Area High School Alumni Take on the World
Having grown up with a love of all things sports, Graham knew from a young age that working in the sports arena was what he wanted to do. Graham graduated from East Tennessee State University in May of 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in sport and leisure management. While in Johnson City, he put his passion to use interning for the Johnson City Cardinals, a minor league affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Graham is now a member of the Chattanooga Lookouts’ front office staff as ticket operations manager and hopes to continue his education by pursuing his MBA.
Chris was attending Belmont University as a Gates Millennium Scholar when he auditioned for the dual role of Marquis de LaFayette/Thomas Jefferson in the Chicago production of “Hamilton: An American Musical.” He won the role and performed for almost a year and a half at Chicago’s PrivateBank Theatre. His performance has been praised by critics, and the show has drawn huge crowds since opening in September 2016. Chris left the Chicago cast in January 2018 to join the national touring company for “Hamilton,” which will be performing across the country including a run at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta.
Studying economics and political science, Danielle graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 2012. She then decided to move to China, teaching English at Sichuan University. In 2014, Danielle returned to the states and began law school, where she volunteered her time at the Community Tax Law Project. She graduated from the University of Richmond Law School in 2017 in the top 25% of her class. After graduation, she was immediately recruited by the IRS to work as a tax attorney. Danielle continues to work for the IRS and resides in Alexandria, Virginia.
Ryan studied physics at Austin Peay State University, earning the President’s Emerging Leaders Scholarship. After getting the chance to study electronics at Mid Sweden University and work with the FDA through The Washington Center, Ryan decided to pursue his PhD in engineering at Florida State University, focusing on the development of a cheaper and more efficient solar device for clean energy applications. His work in clean energy has resulted in multiple publications in international journals such as Renewable Energy Focus and Advanced Materials Interfaces.
As head of paid media and growth labs at Toptal, a fully remote software company, Zach is realizing his dream of traveling the world full-time. He spent the past year living in a new country every month, experiencing different cultures across Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Before Toptal, Zach graduated from Vanderbilt University and then worked at Google on their accelerated growth team, partnering with dozens of startups to grow their presence across the internet. Zach is also a freelance growth consultant and software developer, and he has worked on a variety of Silicon Valley startup projects. Through his worldwide adventures, he has found a passion in travel photography.
Bailey is giving back to her alma mater on the basketball court and in the classroom. After graduating from Tennessee Wesleyan University, Bailey took over the struggling girls’ basketball program at Red Bank and has restored it back to the standard she helped set while she was a star player. She has been named “Coach of the Year” in her district and has guided her team to district titles during her four seasons as coach. Bailey’s influence also carries over into the classroom, where she implements instructional strategies that best support students with various learning types.
Bradley Central’s standout quarterback had a big decision to make his senior year – where to play college ball. Cole ultimately chose the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, beginning the 2017 season as a redshirt freshman on the Chattanooga Mocs football team. Yet his time in the spotlight soon came after setbacks with the top two quarterbacks, and Cole took over the last six games of the year, completing 130 of 207 attempts for seven touchdowns. He holds the record for third-most completions, second-most attempts, and third-most passing touchdowns by a UTC freshman. He was honored by being named to the All-Southern Conference’s All-Freshman Team.
Gracie will graduate in spring 2018 with honors and a Bachelor of Science in biology from Shorter University. After graduation, she plans to attend medical school at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine at Auburn University to pursue her lifelong goal of becoming a rheumatologist and owning her own practice in Chattanooga. Last summer, Gracie conducted medical research as an intern at the University of Arkansas, where she analyzed the formation of chemicals in cooked beef and its correlation to type 2 diabetes.
A 2017 graduate of Bowdoin College with degrees in biology and visual arts, Katie has found a way to combine her passions for animals and art. She works for a veterinarian’s office, interns at the Atlanta Zoo, and runs her own business, Savage Mountain Art & Design – an outlet for prints, stationery, and apparel featuring her hand-printed animal artwork. A percentage of the profits from her business go toward wildlife conservation and organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund. Katie’s artwork has also been featured in several exhibitions at Bowdoin College.
Keith is enjoying his first season on the PGA Tour, having earned a one-year PGA Tour card by finishing sixth at the Web.com Tour’s DAP Championship last September. He previously participated in both the Web.com Tour and the PGA Tour Latinoamérica. A graduate of the University of Georgia, where he was an All-American, Keith holds degrees in business and real estate. He is one of four Baylor graduates on the PGA Tour.
One of two teachers in Tennessee to receive the national Milken Educator Award for the 2017-18 school year, Paula is being recognized for her positive influence and exceptional work in the classroom. Paula teaches at West High School in Knoxville, where she mentors new teachers and stays involved in her students’ extracurricular activities. With an 82% pass rate on the AP Government exam, her students well exceed the national average, thanks in part to her high expectations and challenging assignments. Paula is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science; she later earned a Master of Science in teacher education and an Ed.S. in instructional leadership.
Known by his company as the “lead data wrangler,” Blake has become an accomplished software engineer following his graduation from Harvard in 2013. With expertise in designing and scaling machine learning-based applications, he worked at ZipRecruiter before founding Cairn Labs, an AI (artificial intelligence) solutions company, with a long-time friend. Cairn Labs specializes in designing machine learning systems for a variety of clients, ranging from pop star will.i.am’s commercial chatbot to an automated CT scan classification. Blake currently resides in Los Angeles, California.
Passionate about justice since childhood, Coty pursued a career in law and focused on criminal law, believing it to be the field in which she could have the most impact on society. After attending the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and later the University of Tennessee College of Law, she served as a defense attorney in the Hamilton County public defender’s office. Her current role as an assistant district attorney general allows her to contribute solutions to community issues. Coty is an active member of the Tennessee State Bar and aspires to run for local office in the future.
From the halls of Walker Valley to the football field at the University of Georgia, Neyland is working toward his long-term goal of being a director of football operations. Neyland was the head football manager at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville until his graduation in the spring of 2017. He was then hired by Georgia to work in football operations, where he assists head coach Kirby Smart. Whether assisting with budgeting, bringing food to the coaching staff, or picking up a player from the airport, Neyland feels fortunate to be learning from some of the best people in the industry.
Raewyn is a Pathways student engineer with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) SwampWorks at Kennedy Space Center; SwampWorks is a lab that conducts research and rapid prototyping of robotic systems that may one day explore space. Raewyn’s focus is computer engineering and autonomous control for ground robotics. Previously, she served as a systems engineer intern at NASA and a software engineer intern at Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque. She is pursuing her second master’s degree (in electrical and computer engineering) from Carnegie Mellon University.
What began as a stint as Student Association President, among his other leadership roles, at Collegedale Academy led Ethan down the winding path of politics. In 2014, while still a student at Southern Adventist University, Ethan was elected to the Collegedale City Commission – making him one of the youngest elected officials in Hamilton County. In the fall of 2017, he was elected the chairman of the Tennessee Young Republicans. In addition to serving Collegedale, Ethan works as a realtor with RE/MAX Properties. He has plans to run for re-election for the Collegedale Commission in the fall of 2018.
LaKesha earned her master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2016. She has been teaching middle and high school language arts to inner-city students since 2012, which she sees as an opportunity to give back to the upcoming generation – pouring into them the way her teachers poured life into her. She plans to pursue a path toward administration within the next few years.
For her senior project in high school, Breanna worked with many of Chattanooga’s homeless through the Union Gospel Mission. She then began volunteering at the Northside Neighborhood House, which led to a full-time position as children’s education director in January 2017 – all while she pursued her degree in psychology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Breanna primarily works with elementary and middle school students, providing both social and emotional learning support in their classrooms.
In his time at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Nick founded a conservative student publication, called The Volunteer Review, which reaches 30,000 readers. Since the publication’s creation, he has become a successful talk radio host on a Fox News affiliate station with a listening audience of 35,000. Nick has also appeared in numerous leadership publications and is a senior leadership coach for Georgia Future Business Leaders of America. Now in his junior year at UTK, he is studying political science and international economics. His future plans involve radio as well as politics.