Six Middle Tennessee students received $10,000 each from Mars Petcare during the company’s Juneteenth Community and Connections Mixer at its Franklin office on Wednesday.

The third annual event served to “recognize and appreciate our future leaders” and help them get started with their college education, according to Allana McDonald, Mars’ North American regional president.

“The world we want tomorrow begins with the work we do today,” she said. “And the world we want tomorrow is inclusive.”

The winning students were: 

  • Emilia Reinbold from Brentwood High School, who will attend The University of Tennessee at Knoxville
  • Emory Nixon-Wesby from Nolensville High School, who will attend Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
  • Mikayla Prude from Martin Luther King Jr Magnet High School, who will attend Spelman College in Atlanta.
  • Saraah Zaheer from Page High School, who will attend The University of Alabama
  • Taylor Arnold from Battle Ground Academy, who will attend Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama
  • Timothy Shelton from Summit High School, who will attend The University of Tennessee at Knoxville

Travis Lester, Mars’ director of Equity, Inclusion and Diversity, said the company increased the number of scholarships from five to six this year and expanded eligibility to Davidson County and Metro Nashville students due to the number of qualified applicants.

“It was a very tough choice to select just five,” he said.

In addition to the scholarships, each student was also paired with a Mars employee who will serve as a mentor to them during their first two years of college. They will also be eligible for an internship at Mars during their junior year.

Local officials including Franklin Mayor Ken Moore, Williamson County Schools Superintendent Jason Golden and Aldermen Brandy Blanton and Greg Caesar were among the approximately 120 people who attended the mixer.

“Our calling card is our youth involvement,” Moore said. “It’s so important to our community to boost these scholarships, particularly for those who need it more than others.”

Golden quoted Martin Luther King Jr. by saying the goal of education is “intelligence plus character.”

“Every opportunity we give students to grow, we’re going to make the community that much better,” Golden said.

To have qualified, candidates had to have at least a 3.2 grade point average, write an essay and make a video about a challenge they had faced in their lives.

After the presentation, Nixon-Wesby said he felt “very good” about winning the scholarship and is excited to start college.

“I’m looking forward to meeting new people and being in a different area,” he said.