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[courtesy Tesea Dawson]

GATLINBURG, Tenn. –  Every year the Ambassador Leadership Summits organizes four summits. Three of them emphasize leadership, one at UCLA, another at Harvard Law, and another at Yale. The fourth summit is at Johns Hopkins Medical for future health care professionals. This year a young community leader and future physician, Sarah Faith has been nominated by her algebra teacher, Ms. Watson, to be eligible to attend.

Sarah Faith is an honor student at Gatlinburg Pittman High School. She is also the daughter of Tesea Dawson, and granddaughter of Danny and Rebecca Mullikin, of the band Tuatha Dea.  Her two biggest focuses are her academic future, hopefully in medicine, and music. The nomination to such a prestigious program opens many opportunities for her.

The Ambassador Leadership Summits

The Ambassador Leadership Summits are a major educational opportunity–and the one at Johns Hopkins provides training for future healthcare leaders is unparalleled. Over 50,000 students from 140 countries have participated in the program. There is an entire section on the Summit website just for alumni reviews, the majority of which are brimming with enthusiasm and expressions of how the summit positively impacted their lives. Faith hopes to be an alumna.

Faith wants to become a doctor, specializing in neuroscience. Dawson said, “Sara has focused her high school career on the sciences.” Dawson said that Faith “started really buckling down in high school. She decided to take it upon herself to do honors classes. She always loved science. The more she did it, the more she discovered that this was something that she really loved.”

Students at the Johns Hopkins Summit will learn how to suture and how to perform CPR and more importantly can get previews of their future careers. They will study how to examine patients, how to research symptoms, and how to analyze those symptoms. They will examine case studies and discuss medical ethics.

Dawson said that 85 percent of Summit alumni are accepted by their first choice college. She stressed, “It’s really opening up a lot of doors for her. She’ll make lifetime connections and learning that she’s not going to get anywhere [else].” Dawson said that Faith would spend “nine days at the university basically getting a once-in-a-lifetime hands on experience, working with professionals.” Dawson explained, “An experience [like this] doesn’t come along all the time. It’s about furthering her education, and giving her a really good start.“

[Sarah Faith – courtesy Tesea Dawson]

The Challenge

But getting to the summit will be difficult.  Being selected is one thing, but that does not include tuition of $3,295 or travel expenses to get there. Faith works two part-time jobs—one at a nearby tourist attraction and another as a cashier at a grocer. Unfortunately, neither of those jobs will earn her enough to pay for the Ambassador Summit. So, she is responding the challenge with her own concert on December 29 at The Fox and Parrot in Gatlinburg and using some of her entrepreneurial drive to ask for help and explaining why this opportunity is important to her.

[Sarah Faith courtesy Tesea Dawson]

Dawson values the importance of education, but the cost of providing educational opportunities for her daughter is challenging. As a single mother of two and a musician, Dawson has found that path hard to walk. She said , “Sometimes it makes giving your children opportunities like this difficult. We have reached out to our fans and friends and family out there hopefully to make this happen.”

Dawson feels strongly that we have to support children. For Dawson, ensuring that her daughter has this opportunity matters. She said “If we don’t support [our children], if we don’t get behind them, and do everything we can to ensure that future for them, I feel that we have failed them.”

Her mother is working the challenge also. Sarah Faith’s family have set up a GoFundMe page. As of Dec. 10, it had raised $1,290 of its $4,000 goal. Not everyone can contribute a great deal. Dawson acknowledged, “As far as what anybody can do, any little bit helps. We appreciate everything that everyone has already done.”

Dawson expressed her fears, “I don’t want to see my daughter not move forward, simply because [of] our position at the moment. She’s got big dreams but she’s smart, talented, and she’s got the ability to do it.“

“There are many other kids like her [Sarah Faith]. Kids, like her, have these big ambitions, big dreams, and motivations that are going to ensure that future.” Dawson continued, “Just because, we may not have a whole lot of money this should not be what stops these young bright kids from looking forward.”

[courtesy Tesea Dawson]

Faith’s performance at the Fox and Parrot will likely have members of Tuatha Dea sitting in periodically to help bolster support. Her grandfather has encouraged her to hone her musical talents in the past, and has invited her to join Tuatha Dea on stage for a song or two at local shows. She began writing her own music a while back, and has even warmed the crowd up for the band. Faith’s determination to be able to attend John Hopkins University has her utilizing all the tools she has to earn enough money to make it happen. She and her family are hoping it will.