Supporter meets recipient of Project Grad laptop

Positively Tennessee

Our first WATE 6 On Your Side Project Grad Laptop Telethon kicked off last March, bright and early in the morning. Eric Ablequist, executive vice president at Oak Ridge Associated Universities, presented a check to help the cause and inspire others to give.

This year, ORAU is back, doubling its support. They came by the station to meet student Demyia Smith.

Last August, we presented laptops to Smith and 87 other Project Grad Scholars who had completed all of the requirements in the Project Grad Knoxville program, on their way to post-secondary education.

After graduating from Austin East High School, Smith is now attending Pellissippi State Community College, will finish her degree at a university, and has even bigger plans to follow.

“I want to study criminal justice,” Smith says, “and be a lawyer, a public defender.”

Supporting students like Smith is a good fit for ORAU, which is a big supporter of STEM education.

“It’s wonderful, inspiring. It basically allows us to see that it’s more than just providing laptops. We’re actually getting to see the young student who is using this laptop to be able to follow their career aspirations,” said Ablequist.

From each donation last year and again this time around, there’s an even bigger message to Project Grad students.

“It shows that they really do care about the community, ” Smith said. “That they want to see the better in the younger youth and they want to see us succeed and be great.

The first WATE Project Grad Laptop Telethon in March 2018 raised $41,867 and 88 laptops were distributed to GRAD Scholarship recipients who enrolled in higher education.

The 2019 telethon is March 28 from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on WATE 6 On Your Side. You can donate on the day of the telethon or in advance, right now at

Thank you for your support!

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