursing.

Fields is a 2018 graduate of Elizabethton High School, where he graduated with a 4.0 GPA.

During his time in high school, Fields was involved in several school and community activities. He served as Captain of both the Cross Country and the Track and Field teams, participated in the Student Government Association, the Milligan Youth Leadership Program, was a Lead Designer and driver in the Solar Go-Kart challenge, a member of the National Honor Society, and volunteered with the Mini Miracles special needs pediatric support group, all while holding down a part-time job in addition to his studies.

According to Fields, on his road to taking on a leadership position with his athletic teams, he learned the importance of supporting others and what an impact that can make. Fields said he struggled socially as a sophomore in high school, but two seniors on the team encouraged him and treated him with kindness and respect. After they graduated, Fields said he felt alone for a time before deciding to carry on what they had shown to him.

“I would be to someone else what they were to me,” Fields said. “I was determined to be like them.”

During Thursday’s celebration, two friends of the late Dr. Perry spoke about his love of learning and his desire to help others have the same educational opportunities he was able to secure.

“He was a very brilliant and somewhat controversial character in this community, but he really cared about the kids,” said Frank Newman. “He came from real poverty and made quite a life for himself.”

Bill Hampton described Perry as “very intellectual” and excellent conversationalist.

“He had an astounding command of a variety of subjects,” Hampton recalled. “He was a life-long learner until the day he died. He wanted lives to be enriched by learning.