SEVIERVILLE — Sevier County Partners in Progress Education Foundation would not be able to provide the scholarships they do to Sevier County’s youth without the help of the community.

Sevier County came through again in a big way at this year’s Partners in Progress Mayor’s Luncheon, exceeding the fundraising goal significantly.

“We had a $125,000 goal for this. I’m happy to announce we raised $134,000,” said Executive Director Janice Bettis.

Those funds will help students attend the Sevier County campus of ETSU as well as high school students attending dual enrollment courses at Walters State Community College.

The Foundation, which was chartered when ETSU opened its Sevier County campus, has given out $821,936 in scholarships since that time, and it wouldn’t be possible without generous donations from community members.

Attendees got to hear from a number of students who have benefited from the program.

Megan Lewis is a recent ETSU graduate with a degree in psychology who is working with the Sevier County School System at Catlettsburg Elementary School as a special education assistant while working toward a masters degree in school counseling.

“This is my greatest accomplishment I love this job and I’m excited to work with children forever. I have such a passion for children and am excited to be a licensed school counselor in just a year and a half,” Lewis said.

Bettis has asked Lewis to speak at numerous functions since she saw Lewis singing Partners in Progress’ praises earlier this year.

Lewis, who graduated from Pigeon Forge High School in 2018 and is a first generation college student, said she couldn’t be more thankful to be able to graduate with a degree completely debt-free thanks to the organization.

“This Partners in Progress scholarship is such an amazing gift. It is an honor to speak to you today about what Partners in Progress means to me,” Lewis said.

Another student who shared her story is radiology student Lauren Weeks.

“The fact I can graduate with no student loans has just been amazing,” said Weeks, who attended Seymour High School.

Prior to attending ETSU she attended dual credit courses at Walters State Community College with Partners in Progress funds.

“Once at Walters State they helped direct me toward radiology,” Weeks said.

She did some job shadowing and realized her passion for the medical field and helping patients.

“Then I found out ETSU’s Sevierville campus offers this program and I could receive the Partners in Progress scholarship,” Weeks said.

It was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.

Now she is doing clinicals at LeConte Medical Center.

“When I graduate I hope to stay at LeConte Medical Center and stay in Sevier County,” Weeks said.

For more information about Partners in Progress call 865-428-2212 or visit www.seviercountypip.com.