Hena Yakoob had complex reasons for coming to East Tennessee State University.
She is a University Honors Scholar and a junior majoring in health sciences with a concentration in microbiology and a minor in Spanish. However, the Lebanon, Virginia, native says the Honors Scholarship was not her main reason for coming to ETSU.
She says, "To be completely honest, every time I am asked why I chose to go to ETSU, I pause. I pause because this simple question does not come with a simple answer for me. In the past I have answered people simply with 'I'm on a scholarship,' or 'both my sisters graduated here,' but in my heart I always know that my real reason for coming to ETSU is much different than most would imagine.
"My father passed away a few days before my junior year in high school, and I realized that I would never be able to handle leaving my family so soon afterward to attend some far-away university. ETSU seemed to work well for my sisters and was within a reasonable distance from home, so I planted myself down in Johnson City."
Yakoob is happy with her decision. She says, "Although the responsibilities attached to being in the University Honors Scholars program can sometimes get overwhelming, it has been an incredibly rewarding experience. The Honors College has had a huge role in shaping not only my academic life, but also my personal one. Some of the people I have met through the Honors College, both classmates and professors, have truly become like a second family to me. I never dreamed of finding that in college, but now that I have it, I would not trade it for the world."
A very active student, Yakoob is the president of the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students (MAPS), as well as a member of the President's Pride service honorary, International Buccaneer Buddies, and Coalition for Kids.
She especially enjoys her work with Dance Marathon at ETSU and serving as the organization's financial chair. "Our cause with the Children's Miracle Network has become a large commitment in my life, but it is definitely more than worth it," she says. "The moment I saw the smile on one of the faces of our Miracle Kids at our first event last year was when I knew we were doing something great. Raising over $18,000 'For The Kids' in our first year of existence on campus was only the icing on the cake."
Yakoob plans medical school as her next step after graduation and a year off to work and travel. She explains, "For now, my goal is to become a doctor of internal medicine, but I may decide to go into some subspecialty as I get deeper into the field. I would like to look back on my life one day and know that I have done some good for the world, and I believe being a doctor will help me achieve that. It may sound corny, but that's where my passion lies."
Caitlin Cherry was drawn to East Tennessee State University because of its Honors College and the "unbelievable opportunities" she could not find anywhere else. And she has not been disappointed.
The University Honors Scholar is a junior nursing student from Kingsport and a graduate of Sullivan South High School.
"The Honors College is a family," Cherry said. "The people who work there will really advocate for you."
She looks forward to writing her honors thesis, which is the capstone project for ETSUs Honors Scholars.
"I will find a topic Im passionate about and want to research," Cherry says, adding that she is currently looking for an adviser. "I love research, so I know Ill enjoy that project!"
In addition to her core and nursing coursework, Cherry has particularly enjoyed her courses in marksmanship and art philosophy, and looks forward to taking women's studies courses in the future.
Outside the classroom, she works on campus as an assistant resident director at Lucille Clement Hall. She is also active as secretary/treasurer of the National Residence Hall Honorary and a member of Presidents Pride, the honorary service organization that assists ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland at official functions at Shelbridge, the University's presidential residence, as well as commencement ceremonies and many other campus happenings.
"I really enjoy the diversity of things I can be part of," Cherry said. "I can have this great job in Housing while doing undergraduate research, going to group fitness classes, and just having a fun college life. I also love meeting people from around the world.
"I love it here," she continued. "The longer Im here, the more I love it. I really like the direction the University is going with the (Committee for) 125 effort."
Once she graduates, Cherry will most likely pursue a masters degree, and perhaps a doctorate. "I want to travel, find different jobs, and see the world through my work," she says.