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October 10, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Winners announced for “ETSU Elevates Pitch Competition”

Sarah Mohammed, a clinical psychology major, took home the first prize and was also the recipient of the Audience Choice Award.

Nine East Tennessee State University (ETSU) student teams took the stage earlier this week to outline their ideas to tackle community challenges during the latest “ETSU Elevates Pitch Competition.” A panel of judges selected three prize winners, and the crowd voted for its favorite.

In total, the event resulted in $25,000 being invested in the region. The pitch competition also kicked off the university’s inaugural “Founders Week,” a celebration of ETSU’s history and mission to improve the lives of the people of the region.

  • Sarah Mohammed, a clinical psychology major, took home the first prize and was also the recipient of the Audience Choice Award. Her project, titled  “Black Mental Healthcare Access,” aims to mobilize Black communities’ self-advocacy for mental health. Mohammed partnered with the Northeast Tennessee Association of Black Social Workers.
  • Earning second prize was Abby Simpson, a rehabilitative health science major, who pitched “Looking Ahead,” a project to ensure that students have a clear path ahead when they graduate from high school. Simpson partnered with Hawkins County Schools.
  • Third prize was awarded to Leah Loveday, Rebecca Pearson, and Lillian Hollenbeck, whose project “PEER-iod Education,” was designed to facilitate comprehensive menstrual health education to adolescents and their parental figures. They partnered with RISE: Healthy for Life.

The judges for the competition were: (1) Bradley Eshbach, Owner/Operator of The Generalist and Managing Director, Creative Energy, Johnson City; (2) Melissa Roberts, Executive Director of the Appalachian Promise Alliance, Bristol; and (3) Aundrea Salyer, Chief Business Development Officer, Kingsport Office of Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship.


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