Christen Vann
Lynchburg, TN

Hi, I'm Christen Vann from Lynchburg and I'm one! I'm one of Tennessee's Best.

I never wanted to go anywhere BUT Middle Tennessee State University. I graduated as class valedictorian from Moore County High School and wanted to pursue a career in music education. I knew MTSU has one of the best music programs in the southeast. I had a really awesome music teacher in high school, and he and his wife both went to MTSU. They had received great educations and I knew I would too. I'm a flute player and I wanted to play with the best flute players in the state. At MTSU, I do.

I also study with some of the best students because I also have the Buchanan Fellowship. Offered to just 20 high-achieving incoming freshmen a year, the Buchanan Fellowship is both a special honors scholarship and education program. We are chosen based on several factors—our application essay, ACT scores (they have to be at least a 25), and high school GPAs (3.5 or higher). We receive a full-tuition waiver in addition to a thousand dollar book allowance for each of our four years here. The Fellowship, in conjunction with the University Honors College, offers an excellent undergraduate education and ultimately culminates in a thesis project our senior year. It is most certainly an unparalleled education. To maintain the scholarship, we have to retain a 3.25 GPA in addition to earning a certain amount of honors points each semester. We earn these points by volunteering to work or attending various activities, functions, or presentations hosted by the Honors College and have a blast doing it!

I actually almost didn't apply for the Buchanan, but my mom encouraged me to. I had only taken one Advanced Placement course in high school and no honors courses were offered, so I didn't think I qualified. The only advanced academics I had was my dual enrollment at Motlow State Community College. I was able to take some of the general education classes there like English and math. My math class was actually taught by the baseball coach. I took U.S. History with Scott Cook, an MTSU alumnus, and the most awesome teacher I have ever had—he almost made me want to major in political science. My dual enrollment was a great experience, but I still didn't think it was enough to qualify me for the Buchanan Fellowship.

Apparently it was because I received it. The phone rang and my mom said, "Christen, it's for you. I think it is some college again."; I picked up the phone and it was Dr. Scott Carnicom, the associate dean of the University Honors College, who told me I had received the prestigious Buchanan. He went into some details about the award, but my brain had already shut down. I had to have him repeat it all. I was so thrilled that I skipped my flute lesson that day and called my dad to tell him he was actually going to get money back from my college education.

Receiving the Buchanan has meant at great deal to my family. I was going to come to MTSU no matter what, but the award really relieved any financial pressure my college education had placed on them. My family has a boat trailer business, and I have always had more than everything I need, but not without a price. I learned very early on how to budget money and because of this, I know how much I—and all my hobbies—have cost over the years. My parents have always been more than willing to help me financially anytime it was justified. I am so grateful and blessed to have received this scholarship and to have achieved my ultimate goal—to give back to my parents what they have given to me.

I love being here at MTSU. This is really where I'm meant to be. MTSU is big enough to have the resources of a large school, but not too big so that you feel like a number. It is not so small that you feel as if you miss out on any part of the college experience. I did visit University of Tennessee-Knoxville, but all the orange and crazed football fans made me nauseated. Here I know people. My high school band director had invested a lot of time in me from the time I was in the seventh grade. Since he is a graduate and is successful, I know I will be, too. The music program is outstanding, the scholarship I received is incredible, and I am still just 45 minutes from the people I care about the most.

Come be one of Tennessee's Best. You'll be glad you did.