Top honors for SCC students

out winnerNo junior women’s freestyle kayaker in the world was better than Stecoah resident Rowan Stuart recently at the ICF Canoe World Championships — a freestyle boating competition.


The 17-year-old, who attends Jackson County Early College through Southwestern Community College, won her division at the event held in the Nantahala Gorge. For Stuart, the international competition provided the thrill of a lifetime.

“The week of World Championships was the most challenging, exciting, and rewarding week of my life to this point,” said Stuart, who is on track to graduate with her two-year associate’s degree before she turns 18. “During our preliminary round, I ended up in second place, after having a less-than-amazing second ride. I feel like that second place inspired me to do better during finals, and I was happy to meet that goal. Now that it’s over with, I’m just proud to represent myself, my sponsors.”

But she wasn’t the only SCC representative to shine at the international competition. There were also 30 outdoor leadership students who served 80 volunteer shifts during the seven-day competition.

One student, Swain High School graduate Jacob Smith, so impressed event organizers and judges that he was asked to work extra shifts as a timer in the judging booth. 

 “The Australian judge invited him to go to Spain for another event,” said Paul Wolf, coordinator of SCC’s outdoor leadership, wilderness emergency medicine and wilderness therapy programs. “For him in particular, but also for all of our students, this was a chance to seize on the special moments in life.”

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