We need more trailblazers. We need more empowered leaders who set positive examples. We need more dedicated individuals who uplift and inspire their community. Really, what we need is more people like Uriah Richey, an NSCS Scholar and first-generation graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
As the first person in her family to attend college, Richey was determined to succeed, and she knew that she would have to rely on the community around her to find that success. She was the recipient of the Zaevion Dobson Memorial Scholarship, awarded annually by Fulton High School in honor of a sophomore who lost his life defending his friends from an act of gun violence. This scholarship helped Richey fund her education at UT, but it also gave her a sense of responsibility. As she navigated classes and the other demands of college, she did so in the memory of Dobson and in honor of her Fulton community as a whole.
Richey graduated with a double major in African Studies and Sociology, and her curriculum largely focused on critical race and ethnic studies. Although her classes were certainly demanding, she wasn’t afraid to push herself and take the lead in areas outside of academics, too. As squad leader of the Pride of Southland Color Guard, she learned to handle the nervous energy of the crowd as she led her squad onto the field at halftime. She set a strong example for them, knowing they were dependent on her leadership. Richey let the energy of Neyland Stadium exhilarate and terrify her all at the same time. What a powerful euphemism for life!
The strong sense of community that Richey learned to appreciate growing up in Fulton was something else she carried with her through her time at UT. As a resident assistant at Massey Hall, she was someone younger students knew they could turn to for guidance as they adapted to college life. Richey also joined the NAACP and the NCSC, and she became a mentor through Project GRAD Summer Institute, helping to offer guidance to other students preparing to enter college.
What’s interesting about Richey is that instead of replacing her hometown community with a new college community, she instead focused on expansion. She regularly went home to volunteer at Fulton High School, her alma mater, and she organized panel discussions for middle and high school students during which she offered guidance for other students across all demographics. Richey knows that she would not be where she is now if it were not for the help of her community, and she seeks to pass that wisdom and kindness on, just as it was passed on to her.
So what does the future hold for Uriah Richey? Although she has already achieved so much, in many ways, she is still at the beginning of her journey. She hopes to attend graduate school for Public Administration. Then, she plans on attending law school to become a civil rights attorney and ultimately serve as a representative for the state of Tennessee. Her career will focus on serving others and cultivating community.
As a member of NSCS, Uriah Richey has certainly made us proud, and we know she will continue to be a shining example of leadership as she pushes forward towards her goals. NCSC exists to honor high-achieving students and inspire them to live and lead with integrity, and Richey has done exactly that. We hope her story serves as inspiration for college students and pre-college students everywhere.