Area High School Alumni Take on the World
These graduates have accomplished incredible things and enjoyed great successes since their high school years. Their talents and passions have taken them to the country’s most prestigious universities, across the globe, and in some cases, right back to the Scenic City.
So what’s putting them on the map? Read about it here.
SERVING THE UNDERSERVED
Deniqua Lewis | Brainerd High School, Class of 2015
Deniqua has always had a heart for service. The former “Miss BHS” attended Middle Tennessee State University, where she majored in social work. During her senior year, Deniqua had the opportunity to intern for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and was later employed there as a child protective services worker. She currently has plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work and is starting her own nonprofit organization – Beauty & Brains – a mentoring program for young women in the Chattanooga area.
JOINING THE FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY
Austin Cole | Baylor School, Class of 2011
Austin earned a bachelor’s degree in development studies and Latin American and Caribbean studies at Brown University and, as a Fulbright Scholar, conducted independent research on social and economic development in Medellín, Colombia. He currently serves as a senior associate in portfolio strategy and management at Blue Meridian Partners. Blue Meridian finds and funds scalable solutions to problems that limit economic mobility and trap America’s young people and families in poverty.
CARING FOR OTHERS
Savannah Clay | Silverdale Baptist Academy, Class of 2013
While at Silverdale, Savannah was a student athlete active in multiple student organizations. She attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, while working to serve both her school and community. Savannah earned her bachelor’s in nursing at UT and was given the highest possible honor a student can receive there. After three years as an ICU nurse at Erlanger Hospital while studying nursing practice, she will receive her doctorate degree this May. She currently sits on the boards of the University of Tennessee Young Alumni and the University of Tennessee College of Nursing.
ON THE FRONT LINES
Charlie Jeffries | Hixson High School, Class of 2014
Having earned her certification as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) while attending Hixson High in the Nursing Services pathway, Charlie continued her studies in medicine at ETSU, graduating in 2018. Charlie is now an ICU nurse who began battling COVID-19 by working in the COVID-19 ICU when the pandemic started. She has since decided to become a travel nurse full-time to help during the pandemic, with her most recent COVID-19 ICU assignments taking her to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Atlanta, Georgia.
LEAVING A LEGACY
Tahir Murray | McCallie School, Class of 2017
Tahir is the founder and CEO of Legacy History Pride, a collegiate lifestyle brand created specifically to embrace and encompass the individuality and richness of Black culture, the beauty of Black history, and creating awareness about HBCU communities (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). He was recently chosen by Nike as one of 12 HBCU game-changers to tell their story on the Nike app. Tahir is currently completing his senior year at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
PLAYING TO WIN
Bryce Nunnelly | Walker Valley High School, Class of 2017
As a student at Walker Valley, Bryce helped lead the football team to its first-ever playoff win, and he was an alldistrict and all-region basketball player as well as an all-state decathlete. He was awarded a football scholarship to attend the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he received many accolades both on and off the field as a wide receiver – all while earning his degree in mechanical engineering. Bryce begins graduate work at Western Michigan University this fall, and he has high hopes of being noticed by the NFL.
CARRYING THE TUNE
Brandon Quarles | Boyd Buchanan School, Class of 2011
A love for music has carried Brandon Quarles everywhere from Chattanooga to Los Angeles to Moscow. After receiving his bachelor’s in music from the University of Georgia, Brandon went on to obtain his master’s in music from Northwestern University and is currently a candidate for a Doctor of Musical Arts degree, also at Northwestern. Brandon is Associate Lecturer of Classical Saxophone at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and also serves as the executive director of Chicago-based saxophone quartet ~Nois. He has won top prizes from international competitions such as the Fischoff and M-Prize.
REACHING NEW HEIGHTS
Ashwyn Sam | Ooltewah High School, Class of 2015
Ashwyn is currently working toward his PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University, where he was awarded the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship – a first for a student from Chattanooga. He was part of a team that placed first in a national rocketry competition, and he advised a team that holds the world record for the highest altitude achieved by a complex I class rocket. Ashwyn hopes that his research can push the frontiers of space exploration and impact global discoveries in renewable energy.
KEEPING HER ALMA MATER COVID-SAFE
Kimberly Reid | Girls Preparatory School, Class of 2013
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Memphis, Kimberly obtained a master’s degree in public health with an emphasis on chronic disease prevention and control from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She recently put this knowledge to good use, developing and implementing standards to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as the COVID-19 coordinator at GPS. Prior to joining the team at GPS, Kimberly served as a health educator at local nonprofit A Step Ahead.
BUILDING BETTER COMMUNITIES
Elizabeth Glass | Grace Baptist Academy, Class of 2007
After obtaining her master’s degree at Georgia Tech, Elizabeth joined Chattanooga-based Rardin & Carroll Architects (RCA) in 2018 as an architect and interior designer. At RCA, she earned her architecture license and now enjoys working with community-centered clients, including her alma mater, Grace Baptist Academy – the campus of which was severely damaged during the 2020 tornadoes. In addition to this reconstruction project, Elizabeth serves the design profession through her roles on the AIA Atlanta Board of Directors and the Interior Design Advisory Board at UT Chattanooga.
UP TO THE TASK
Ash Perry | Chattanooga Christian School, Class of 2020
Known for his tireless pursuit of excellence in service and leadership, Ash’s entrepreneurial ambition to start a service-oriented company while still in high school came as no surprise. Frustrated with the insufficiency of consistent, flexible work available for high school and college students, Ash brainstormed and founded Howl Services, LLC, which caters to all services and odd jobs in the local Lookout Mountain community with the tagline “Any Task, Just Ask.” Ash continues excellence as an entrepreneur as he pursues a business degree at Samford University.
AWAITING AN NFL NOD
Patrick Johnson | Notre Dame High School, Class of 2017
A four-year letterman while attending Notre Dame, Patrick graduated in 2017 and went on to play football at Tulane University. While on the roster, the 6’3” defensive end was a second team All-American and Tulane’s all-time sack leader. In 2019, Patrick started in all 13 games despite persistent injuries throughout the year. Following his graduation from Tulane, Patrick decided to forgo his final year of eligibility and declared for the 2021 NFL Draft.
LIVE FROM THE STUDIO
Isaiah Buchanan | Heritage High School, Class of 2014
Isaiah first developed an interest in broadcasting at Heritage High School in Jeff Green’s broadcast journalism classes. After his 2014 graduation, he attended the University of West Georgia before transferring to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. There, he completed his bachelor’s degree in mass communications. Isaiah joined Chattanooga’s WDEF news team as an intern, which led to a part-time position in production. He is now a producer and anchor for News 12 This Morning.
LIFE IN THE LAB
Alexandria Oviatt | Red Bank High School, Class of 2012
Following her 2012 graduation from Red Bank High School, Alexandria had her sights set on the big city. She moved to New York to attend Barnard College, where she majored in biochemistry. Upon completion of her bachelor’s degree, Alexandria was accepted into Vanderbilt University’s Chemical and Physical Biology program. Her research has focused on cancer treatment and antibacterial resistance, and during her PhD candidacy, Alexandria published two journal articles on her work.
ON THE UP AND UP
Brandon Lewis | Central High School, Class of 2015
While earning his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Brandon helped design, build, and race the university’s Baja off-roading vehicle for a national competition. He also represented the college in an engineering design competition in Puerto Rico. Upon graduation, Brandon started his career at thyssenkrupp Elevator, now TK Elevator, where he collaborates regularly on projects from North America to Europe and Asia to design and improve elevator systems and components.
Mary Bohn | East Hamilton High School, Class of 2016
Mary graduated with highest honors in East Asian studies from Emory University in May of 2020. Last December, she was named a Thomas R. Pickering Fellow by the U.S. State Department. After a year of teaching English in Indonesia with the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Mary will receive a full scholarship to study international development at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. She will then begin a career as a U.S. diplomat.
BORN FOR BUSINESS
William Long | Lookout Valley Middle-High School, Class of 2013
William graduated from Miles College in 2017 with a bachelor’s in business administration. While attending college, William was an integral part of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and also served as an executive cabinet member of the Student Government Association. Following graduation, William landed a job with international customer and employee experience management company Medallia, where he currently works as a senior analyst.
GOING FOR THE GOAL
Erin Lycan Ridley | Soddy Daisy High School, Class of 2001
Soddy Daisy graduate Erin Ridley is making a name for herself as the only female academy coach in Major League Soccer. Holding a USSF A license, she currently serves as the head coach of the U13 boys at the San Jose Earthquakes Academy, and she also assists with the U14s and U20s. Erin has spent 15 years in the coaching profession, having worked as an NCAA Division I college coach prior to her move to MLS. Erin is a former University of Virginia co-captain and W-league goalkeeper.