Spring City Student To Graduate From Chattanooga State And Rhea County High School Simultaneously

Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Rebecca Hilleary performs an experiment during her Organic Chemistry I class as Dr. Brian Hill, Chemistry professor looks on.
Rebecca Hilleary performs an experiment during her Organic Chemistry I class as Dr. Brian Hill, Chemistry professor looks on.

Rebecca Hilleary of Spring City will graduate from Chattanooga State in May with an associate degree in pre-health, before she graduates sixth in her class of 315 students at Rhea County High School (RCHS) two weeks later. That includes an unprecedented 85 college credits amassed, with three-quarters of her bachelor’s degree completed. “Rebecca’s track record of academic, volunteer and personal effort is proof that devotion, dedication, focus, determination and good study habits will truly develop remarkable results,” said Buddy Ballentine, RCHS graduation/scholarship coach.


Role models often provide an unscheduled impact…just ask Rebecca Hilleary. When her Aunt Kristy would visit, Rebecca asked, “What do you do at work?”  Her aunt’s simplified answer for the young child made all the difference: “I help make medicine to make people well.” So, at the young age of five, she decided she wanted to “grow up to be just like her aunt;” and Rebecca’s love of pharmacy was born. Rebecca’s aunt, Kristy H. Lucas, is a Doctor of Pharmacy and professor of pharmacy practice at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy in West Virginia who says, “I look forward to one day calling her colleague.”


Rebecca and her mother investigated required classes for high school, ChattState pre-health requirements and pre-pharmacy school requirements. They contacted Mr. Ballentine for guidance and a two-year plan was designed. “My mom and I noticed that the bulk of requirements for the college (Chattanooga State) were also classes I needed for high school and pre-pharmacy.” 


Thus began her Dual Enrollment career at age 15 and Rebecca had no problem pointing out advantages of the Early College/Dual Enrollment program. “Dual enrollment has given me an opportunity to expand my horizons and reach goals I never dreamed possible; it has jump-started my college experience and paved the road to success for over three-quarters of my bachelor’s degree.” Rebecca’s mom notes, “We were able to fully utilize public education and enhance Rebecca’s learning through early college. Self motivation, the desire to excel and a supportive administration have been essential to Rebecca’s success.”


Academics are not the only area in which she excels. “Rebecca works hard to make such a difference in the lives of those around her,” shares Emmaly Fisher, RCHS librarian. As an active peer tutor for students with disabilities, she works with the teachers to provide a nurturing environment.


Rebecca participates in extra-curricular activities including four years of varsity cheerleading, teaching as well as taking advanced ballet classes, 4-H, speaking at community events, working on the Gold Award for Girl Scouts, church and volunteering at the Women’s Care Center.


Perhaps one of the most important ways to “give back” that Ms. Hilleary has embraced is through her role as 2014 Distinguished Young Woman (DYW) of Rhea County. DYW is a national scholarship program that promotes and rewards scholarship, leadership and talent in young women through a platform called “Be Your Best Self.” Distinguished Young Women nationwide visit schools and speak to students about striving to be their best by eating the right foods, saying no to drugs, being honest and trustworthy, and making good grades. Rebecca has been to every school in Rhea County to spread this positive message.


Taking her studies seriously has meant making choices at times. When the DYW state competition fell during the second week of the five-week summer term it presented a very real problem. Missing a full week of a five-week class in chemistry II would be impossible and put her a year behind in her chemistry sequence. “Thankfully with online lectures, understanding professors who acknowledged the opportunity she had been given, a wonderful host mom (Judy Morton) at State DYW and a ton of pressure, she survived!” said her mother, Karen Hilleary. 

Rebecca Hilleary has been accepted with scholarship and will attend Campbell University in North Carolina Fall 2014. Rebecca’s early college credits would allow for her direct application to the School of Pharmacy Doctorial program. Although she could earn her doctorate by age 22, she chose to specialize and receive a Masters in Clinical Pharmaceutical Research first. Because Rebecca watched a beloved teacher undergo extensive treatments for leukemia, she fully realizes the value of “helping make people well.” Rebecca along with her parents Scott Hilleary and Karen Hilleary reside in Spring City. Her older brother Parker is a junior at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville majoring in business while younger brother Drew is a freshman at Rhea County High School.


UTC To Present Research On Big Data Analytics

A group of UTC students and faculty will attend the inaugural Teradata 2014 PARTNERS Conference and Expo in Nashville on Oct. 19-23. The research they will present on cigarette usage was compiled from social media data.   The theme of the conference is “Solving Business Issues with Big Data and Analytics.” UTC students Madhuri Siddulagari and Rupinder Kaur will join Dr. ... (click for more)

Dalton/Whitfield, Murray, Gilmer, Gordon, and Catoosa Counties Selected As An Early Education Empowerment Zone

Dalton/Whitfield, Murray, Gilmer, Gordon and Catoosa Counties were selected as one of Georgia’s four Early Education Empowerment Zones and will participate in a community commitment ceremony at 3 p.m. on Oct. 3 at Whitfield/Dalton Day Care Center, 515 South Pentz St. in Dalton.  The five counties will collaborate together in what will be known as the Northern Counties zone. ... (click for more)

Chancellor Rules That IDB Must Reimburse Attorney Fees, Other Legal Costs For Helen Burns Sharp On TIF Lawsuit

Chancellor Pam Fleenor has ruled that Helen Burns Sharp, who sued over the validity of a $9 million Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for a planned major development on Aetna Mountain, should be reimbursed her discretionary costs as well as her attorney fees. Ms. Sharp said in a recent court filing that her legal bills to attorney John Konvalinka were $74,427 at the time. The ... (click for more)

Jumoke Johnson Jr. To Plead Guilty On Selling Crack Cocaine

A youth who was in the news earlier as a teen who had been the first in his family to graduate from Brainerd High School and who found a patron willing to pay for his college education is set to plead guilty on Tuesday to a charge of selling crack cocaine. Jumoke Johnson Jr., who turned 21 on Saturday, dropped out of Miles College in Alabama after one semester and has been ... (click for more)

ChattaData Is A Real Advance For The City

This past Tuesday, the city of Chattanooga's new performance management tool called ChattaData was unveiled. As the chairman of the City Council’s Budget & Finance Committee, I am excited to witness the city putting this important information online in a way that is accessible and transparent to all taxpayers. This approach shines light on how we as a city prioritize our ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: It’s ‘Hate The SEC’ Day

The boo birds came out on the fly on the ESPN website Sunday afternoon, this moments after the latest AP College Football “Top 25” included eight teams from the Southeastern Conference.   What set naysayers aglow was Mississippi State, after upsetting LSU 34-29 Saturday night, debuted on the list at No. 14 while Clemson, playing Florida State in an overtime thriller, got tossed ... (click for more)