Katelyn Laughon went from years of critical illness to a year of remedial classes at Roane State, and then to an academic triumph which she credits largely to community college.
She was accepted into the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at prestigious Yale University in New Haven, Conn.
She will study theoretical and computational chemistry with a full scholarship. She will also receive a stipend as a teaching assistant.
“Yale is the school of my dreams,” she said, “and I couldn’t have gotten into it without the foundation I received from Roane State,” she said in an e -mail to Roane State Associate Professor Phillip Hyun, his physics instructor at Roane State.
“I received a very valuable education and was well prepared to take engineering and science courses at a higher level.”
Laughon, 24, is a resident of Powell who was home schooled by her parents, Greg and Sheri Laughon.
She said she struggled with anorexia during her teenage years and at one point weighed just 90 pounds.
“I had a hard time letting myself eat,” she said of the disorder. Laughon said she was “seriously ill for two years”. She has been fully recovered for six years.
While in the grip of anorexia, Laughon said her ability to learn “took a serious hit. I struggled with the numbers. My brain chemistry was disrupted.
As she wraps up her recovery and plans to continue her education, she said she turned to Roane State and another community college in the area.
“I felt more comfortable at Roane State,” she said.
Laughon stayed there for three years, with the first year mainly devoted to remedial classes in math and chemistry.
She began to flourish academically, thanks to the educators at Roane State.
There was Adolf King, now retired, who helped her overcome being “extremely intimidated” by math and chemistry.
Professor Kathy Arcangeli “has been very patient with me,” said Laughon. “I had a hard time figuring out how to think about algebra, but by the time I finished his course I had acquired the tools I needed to tackle pre-calculus, and the rest of my lessons. of math came easily. “
Laughon especially thanked Hyun for her teaching in her calculus-based physics classes, saying it had helped her receive a “very valuable education.”
While Laughon’s academic prowess was primarily in math and science – she won the Anne P. Minter Chemistry Award – she also received the Beulah Davis Outstanding Freshman Writer Award.
Margaret W. Hilliard, now retired, submitted to the nominating committee a research paper written by Laughon which resulted in this honor. Laughon credits Hilliard with cultivating his love for literature through his teaching in several English courses. Survey of British Literature was one of Laughon’s favorite courses.
During her final year at Roane State, she received the Organic Chemistry Award, the Computational-Based Physics Award, the Second Year Mathematics Award, an Academic Excellence Award and was nominated for the President. She was also recognized as the first student in Roane State history to earn more than three times the honors credits required for an honors degree.
After graduating from Roane State, Laughon enrolled as a junior at the University of Tennessee and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering.
“My experience at Roane State made me want to reach as high as possible,” said Laughon.
Bob Fowler is a writer for Roane State Community College.