Roan Scholars to accept direct applications

ETSU’s Roan Scholars during a trip to Nashville. The program has announced it will be accepting direct applications from high school students for the first time.

High school seniors throughout the region will have the opportunity to apply directly for the Roan Scholars Leadership Program at East Tennessee State University beginning in fall 2021.
Since the Roan selected its first class 20 years ago, students have been required to be nominated by their high school in order to be considered for the prestigious four-year scholarship program. The Roan has expanded to more than 90 high schools in 27 counties across Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and Western North Carolina, but has remained limited to nominees from those schools. A new policy approved by the Roan Steering Committee removes that limitation.

“Our existing nomination process has served the program well, and we enjoy working with high school counselors and administrators each fall as they identify some of their top students as Roan nominees,” said Roan Director Scott Jeffress. “But we also recognize that we’re missing some amazing students who aren’t nominated, and we’re hearing from an increasing number of students who would like the chance to be considered. This new policy makes the Roan accessible to even more outstanding students throughout the region and enhances our ability to attract and select exceptional young leaders.”   

Eligible high schools will continue to nominate 1-2 top students for the Roan each fall and, as in past years, those nominees will be invited to participate in regional interviews. Direct applications will be evaluated to determine which of those applicants will move forward to the regional interview stage. Homeschooled students and students attending a virtual academy will also be part of the direct application pool. 

For the Roan’s founder, Mr. Louie Gump, the new policy marks an important milestone in the program’s history. 

“The Roan Program has always focused on attracting, retaining and developing the region’s best leadership talent,” Gump said. “This initiative allows us to continue working with school leaders to identify that talent, and also opens up the process so that even more of these outstanding student-leaders can apply to be Roan Scholars. We are excited about students having this opportunity and look forward to this fall.”

Nominations and direct applications for fall 2021 will open in early August 2021. Direct applicants must reside in one of the 27 qualifying counties. More information about application requirements and instructions will be provided on the Roan website at
The Roan Scholars Leadership Program, which is funded primarily by private donations, empowers students to be leaders of excellence who will positively impact the ETSU campus, our region, and the world. The Roan offers four years of unique, out-of-the-classroom experiences and opportunities designed to challenge and inspire students to grow and develop as leaders. The scholarship also includes a financial award for tuition and fees, room and board, and books. 

Questions should be directed to the Roan office at 423.439.7677 or


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