Student selected for McWherter Center leadership class
Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Updated: Thursday, January 12, 2012 14:01
Abbie Fuqua, a UTM senior education major, joined a select group of 14 college students this fall as she was chosen to participate in the Ned McWherter Center for Rural Development 2011-12 Leadership Class. Fuqua, who plans to become a schoolteacher, was the only UTM student selected.
USDA Rural Development announced federal support for the leadership class in November. The Rural Business Enterprise Grant of $25,000 will be matched by $25,000 in contributions from the center to train West Tennessee college students in public service and leadership, ultimately improving the economic health of the communities they call home.
Bobby Goode, USDA Rural Development state director, joined state Sen. Roy Herron, president of the Ned McWherter Center, in making the announcement. "The McWherter Scholars are among West Tennessee's very best students and our future leaders," said Herron. "Every dollar we invest in their education will repay our region multi-fold."
Colleges nominated students for the class, initial interviews were held, and a committee made the final selection.
The group began meeting monthly in October and will continue through spring semester 2012.
Activities include team-building exercises and a group project that will focus on actions to help rural areas overcome economic challenges.
The group is learning about issues affecting West Tennessee and is meeting leaders from around the region.
"I was very excited to be chosen," said Fuqua, a Martin native. "This program has been so beneficial. It's been great to meet students from other local colleges."
When she graduates in May, Fuqua will be licensed to teach kindergarten through 6th grade. She's a member of Chi Omega Sorority and served two years as vice president of Kappa Delta Pi, the education honor society.
She was also a Peer Enabling Program leader and and a member of the university's Summer Orientation and Registration staff. PEP is a three-phase program that assists UTM freshmen with the transition to college life and includes SOAR, which provides freshmen a head start on fall semester by offering registration and other orientation activities. UTM students are selected to staff these programs.
Created in 2008, the Ned McWherter Center for Rural Development selects a small group of college students each year to participate in a demanding leadership program.
Participants must have a 3.5 grade point average, be a West Tennessee native, attend a college in West Tennessee and have a strong desire for public service.
"It is an honor for my family to be associated with such an outstanding program that develops the future leaders of our state," said Mike McWherter, son of the late Ned McWherter. "The center's administration understands the importance of education and training in the continued efforts to improve the lives of Tennesseans and with their help, the McWherter Scholars Program will brighten the future of Tennessee for years to come."