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.
FROM CHAMPION ATHLETE TO CHAMPION OF THE COMMUNITY
Precious Birdsong | Baylor School, Class of 2014
Precious Birdsong was a member of three state champion softball teams throughout her time at Baylor School. In college, she became the first player in Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) history to be drafted into a professional softball league and holds several records to this day. After earning a bachelor’s degree from MTSU in 2018 and a master’s degree in sports management in 2019, she is now the assistant director of the National Commodore Club at Vanderbilt University. Additionally, she founded the Precious Birdsong Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization serving the Chattanooga community. On top of all this, Birdsong will soon begin her quest to earn a doctoral degree in higher education at Vanderbilt.
ENHANCING THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION
Zyan Wynn | McCallie School, Class of 2019
During his time at McCallie School, Zyan Wynn was the president of Future Business Leaders of America and an active member of the student council, diversity council, honor council, and other organizations. Wynn is currently in his senior year at Princeton University, where he studies politics with minors in American studies, entrepreneurship, and education as a Gates Millennium Scholar. Upon graduation, he will begin his Master of Education program at Harvard University. While earning this degree, he will also begin his teaching career at Boston Collegiate Charter School. He is the founder of Wynning Education, a tutoring and education organization.
A GENERATIONAL GREEN THUMB
Cole Webster | Boyd Buchanan School, Class of 2009
During his time at Boyd Buchanan School, Cole Webster developed a strong work ethic and a dedicated attitude, which served him well as he learned the ins and outs of running his family’s beloved business, The Barn Nursery. After graduating from the University of West Georgia in 2013, Webster became an integral part of the team, creating innovative business strategies and putting in the work to keep the nursery thriving, all while remaining committed to the family values at the core of the business. Webster currently serves as president of The Barn Nursery and remains focused on serving the local community as the business continues to adapt and grow.
MAKING MUSIC FOR GOOD
Tyler Martelli | Hixson High School, Class of 2012
Since graduating from Hixson High School, Tyler Martelli has become a prominent name in the Chattanooga music scene. As a multi-instrumentalist, Martelli is masterfully proficient in guitar, mandolin, bass, harmonica, and even clarinet. His musical style is just as versatile, spanning from blues and jazz to bluegrass and rock. Martelli has collaborated with a number of local music mainstays such as Swayyvo, Rick Rushing, Slim Pickins, and several other groups that frequently get together to perform at community gatherings and fundraising events, including several “Birthday Bash” charity events organized by Martelli. In addition to his solo ventures, Martelli is a member of Chattanooga’s own Strung Like a Horse, and is slated to perform at Riverbend Festival this year.
Photo by Brian Holden
CONCENTRATING ON CANCER RESEARCH
Davis Brock | Signal Mountain Middle High School, Class of 2014
As an International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidate in high school, Davis Brock always showed a proclivity for and interest in biology and mathematics and has continued to pursue this interest throughout his academic career. After graduating from Signal Mountain High School, Brock earned a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and molecular biology from Wake Forest University and a Master of Science in tumor biology from Georgetown University. He currently attends The George Washington University’s Institute for Biomedical Sciences, where he is working toward a PhD in cancer biology, with research focused on cancer of the head and neck.
COMMITTED TO HER COMMUNITY
Mary Pike | Silverdale Baptist Academy, Class of 2015
Throughout her time at Silverdale Baptist Academy, Mary Pike grew in her faith and further developed a passion for making a difference in her community. After high school, Pike continued her education at Samford University, where she became heavily involved in the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Alabama before graduating in 2019. She then attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, obtaining a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in nonprofit management in 2021. Pike is currently the chief development specialist for RMHC of Greater Chattanooga and is involved in other organizations, including Young Professionals of Chattanooga, Rotaract, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
FOSTERING FOOD SAFETY
Kayla Bibbs | Grace Academy, Class of 2017
Attending Grace Academy from pre-K, Kayla Bibbs was an active participant in athletics, clubs, student government, and homecoming court, winning the Principal’s Award in her senior year. Afterward, Bibbs attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where she majored in food and agricultural business with a law and policy concentration and minored in international agriculture. Before graduation, she participated in intern programs, which included building an irrigation system in Guatemala and working on a farm. In the midst of the pandemic, Bibbs completed a virtual internship working with Cargill’s global edible oil solutions. Bibbs currently works at Cargill as a food safety, quality, and regulatory supervisor.
SERVING THE UNDERSERVED
Richmond Wrinkle | Oakwood Christian Academy, Class of 2015
After spending 12 years at Oakwood Christian Academy and another seven at the University of Georgia, Richmond Wrinkle is making his mark on the criminal justice system by continuing to focus on those with little to no access to legal services. While in law school, Wrinkle founded the Georgia Criminal Law Review, one of the few academic journals in the country to specifically address emerging trends in criminal law. He was awarded the Law School Excellence in Access to Justice Award by the State Bar of Georgia for his role in developing programs to extend legal services to the underserved. He is currently an assistant attorney general of Georgia.
A CATALYST FOR CHANGE
Demetrius G. Boatwright | Brainerd High School, Class of 2012
Since graduating from Brainerd High School, Demetrius Boatwright has left his mark on the Chattanooga community and beyond, winning awards for his work as an agent of change. Over the years, Boatwright has provided spiritual counsel for several artists in the R&B and Hip Hop industry. As a result, he was invited to the Grammy Awards in 2022, attending the show in Las Vegas as a guest of two artists he had previously worked with. Boatwright currently works for Steam Logistics as a logistics manager and has, with their help, been a corporate sponsor for Brainerd High School, helping to establish a Family Resource Center.
GIVING HER TALENTS TO THE NEXT GENERATION
Crystal Newson | Center for Creative Arts, Class of 2013
Crystal Newson developed a love for choreography during her years as a dance major at Center for Creative Arts. After graduating, she began working as a dance instructor and choreographer for several local companies including Project Motion, Choo Choo Kids, Chattanooga Ballet, Ballet Tennessee, Lee University, and D. Williams Dance Academy. After having her son, Josiah Atkinson, Newson developed a passion for youth outreach programs and began working with nonprofit organizations such as Dance Alive and Project Dance, teaching younger generations with the goal of instilling an appreciation for the art and history of multiple dance genres as well as dedication, motivation, and professionalism in her students.
MAKING CINEMATIC MAGIC
Ben Murphy | Cleveland High School, Class of 2011
After taking media classes at Cleveland High School, Ben Murphy decided to pursue a career in film and television. After graduating cum laude from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville with a dual degree in journalism/electronic media and cinema studies, Murphy landed a coveted internship with the American Cinema Editors (ACE) in Los Angeles. Connections from this led to his first studio assistant editor job on “The LEGO Batman Movie” for Warner Bros. He then spent six years working on James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which won the Oscar for best visual effects earlier this year. Murphy is currently serving as supervising first assistant editor for the third installment of the Avatar franchise, which is yet to be titled.
BIG DREAMS AND TINY HOMES
Travis Pyke | Collegedale Academy, Class of 2007
Travis Pyke had many experiences early in life which pushed him to found Wind River Tiny Homes, a company offering high-quality, attainable housing solutions. Helping build a family cabin in seventh grade and working with contractors and other skilled tradesmen throughout high school and college gave Pyke valuable experience and allowed him to further develop his interest in construction. Additionally, several mission trips gave Pyke a refreshed mindset with a focus on living simply, as he realized that less could truly be more. As a result, he started his company with the desire to craft intentionally-designed spaces and bring joy to those who call them home.
FURTHERING LOCAL FESTIVALS
Samantha Wright | Red Bank High School, Class of 2017
Samantha Wright graduated as the salutatorian of Red Bank High School’s 2017 class before continuing her education at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she majored in mass communications with a minor in anthropology. After graduating cum laude in 2021, Wright began her career as the director of sales for Friends of the Festival, a nonprofit event production and management company in Chattanooga. Here, she oversees the admissions, alcohol, and merchandise operations for both Riverbend Festival and the Riverfront Nights Concert Series.
MAKING MOVES IN MEDICINE
Thomas J. Stovall, MD, MPH | East Hamilton High School, Class of 2012
After graduating from East Hamilton High School, Dr. Thomas J. Stovall attended East Tennessee State University, where he graduated cum laude before moving on to Yale University to obtain his Master of Public Health degree. During his time at Yale, Dr. Stovall helped pass a bill expanding access to healthcare for immigrants. Dr. Stovall also graduated from Meharry Medical College, where he was appointed to serve as the only medical student on the Board of Governors for the Tennessee Chapter of the American College of Physicians. He is currently finishing an internal medicine residency at Stanford University and is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
A PHYSICIAN IN FLIGHT
Unsa Shafi, MD | Girls Preparatory School, Class of 2012
Dr. Unsa Shafi graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2016 with a double major in biology and sociology. Afterward, Dr. Shafi attended medical school at the University of Tennessee’s Health Science Center in Memphis, graduating in 2020. She is currently a chief resident for emergency medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and plans to complete an emergency medical services fellowship. Her goal is to become a flight physician in order to serve the community and respond to emergencies around the state of Mississippi. On top of all this,
Dr. Shafi is also a mother to 6-month-old twin girls.
ENGINEERING NEW OPPORTUNITIES
David Drinnon | Chattanooga Christian School, Class of 2015
David Drinnon’s interest in engineering began in high school when he had the opportunity to work as a research assistant in the chemistry department at Covenant College. After graduating from Chattanooga Christian School, he went on to attend Auburn University, where he was named the outstanding student in chemical engineering. Additionally, he received the Susan Stacy Entrenkin Yates Award, which recognizes the most exceptional students across all majors. Drinnon graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 2020 and currently works for ExxonMobil as a major growth ventures business planner.