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Seven incoming Eastern Kentucky University freshmen are among 24 high school seniors throughout the region who earned “I Am UNITE” scholarships for championing anti-drug efforts.

The EKU recipients are:

  • Addison Atkin, from Rockcastle County High School, an active leader in UNITE clubs since elementary school who traveled with the UNITE Presents theatre troupe throughout middle school.
  • Latasha Cornett, from North Laurel High School, a UNITE Club member for seven years and participant in various drives and awareness campaigns.
  • Miranda Dugger, from Corbin High School, a UNITE Club member for three years who has served as a Camp UNITE counselor.
  • Steven Prater, from Phelps High School, an active UNITE Club member for seven years who has attended or served as a counselor for Camp UNITE for five years.
  • Abigail Smallwood, from Shelby Valley High School, an active UNITE Club member for seven years who has also attended or served as a CAMP Unite counselor for five years.
  • Skylar Stacy, from Wolfe County High School, who has visited local elementary schools to discuss the importance of staying drug- and alcohol-free.
  • Autumn Ward, from Corbin High School, an active UNITE Club member for two years and a volunteer counselor for Camp UNITE last year.

All will attend EKU’s main campus in Richmond, except for Ward, who plans to attend EKU Corbin. Seven others are attending area community and technical colleges so may eventually transfer to Eastern.

“UNITE has helped me improve my life and the lives of my community in many ways,” said Stacy. “It has made me realize that I am a role model to the younger generations in my community. Good role models are an essential part of growing up. That is what UNITE has taught me. UNITE made me want to be a better person and grow.”

For Ward, UNITE “means coming together to try to prevent drug abuse. It means being there for one another because we all understand what it’s like. It means being a friend, a good listener, and a caretaker. It means staying up all night holding someone when they cry. It means loving someone that you hardly know. It means, most importantly, that we can all come together and change our community.”

UNITE showed Dugger “I should never feel ashamed. My purpose in life is to change people’s lives by sharing my story.”

Each scholarship is worth $1,500 toward post-secondary expenses. Funding comes from proceeds of the National Rx Drug Abuse Summit, the largest annual collaboration of professionals in the nation focused on the prescription drug epidemic. Operation UNITE has hosted the Summit the past four years.

Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, joined Fifth District Congressman Hal Rogers in recognizing the youth at a dinner celebration on May 5 at the London Community Center.

In addition to the scholarship, students received a framed certificate along with a trophy naming them “UNITE Ambassadors.”

To qualify for a scholarship, a student must:

  • live within the 32 counties served by Operation UNITE.
  •  be a member of their school-based UNITE Club or have served as a team leader during Camp UNITE – a leadership adventure camp that serves middle school students throughout the Fifth Congressional District.
  • have an average cumulative GPA of at least 2.75.
  • participate in a minimum of 25 hours volunteer community service.
  • submit an essay explaining how they exemplify the “I Am UNITE” theme.

For more information about Operation UNITE visit