Nokian Tyres has announced the winners of the 2022 Nokian Tyres Scholarship. Rhea County High School graduates Kaitlyn Neal and Austin Brackett will each receive a $2,500 scholarship to support their collegiate studies.
Neal will attend The University of Tennessee, where she plans to major in mechanical engineering with a minor in nuclear engineering. A lifelong Rhea County resident, she aspires to remain in East Tennessee after college to apply her passion for engineering and serve the community and the planet.
“Part of the reason I want to work in nuclear engineering is that I see the potential in this area, since we’re powered mostly by nuclear,” Neal said. “I’d love to move back and work on nuclear power. This is my home. I want to stay here, and it’s part of the reason I want to do what I want to do.”
Brackett will attend Carson-Newman University, where he will pursue a STEM business degree and play football for the Eagles. He is fascinated by chemistry and wants to blend his love of science with an education in business management, while balancing the challenges and opportunities that come with being a college athlete.
“My parents have always taught me you can do anything you put your mind to if you’re willing to work at it,” said Brackett. “I’m not the type to sit around – I’ve always liked doing something. One thing my parents have always taught me is that studies come first. I plan to take that to Carson-Newman.”
Brackett and Neal earned the Nokian Tyres Scholarship by demonstrating strong academic performance, interest in the STEM field, and passions that are aligned with Nokian Tyres’ core values of safety and sustainability.
“Protecting the earth is important to our sustainability as a species,” said Neal. “Nuclear fusion produces no waste. I’d like to research in that area. I think that is the most viable, clean power source out there.”
“I’d like to get my degree and come back to Rhea County,” Brackett said. “Big businesses really benefit Rhea County, and I want to work for a STEM-related business here because I really like this community.”
This is the third class of Nokian Tyres Scholarship winners. The company opened its North American production factory in Rhea County in 2019 and employs approximately 350 team members at the facility. The global tiremaker has set production records at the factory in each of the last several months as it grows its North American presence and furthers its mission of safety and sustainability.
“As we grow here in Rhea County, it’s vitally important for us to support the community that is helping us thrive,” said Dayton Factory Operations Director David Korda. “This scholarship is one way of doing that, and we’re proud to help Kaitlyn and Austin pursue their goals.”
The scholarship is one of several ways Nokian Tyres has striven to serve as a strong corporate citizen in Rhea County and Southeast Tennessee. It has partnered with other local educational institutions to provide work-based learning, sponsored events such as the Tennessee Strawberry Festival and Nokian Tyres Summer Nights, and donated to a multitude of non-profit organizations in the area.