Kingsport Times-News: Dobyns-Bennett's Sam Garcia one of eight 2023 Roan Scholars

Dobyns-Bennett's Sam Garcia one of eight 2023 Roan Scholars

Rick Wagner • Feb 11, 2019 at 10:00 PM

KINGSPORT — A Dobyns-Bennett student is among the eight local high school seniors to be selected this year for the Roan Scholars Leadership Program at East Tennessee State University. The Roan Class of 2023  includes D-B’s Samuel Garcia, 17.

Garcia, the son of Thais Olmos and Rodolfo Garcia, was born in Venezuela. He recently organized a drive to send needed supplies, including food, medicine and toiletries, to that country. He is a varsity soccer player, having played all four years and earned an award for “most improved.” Passionate about chemistry and not one to shy away from the most difficult classes offered, he hopes to become a pharmacist.

“I actually have family there. Most of my family is from Venezuala and lives there,” he said.

He and his mother moved to the United States in 2011 when he was in fourth grade, going first to Weber City Elementary and then in fifth grade moving to Kingsport and Washington Elementary, followed by Sevier Middle and D-B. The supplies drive started in late 2018 in partnership with his church, Port City Baptist. Garcia, whose brother, Saul, is at ETSU, said the family used to return to Venezuela in the summer for a few years but stopped when violence made it unsafe. He said food shortages and a lack of electricity also are issues there.

He said the church pastor grew up in Venezuela and understands the unrest and problems in that country.

“We are very proud of all of the hard work Sam has put forth that led to such a remarkable accomplishment,” D-B Principal Chris Hampton said. “I have no doubt he will serve as an excellent ambassador for ETSU, much like he has for Dobyns-Bennett. We wish him much luck and success at the next level.”

The other seven seniors inducted with Garcia are Olivia Bostic of Abingdon High School; Haylie Davenport of Grainger High; Rebecca Frazier of Tuscola High in Clyde, N.C.; KeiAndra Harper of Morristown East High; Taylor Shanks of Unaka High; Nelya Stynka of Nesbitt Discovery Academy in Asheville, N.C.; and Carter Wilson of Ashe County High in Fleetwood, N.C.

Roan Scholars were chosen from among more than 100 nominees in 27 counties across Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and Western North Carolina. The incoming ETSU students will join 23 returning Roan Scholars this fall as part of the four-year scholarship program designed to challenge and inspire students to grow and develop as future leaders.

“During a demanding selection process that included a record number of nominees, these eight students demonstrated their capacity, desire and drive to be exceptional leaders,” Roan Director Scott Jeffress said. 

“This young man [Garcia], who is willing to roll up his sleeves and work alongside others, is an example of one who understands commitment and leadership,” said Wendy Wolfe, a D-B counselor.

The Roan Scholars Leadership Program empowers students to be leaders of excellence who will positively impact the ETSU campus, the Appalachian Highlands and the world, according to information from the program. It offers a comprehensive four-year program of out-of-the-classroom experiences that also includes a financial award for tuition and fees and room and board, as well as books and supplies. Funded primarily by private donations, the program was established in 1997 by Louis H. Gump.

For more information about the program, contact the Roan Scholars office at (423) 439-7677 or or go visit

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