Campus News: Two Students Receive Ledford Grant 2020

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Two Students Receive Ledford Grant 2020
Jamuna Gautam - 3/27/2020

Two Lee Students Receive Ledford Grant 2020


Lee University anthropology majors Lincoln Beavers and Desiree LaPeer were recently selected by the Appalachian College Association (ACA) as Colonel B. Ledford Scholars.

The Colonel B. Ledford Scholarship offers financial assistance to eligible students who are conducting summer research at ACA member institutions.


Beavers' project, titled "When coal mines disappear: Pursuing Revitalization in Southwest Virginia," explores what revitalization processes are suitable in the communities with economic disparity caused by the transition from coal mining to the search for other renewable resources.


"It is an honor to have been given such a prestigious opportunity," said Beavers. "It is my great desire to bring back hope and a sense of fulfillment to those affected and find a solution that increases economic security to these communities."


"Lincoln's passion for research was evident early on," said Dr. Arlie Tagayuna, associate professor of sociology and Beavers' social research professor. "She wanted her research to be participatory, inclusive, and culturally appropriate so that the involved constituents could provide her the best information, and in turn, be able to use the research as a resource for their project of revitalization. Lincoln is so poised to do such an endeavor, and I am proud of her."


LaPeer's project, "Factors Influencing College Retention Rates for First-Generation College Students in Fentress County, TN," examines five specific factors that influence college retention rates for first-generation college students in that county.


"This grant means a lot to me," said LaPeer. "It is an incredible feeling knowing that an organization wants to provide funding for my research idea. It felt like a confirmation that I am doing what I need to do in terms of my future vocation."


"Desiree demonstrates steadfast excellence," said Dr. Ruth Wienk, assistant professor of sociology and LaPeer's research mentor. "She is always willing to learn, adapt, and refine her ideas to better meet the requirements of the academic search for knowledge. Her work isn't just admirable for an undergraduate - it's just admirable."

According to Lee Professor of Anthropology Dr. Murl Dirksen, Beavers and LaPeer continue the tradition of "great anthropology majors at Lee." This grant has been awarded to three other anthropology majors in the past: Abigail Christopher, who engaged in investigating religious reactions to the Ebola crisis in Liberia; Jed Foster, who spent a summer in China collecting interviews on the end of China's one-child policy; and Kelly Wnuk, who examined recent controversies surrounding Confederate monuments.  Additionally, Lee alumna Erin Williamson is the first Lee graduate to be awarded a Bill Gates Scholarship and is currently pursuing her PhD in cultural anthropology at Cambridge University researching 'hope' among refugees in Greece. 


"It is impossible for me not to feel proud and brag about the anthropology students we have at Lee," said Dirksen.

For more information about the ACA or the Ledford Scholarship, visit

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