Kathleen Wilson receives Boyd S. Ray scholarship at Northeast State

The wishes of a late Johnson County farmer and philanthropist continue to be realized at Northeast State Community College where the first scholarship established in his name was awarded this fall.

Kathleen Wilson, of Mountain City, received the Boyd S. Ray Scholarship this fall. She was selected through a competitive process based on her academic achievement.

“I am so grateful to receive this scholarship and to the Boyd S. Ray family,” said Wilson.

Wilson graduated from Johnson County High School in 2008. She is majoring in education and she plans to transfer to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She enrolled in Northeast State at Elizabethton after hearing good things about the College from her high school welding teacher. 

“I have had a blast here,” she said. “You are mixed in with a lot of people especially with older students who have been in the workforce and will give you a lot of knowledge about the work world.”

Active in Future Farmers of America as a high school student, Wilson raises and trains American quarter horses at her family’s Triple W Farms. She credits her parents with providing her with the learning tools she needed in high school to make informed decisions about going to college.

Wilson’s talents on a horse include roping a steer, riding barrel races, and competing in the Ashe County, N.C., horse show circuit. She also gives horseback riding lessons to children and adults which fueled her desire to major in education. Wilson said teaching the art of riding a horse came easier to some of her students than others.

“Teaching a five-year-old to ride a horse is so much easier than teaching an adult,” she said. “Like the old saying goes, if you pursue something you love you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Boyd S. Ray grew up and resided in Johnson County for most of his life. His rather adventurous adulthood included careers as a pilot, farmer, author, cattleman, business leader, World War II veteran, philanthropist, and actor. 

He was charter President of the Mountain City Junior Chamber of Commerce, president of the Johnson County Farm Bureau, member of the board of directors of Tri-State Growers and the Mountain Breeders Association. Ray endowed a scholarship to Northeast State shortly before his death in December of 2005.

The Northeast State Foundation offers more than 80 scholarship opportunities. The deadline is March 1 to apply for scholarships awarded for the 2010-2011 academic year.

“The best thing anyone can do is go look and apply for financial aid and be a better student,” said Wilson. “There is no excuse to say I can’t.”