NCCWSL Scholarships

Congratulations to our 2022 NCCWSL AAUW-TN Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to Nereida Djassi – Maryville College, Asia Torry – UT Martin, and Avery Vantrease – UT Knoxville who have received a Scholarship from AAUW-TN to attend the 2022 NCCWSL conference. (Scroll down the find more information about this year’s recipients.) The scholarships were funded by AAUW-TN, The Tennessee Women Project, and AAUW-Nashville Branch.

About NCCWSL Scholarships

AAUW of Tennessee is proud to offer opportunities for leadership development for university and college women in Tennessee through scholarships to attend the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders  (NCCWSL).  NCCWSL is a two-and-a-half day conference designed to enhance the leadership skills of college women students and to promote effectiveness in their work on campus and in the community. For more information about NCCWSL go to

Each year AAUW College/University Partners in Tennessee and AAUW Tennessee Branches have the opportunity to nominate undergraduate students currently attending a college/university in Tennessee for AAUW-TN scholarships to attend NCCWSL. Scholarships, which are funded by AAUW-TN and The Tennessee Women Project, cover conference registration (which incudes lodging and meals). AAUW Tennessee branches and AAUW College/University Partners who nominate students are expected to contribute to their travel expenses if they receive AAUW-TN scholarships.  AAUW-TN has awarded college women the NCCWSL Scholarship since 2005.

More about our 2022 Scholarship Winners

Nereida Miranda Djassi, (nominated by AAUW-Maryville Branch) a Sophomore majoring in International Studies with a Minor in Political Science at Maryville College, is president of the Global Citizenship Organization, International Senator on the Student Government Association (SGA) and volunteers at Maryville College and in her community.

In her own words: One of the most important or valuable lessons I have learned [from] extracurricular activities and being in leadership positions can be described in four words: passion, persistence, focus, and compassion. Helping others in your team achieve the unexpected and seeing the smile of the final result makes me happy.  Attending NCCWSL will help me improve the skills that I need to improve.

Asia Torry, (nominated by AAUW-Martin Branch) a senior Dietetics student from The University of Tennessee at Martin is President of UTM Spanish Club, Secretary of Phi Upsilon Omicron honor society.

In her own words: While being president of the UTM Spanish club, I have been able to interact with other foreign language clubs on campus. This has allowed me to meet people from various backgrounds, some of which are from different countries. This experience has exposed me to different cultures that I was not previously exposed to growing up, which also made me realize how people that may seem very different from me are more similar than I may think. I have always been the type of person to be a team player hiding in the background; but I am hoping that by attending NCCWSL, I can learn how to be a more efficient, bold, and dependable leader.

Avery Vantrease, (nominated by UTK college/university partner) a senior Supply Chain Management, Business Analytics, Sustainability Major at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is Chair of Sustainability Committee in Undergraduate Student Senate for SGA, Executive Secretary on Student Government Association Cabinet, and Founder and President of LGBTQ+ Association of Business Scholars.

In her own words: It [Student leadership] has been an incredibly humbling learning experience. The personal connections I have made along the way with other student leaders have been infinitely rewarding and have made me who I am today. Women in leadership are critical to breaking this mold of what a leader should be – you can lead organizations with integrity, transparency, and human connection as key values, and you don’t have to compromise an ounce of femininity to do so. Student organizations are as much about impacting and lifting up your members and community as much as they are about accomplishing your shared mission and values.



Miriam Boutte’, a Dietetics student at the University of Tennessee, Martin, is Student Tennessee Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics President-Elect, Student Liaison, and a volunteer for Meals on Wheels. She was nominated by the AAUW-Martin Branch.

In her own words: Before attending the 2021 NCCWSL Conference, I felt confident about my academic and career choices. After attending the NCCWSL Conference, I felt inspired, encouraged, empowered and equipped to not only do what is needed to achieve my academic and career goals, but to also inspire others to pursue their dreams and strive towards all that they have been purposed to achieve.

Jessie Li, a Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering student at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is a Tickle College of Engineering Student Ambassador, Community Outreach Director for Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, and Co-Director of Diversity Affairs Committee for the Student Government Association. She was nominated by the AAUW-Knoxville Branch.

In her own words: Attending NCCWSL 2021 was an absolutely amazing experience. Though it was virtual, I had a great time meeting new people and networking with other strong women leaders from all walks of life. I really enjoyed hearing from the speakers and learned a lot about leadership, social justice, and how to use my strengths as a female student leader.

Gianna Noel, a Senior Architecture student at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville is past president of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students, student planner for Black Cultural Programming Committee and graphic designer for Women of Knowledge and Excellence. Gianna was nominated by the AAUW-Knoxville Branch.

In her own words: I feel that NCCSWL will make me a more well-versed leader and further my opportunity of not only networking but also fostering a space for uplifting and learning from other women. I feel that it is imperative that we give space to teach while learning from one and other and I feel this experience will give the opportunity to further my growth as a collegiate woman.

Stephanie Sellers, a graduate student studying History at the University of Memphis is president of Phi Alpha Theta, advisor to the Non-Traditional Student Association at UT Martin, and a PEP (Peer Enabling Program) Leader. She was nominated by the AAUW-Martin Branch.

In her own words:  After a year of COVID lockdown and watching racial violence explode on the national scene yet again, I knew I would enjoy networking with other women and that I wanted to increase my activism. I expected to enjoy this conference, but I did not expect to be completely blown away by some of these presenters and come away really empowered and feeling validated (which is exactly what happened).

Sarah Mingo
, majoring in Elementary Education at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is Clearance Brown Theater Lead House Manager, Communications Chair of  Black Educators of Tomorrow, a member of Black History Planning Committee, and volunteers at Idyllwilde Elementary School. Sarah was nominated by UTK, College/University Partners.

In her own words:  I expect to benefit from attending NCCWSL in many ways, the first being learning how to advocate for myself and gain inspiration to continue on and break down barriers for women of color in leadership. I feel in my times of uncertainty to know other women have led a path and are cheering me on to go further, gives me so much strength in hard times.


Sreya Kumpatla, majoring in Aerospace Engineering at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is an Engineering Ambassador for Tickle College of Engineering, Treasurer and Head of Finance Committee of TEDxUTK, Elementary School Outreach Chair and Outreach Chair for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Sreya was nominated by UTK, College/University Partners.

In her own words: Some helpful advice I learned [during NCCWSL] was to actively seek mentorship (and later be willing and eager to pay it forward), use perspective when looking at a problem and making decisions, and be keen to promote yourself when you need to and be proud of your accomplishments. While I attended several other sessions, many of them held the consistent theme of reminding us, the attendees, of the unique positions in our schools and how our shared experiences as hardworking, accomplished women can be channeled towards creating positive changes as leaders in our colleges. I will use everything that NCCWSL taught me to be a great leader, committed to bettering my community.

Lily Winebarger, a Psychology major at Maryville College. During her freshman year, Lily formed a Best Buddies Chapter at Maryville College. She is an International Student Mentor, a Maryville College Ambassador, and Academic Mentor. She has served as president of the Street Outreach Club and as a camp counselor during the past 7 summers. Lily was nominated by the AAUW Maryville Branch.

In her own words:  The National Conference for College Women Student Leaders exceeded my expectations. Right from the start while we were all joining the welcoming ceremony, I felt a sense of connection, even though we weren’t all physically together. Before connecting with the AAUW, I did not truly consider myself a powerful leader. Now that I know how much potential I have to create change in the world, I will make a greater impact. I learned the skills I need in order to be a better advocate and a better leader in my community.


Grace Kidd
is completing an Associates Degree at Pellissippi State and plans to attend UT. Grace was nominated by AAUW-Maryville Branch.
In Her Own Words:
The conference was wonderful and I am grateful I was able to attend. To be able to see so many powerful, strong women within various leadership roles was amazing. Between each of these amazing sessions, I also enjoyed the panels and workshops I attended. I was able to learn a lot from women and men who were experts in the fields.


Alexa Maqueo-Toledo is a student at Maryville College, majoring in Sociology with Minors in Spanish & Writing Communications. Alexa was nominated by the AAUW-Maryville Branch.

In Her Own Words:
At Maryville College I am part of the Latino Student Alliance, Dreamer Support Team, and started a chapter of the national organization called Define American on campus. Through these organizations, I have gained many skills such as communication, time-management, event planning, and problem-solving. I believe I will greatly benefit from attending the NCCWSL conference and learn more ways to grow as a student, leader, and woman. Hearing the stories of successful women and how they battled their obstacles will help me find ways to do the same. I will take what I learn at this conference and share it with my community so others can as well.


Brianna Guydon, a student at Middle Tennessee State University, majors in Theatre Education. Brianna was nominated by MTSU and AAUW-Murfreesboro Branch.

In Her Own Words:
When I was younger, I would go to my father about all of the things that were wrong in the world. He taught me to take any situation I was in and envision how I could make a difference. Through my opportunities to lead on my campus and be involved in my community, I have learned the importance of supporting other women. I am eager to say I have even more to learn as a collegiate woman. NCCWSL will be an amazing opportunity for me to connect with other leaders on other campuses, learn more about steps I could be taking to enhance my campus and community, and how best to represent women as a whole. Thank you very much to all who made this opportunity available!


Kirksey Croft (IN HER OWN WORDS):

I hope that by attending NCCWSL, I can learn strategies for bettering my own leadership and extracurricular experiences in a way that can reach other people in my community. I strive to learn how to invest my own leadership qualities in a way that inspires and engages the young women in my community to look beyond the barriers that they face and see their full potential as leader in the workforce, governmental institutions, organizations and more.


Megan Henley (IN HER OWN WORDS):

I hope that by attending NCCWSL I can share my experience as a female student leader on campus and learn from other women that have faced obstacles in their time as student leaders. As women in positions of leadership, we have a unique perspective of our campuses reflective of the roles that women must occupy in our society. I look forward to learning about how to effectively lead fellow students and growing together and bringing that back to leadership positions I will occupy on campus in the future.



Amanda Steele (IN HER OWN WORDS):

Through NCCWSL, I feel I will acquire new skills and an even greater self-confidence. I want nothing more than to continue to experience things that will encourage my pursuit of knowledge and growth. I know that NCCWSL would provide me with some pieces I am still missing. I believe this experience would push me out of my comfort zone facilitating the skill of embracing change. It will provide the opportunity to surround myself with like-minded women and to network with empowering and inspiring women who also want to change the world by eliminating labels, leveling the playing field, and making it a better place.


Maddie Stephens is a Senior English Literature major at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville and was nominated by UT Knoxville College/University Partner representative.

In her own words:  When I arrived at the NCCWSL, all my anxiety about attending a national conference morphed into awe. There were over 500 diverse participants, young female student leaders like myself with incredible stories of perseverance and triumphs, that reminded me of why I chose to run for Student Services Director for SGA at UTK in the first place and why my voice deserves and needs to be heard.

I was also able to listen to powerful female leaders already changing the world nationally and locally as we know it including Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, and Murfreesboro’s Vice Mayor Madelyn Scales Harris who is influencing our own Tennessee community. They had extensive wisdom to provide and reaffirmed the importance of remaining politically active and my drive to serve in public office in the future. I’m so thankful to have had this wonderful experience and I hope to continue to grow into the leader NCCWSL and AAUW are educating and inspiring women to be!

Ashley Mendez, Senior Dietetics student, The University of Tennessee at Martin, was nominated by AAUW Martin Branch.

In her own words:  Attending NCCWSL provided me with an incredible opportunity to be surrounded by not only a group of diverse strong women, but also a group of women working towards a common cause who empower each other through positivity.  I learned so much from empowered women of all ages who have become strong fearless leaders in their communities and across the country.  These included Tarana Burke who stated “I am a survivor that came up with a solution.” The breakout sessions were tailored for our own individual needs and were phenomenal!!  The networking that took place helped me to make life-long friends from across the country and I learned I am not alone in the challenges I face.  I am now armed with what I need to move forward to promote women equality!!  I would love to attend NCCWSL again as it was so inspiring and uplifting!!!


Gaye Coleman (left), 2017 AAUW-TN NCCWSL Scholarship recipient, at a tabling event at UT Martin, spreading the word about AAUW











Gaye Coleman from UT Martin said this about her NCCWSL experience: “I was so impressed, not only by the quality of speakers, but also by the participants as they shared their own stories in small breakout sessions and over meals.  Timely topics included leadership development, professional development, activism, women’s issues, identity and diversity issues, plus group think sessions.” Gaye’s big take-away was: “Find your voice and never stop telling your story.”

For Bonnie Carroll of MTSU, “one message resonated…strong women need other strong women.” She stated: “I have never felt more important or valid anywhere than I did at NCCWSL. Surrounded by confident and successful women, I was constantly reassured that my feelings, aspirations and thoughts were all very significant. I left each workshop and lecture with something intangible that I knew would help me to become a stronger and more competent leader.”

Amela Gjishti from TN Tech University shared that “All the speakers…highlight[ed] how important it is to be yourself and how not to be afraid to speak up for what you think is right or wrong.” She went on to say: “What actually impressed me the most was the fact that even though all of the girls that I met came from different cultural and education backgrounds, we would perfectly relate to each other when it came to how we approach different things in life.”


Molly Blankenship (left) and Ufuoma Peace Otebele (right) receive congratulations from AAUW-TN 2015-16 President Ayne Cantrell











Molly Blankenship, MTSU alumnus majored in Liberal Studies with concentrations in Political Science and Social Work/Advocacy. Ms. Blankenship is Founder and Director of two nonprofit community organizations: (1) Reclaim Ourselves, an organization dedicated to utilizing the arts as a mechanism for advancing social change and (2) The Lavinia Project, a community literacy project for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. She plans to use the information from NCCWSL “to be empowered to expand and advance my leadership skills so as to be more effective as an agent of change on behalf of underprivileged and marginalized populations in the society in which we live.”

Haley Wilson (recent UT Chattanooga graduate) majored in Political Science with a focus on American Studies with a minor in Women’s Studies. Ms. Wilson held a number of campus leadership positions, including Sisterhood Chair; ELECT HER Planning Committee; Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature: Lobbying CEO 2015, Lobbying Director 2016; Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature UTC Delegation: Secretary 2015, Vice President 2016.

Ufuoma Peace Otebele (UT Martin alumnus) majored in Biology with a minor in English. Ms. Otebele was UT Martin’s Women Student Association President. She says, “Attending NCCWSL meant the world to me and will indirectly profit many women around the world.”

2015 NCCWSL Scholarship Recipients

Jamie Farr (L) and Megan Terry (Center) with NCCWSL friend Aisha Saidy (R)

Jamie Farr (L) and Megan Terry (Center) with NCCWSL friend Aisha Saidy (R)

One of the 2015 Recipients was: Megan Merrick

Megan Merrick web
Megan Merrick, a recent graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, attended the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, May 28-30, 2015, at the University of Maryland, College Park. She was one of more than 1,000 young women from across the country and around the world who attended the conference. Attendees participated in 50 workshops and networked with representatives from more than 80 graduate schools and employers. Merrick was president of the MT Anthropology Society and had a double minor in archaeology and history.

Past recipients are:

2015 Recipient
Megan Merrick, MTSU
Sarah Dianne Jones, Maryville College
Jamie Farris, UT Martin

2014 Recipient
Sophia Naomi Plant, MTSU

2013 Recipient
Kellum K. Everett, MTSU

2012 Recipient
Jullian Harris, University of Kentucky

2011 Recipients
Lisa Walker, MTSU

2010 Recipients
Mandi Leigh Smith, Maryville College
Jennifer M. Swegles, UT Martin
Kamryn Warren, MTSU

2009 Recipients
Carlissia N. Graham, Univ of Memphis
Leslea Robertson, UT Martin

2008 Recipients
Monique Denney, MTSU
Ashlyn Gurley, Maryville College
Katie Beth Price, UT Martin

2007 Recipients
Claire M. Beck, Belmont Univ
Page Goad, TN Tech
Nora M. Cook, Belmount Univ

2005 Recipients
Heidi von der Lage, recommended by Oak Ridge Branch
Candace Marshall Hannan, recommended by Oak Ridge Branch