Virginia Tech's Educational Talent Search will recognize 30 of the region's young scholars during the Talent Search Students of the Year banquet, to be held in Hillcrest Hall on the university’s campus on Thursday, May 24, at 6:15 p.m.

The students to be honored have been selected from the middle schools and high schools in southwest, central, and southern Virginia that are served by Virginia Tech’s Educational Talent Search program.

The guest speaker for the event will be Tom Wilson, director of Talent Search and Upward Bound at Virginia Tech since 1999. On June 1, Wilson will retire from a 30-year Virginia Tech career focused on helping middle- and high-school students attend college.

Educational Talent Search is a federally funded educational opportunity program designed to encourage potential first-generation college students to graduate from high school and attend college. Counselors from Virginia Tech work in middle schools and high schools to help students improve their grades, cultivate academic interests, and plan for a college education.

Talent Search of the Year honorees are chosen for academic performance, participation in program activities, visits to colleges, and commitment to the goals of the program. The awards will be presented by program counselors Joe Lyle, Henrietta Marshall, and Sarah Umbarger-Wells.

Talent Search and Upward Bound are administered jointly as part of Virginia Tech's Outreach and International Affairs. Thousands of students have benefited from services offered by the programs since Upward Bound was established at the university in 1967 and Talent Search in 1973. Participating students are much more likely to graduate from college than they would be without the help they receive from these programs.

These are the 2012 Talent Search Students of the Year and their schools. 

  • La’Kira Johnson, Linkhorne Middle School
  • Hailey Ferguson, Shawsville Middle School
  • Alan Bowen, Auburn Middle School
  • Melanie Chrisley, Christiansburg Middle School
  • Ben Kornhauser, Blacksburg Middle School
  • Angel Dean, Pulaski Middle School
  • Michael Jones, Dublin Middle School
  • Joseph Hamilton, Independence Secondary School
  • Timothy Seay, Bassett High School
  • Elizabeth Dale, Grayson High School
  • Nyisha Williamson, Martinsville High School
  • Imani Brunson, Magna Vista High School
  • Diamond Pollard, E.C. Glass High School
  • Carleigh Young, Franklin County High School
  • Brittany Bandy, Eastern Montgomery High School
  • Jason Pham, Christiansburg High School
  • C.J. Reed, Auburn High School
  • Cassandra Bryan, Blacksburg High School
  • Spencer Gravely, Floyd High School
  • Jason Owens, Patrick County High School
  • Chelsea Riddle, Pulaski County High School
  • Joyce Kuang, Galax High School
  • Brittany Gibson, George Wythe High School
  • Cassidy Ayers, Giles High School
  • Kimberly Vest, Graham High School
  • Tamra Mullins, Narrows High School
  • Kimberly Ruble, Tazewell High School
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