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East Carter student wins prestigious scholarship

Ethan Tiller heading to Transy

By: Alex Knipp
for Carter County Times

East Carter High School student Ethan Tiller has been awarded the prestigious William T. Young scholarship from Transylvania University. Tiller, a senior from Grayson, was selected for the premier scholarship after a rigorous application process that included multiple rounds of essays and interviews. The full ride scholarship includes tuition and fees and is valued at over $170,000. 

Tiller has known from a young age that he wanted to work in medicine. As a child, he remembers wearing a white doctor’s coat and plastic stethoscope. His Mawmaw, who was a nurse, served as an inspiration for him.Tiller began applying for different programs that would immerse him in the medical field. Tiller was accepted as one of 20 students to participate in the Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) Program through the University of Kentucky, and he was designated a Rural Health Scholar by Northeast Kentucky Area Health Education Center. Through this, he was provided with the opportunity to shadow different healthcare professionals – from dentists, to CNAs, to doctors, this experience helped Tiller fully realize his passions. Further, he was able to perform tests in research labs. Tiller also contributed a chapter to the publication of a book, “The Cancer Crisis in Appalachia: Kentucky Students Take ACTION.”

“What’s concerning is Kentucky is #1 in cancer mortality and cancer incidents. So, we have the most cases and the most deaths from those cases. My chapter of the book focuses on industry contribution and resistance to treatment. One of the main things the University of Kentucky advocates for is early testing, and a lot of people around this area don’t want to go to the doctor.”

Tiller is also a recipient of the Governor’s Scholar Program (GSP), an esteemed summer residential program aimed at enhancing the next generation of Kentucky leaders. This program helped Tiller realize that he loved the environment and atmosphere of small classroom sizes. 

“Transy emphasized the small, close-knit community that I saw through GSP. GSP had a close-knit Socratic learning style. So, it was easy to want to fall in love with Transy, because GSP was so amazing.”

Tiller is active in his school and his larger community, whom he credited with helping his application process. While at East Carter High School, he has played soccer, basketball, baseball, and football. Tiller also volunteered extensively at Cabell Huntington Hospital. His parents, Jaime and Brad Tiller proofread his application and his school counselor Mr. Billman helped advise him as well. Jodi Conley, a community healthcare provider, also helped Tiller. 

“Jodi has taken me under her wing, because people in her family have gone to medical school and she knows the application process well.” 

In order to prepare for the interviews for the scholarship, Tiller practiced mock-style interviews with Superintendent Dr. Dotson to enhance his public speaking skills. 

Another area that helped Tiller’s application was ACT practice. The average ACT score of recipients of the Young Scholarship is above 31. Tiller participated in the ACT Mom program twice while at East Carter and he frequently joined ACT tutoring sessions offered by the district. 

“I really think that continuous practice is what helped. The ACT is just a test, it does not define you, but it certainly helps in a lot of ways.”

On succeeding in a rural area, Tiller encouraged students to not lose motivation. 

“You have to try; you can’t use what you don’t have as an excuse. You have to use what you don’t have as motivation or incentive for why you should be in these programs. You have to market yourself to these places. Remember, if you seek out these opportunities, people want you to succeed. Especially being from this rural area, a lot of people are going to back you when it comes to trying to get a higher education or trying to make a difference. You may have to look a bit harder for the opportunities, but they’re definitely there.”

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