TVEC Students Named Valedictorian and Salutatorian at Local High Schools

TVEC Students Named Valedictorian and Salutatorian at Local High Schools

Andrea Byerly
Tuesday, February 21, 2023 12:00 AM
All, Students, Academics, Press Releases


Pictured front row left to right: Emilee Perry, Bradley Central Valedictorian; Cami Knott, Walker Valley Valedictorian. Pictured back row left to right: Garrett Williams, Bradley Central Salutatorian; Bailey Johnson, Cleveland High Graduate of Distinction; Braden Wingfield, Walker Valley Salutatorian.

CLEVELAND, TN - A record number of students will graduate from the Tennessee Valley Early College (TVEC) at Cleveland State Community College in May. These 36 students will earn associate degrees the week before receiving diplomas from their high schools. This TVEC class includes the valedictorians and salutatorians from Bradley Central High School and Walker Valley High School as well as a Graduate of Distinction from Cleveland High School.

With 150 students enrolled in the program, TVEC is a partnership between the college and local school systems designed to allow students to pursue college credit at the same time they are earning a high school diploma. This goal is achieved by engaging students in a rigorous high school curriculum earning college credit during their freshman and sophomore years and taking traditional college courses on Cleveland State’s campus during their junior and senior years.

Emilee Perry, Bradley Central High School Valedictorian, participated in student council, 4-H and theater while at Bradley Central. She said, “I saw TVEC as a good opportunity to get a head start on school and knock some years off of college. It’s a cool experience.” To be successful in TVEC, Perry says, “Most professors are incredible. They remind you of deadlines, but you have to have the responsibility to keep up with assignments and manage your time.”

Perry plans to transfer to Lee University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a secondary teaching license. Inspired by her past teachers, Emilee hopes to be a middle or high school math teacher. She is already observing classrooms in the introduction to teaching class this term.

Most TVEC students are university transfer majors and pursue the prerequisites for a four-year college degree. Garrett Williams, Bradley Central High School Salutatorian, is the first TVEC student to major in Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries. He joined the Wildlife Society at Cleveland State and will participate in the Southeastern Wildlife Conclave on campus in March. After turning 18 years old, Williams was able to start an internship with the City of Cleveland in the storm water department.

Williams will transfer to Lee University for a bachelor’s degree in ecology and environmental science and then plans to pursue a master’s degree. In one class this term, he is job shadowing professionals such as park rangers. Williams said, “I don’t want to spend most of my time behind a desk. I think a career with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), the forest service or the park service will give me that opportunity.”

Earning a perfect 4.0 the past four years, Bailey Johnson is a Graduate of Distinction at Cleveland High School. She participated in the marching band her freshman and sophomore years and remains involved in the National Honor Society at Cleveland High. Over the past two years at Cleveland State, Johnson has been inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and serves as the chapter president and regional vice president. An Honors College student, she also participates in the student senate and cheer squad on campus.

Johnson plans to transfer to a four-year university and major in computer science then pursue a master’s degree. She hopes to work in software development. When asked about TVEC, Johnson said, “Someone told me that it would hard, and I like challenging things. The flexibility has been great; I’m glad I did it.”

When Walker Valley Valedictorian, Cami Knott, received a letter in 8th grade inviting her to the TVEC program, she said, “It was awesome; I knew I had to do this. It has been nice to get a taste of college before I move away for a four-year degree.” Knott stays involved at Walker Valley with service clubs such as Mu Alpha Theta and National Honor Society. She also participates in the student senate, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the speech and debate team at Cleveland State. 

Knott will transfer to Belmont University or Washington and Lee University where she is a finalist for an academic scholarship. She plans to continue to law school and become an attorney.

When asked about the transition from high school to college, Knott said, “It takes being intentional to stay connected with my friends at Walker Valley, but one of the cool things about TVEC is making college friends too.”

Braden Wingfield, Walker Valley Salutatorian, serves as the vice president of the Collegiate Entrepreneur Organization (CEO), representative on the student senate and member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society at Cleveland State along with participating in Mu Alpha Theta and National Honor Society at Walker Valley.

Wingfield said, “I love the TVEC schedule. My junior year, I could go to classes in the morning and be done at lunch. Classes are only four days a week which is really nice.” This year, Braden chose to take the AP Calculus class at Walker Valley so he has a night class at the college to complete his schedule.

Wingfield started a 3D printing business and was the runner up in the Student Pitch Competition on campus last spring. He will transfer to the Tickle College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville this fall. With a major in computer engineering and a minor in business, Wingfield wants to be a product design engineer.

Cate Green, MEd, Cleveland State Dean of Enrollment Management, said, “TVEC is a highly selective program that requires a lot of dedication. These students have excelled. They have not only done well in their classes, but they have embedded themselves in the college through various clubs and activities. They exemplify what a successful student looks like. It is not necessarily making As in everything - that is a great goal, but being involved on campus and experiencing the whole student success piece. They have embodied all those things, and I will miss them greatly.”

This is the fourth TVEC class from Cleveland High School and the first class from Bradley Central High School and Walker Valley High School. The value of early college programs at improving student learning is supported by national research which has shown that students engaged in this model of instruction are significantly more likely to earn college degrees than other students while at the same time accruing less educational debt and having the opportunity to begin their careers early (thus having the opportunity for higher lifetime earnings).


Partners & Initiatives

  • Cleveland Bradley Business Incubator
  • America's SBDC Tennesseey
  • Your Skills. Your Future.
  • OneSource
  • Cleveland State Sustainability Initiative
  • TBR The College System of Tennessee
  • TN eCampus
  • Tennessee Transfer Pathway