County Mayor delivers commencement, presents scholarships

Published 11:44 pm Monday, May 17, 2021

Four county high school students will have an additional $500 of scholarship money as they enter college in the fall thanks to Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby who is personally funding the scholarships out of her own pocket as an opportunity to give back.

The first four recipients of the Mayor Patty Woodby Scholarship for 2021 were Hampton High School senior Joseph Jenkins, Unaka High School senior Abbie Grindstaff, Cloudland High School senior Monica Benfield, and Happy Valley High School senior Elijah Ayers.

Woodby will continue to fund the scholarships as long as she is in the office of Mayor.

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The scholarship is for $500 to each student and is financial need-based for post-secondary school ( TCAT, NESCC or 4-year university) to use towards college needs. The guidelines for this particular student is as follows:

-Average GPA ( 3.0 and above).

-Enrollment at any educational institution ( must be enrolled for Fall semester 2021).

– Achievement in the field of public or community service.

– Demonstrates financial need.

– Good attendance (no suspensions).

– Good all-around student to his/her peers and staff/teachers at the school.

Woodby said one of the reasons that she decided to start the scholarship with her own money was a way of her giving back.

“I wanted an opportunity to give back. I decided what better way to do that than to offer a financial need-based scholarship for college expenses,” Mayor Woodby said. “This is a great way for me to help families with college expenses along with recognizing a student for their hard work and accomplishments.

“This past year has been so hard on so many children and families. Whether it’s job loss, virtual learning, or loss of a loved one. I want my community to know that I care and I want us all to be successful but the continuing future of Carter Co starts with our children and their education.

“I am proud to support those accomplishments and I always will!”

While there are some opportunities for scholarship money available to students, with the cost of post-high school education, an extra boost of dollars no matter how large or small can benefit those students who are selected.

Mayor Woodby shared that she understood firsthand the stress and worry that parents go through worrying about how they will pay for tuition, purchase books, or a laptop as college is an expensive undertaking.

“These types of scholarships no matter how small or large release some of that worry off these parents and that’s what I hope to continue to do with this scholarship,” Mayor Woodby shared. “This investment to a graduating student is priceless to me.

“I want them to dream big! I cannot wait to see how they use their education, experiences, and unique perspective to make our world a better place.”

Mayor Woodby also was excited to be presenting the commencement address at Hampton High School, her alma mater.

She was asked if she ever imagined when she was attending high school at Hampton High School that she would one day be the Mayor of Carter County.

“No, I certainly never imagined this,” Mayor Woodby stated. “I still every day pinch myself to make sure it’s real. I have been blessed with this opportunity and I plan to work hard to continue to make Carter Co. a great place to live.

“I also hope that I can encourage our young generation that no matter what background you come from, no matter what your financial situation may be to not get discouraged, work hard, and stay the course – it will pay off.”

Mayor Woodby said she hoped to deliver a message of pride, encouragement, perseverance, and a great sense of accomplishment to the graduating Hampton High School Class of 2021.

“Graduating high school is not where you stop – it’s just where you begin,” the Mayor added.