Two incoming University of the Cumberlands students have been awarded the Lewis Appalachian Scholarship in recognition of their academic promise and genuine desire to give back to their community.

This year's recipients are Davin Asher (Essie, KY) and Kayla Smith (Arjay, KY). The Lewis Appalachian Scholarship is a $1000 non-renewable scholarship that was established by Cumberlands alumnus Derek Lewis and his wife in 2012.

“The purpose of this scholarship is to identify students from Eastern Kentucky who have a strong passion for helping others and see areas in which their communities could be improved,” Lewis stated. “Over the years, I have been very impressed with the caliber of applicants. These are young people with bright futures ahead of them. My challenge to them is to pay it forward, in their own way, and create the change they would like to see in their communities.”

Davin Asher says his goal at Cumberlands is to become involved in the ministry programs while he prepares academically for the graduate Physician’s Assistant program. The scholarship will help him achieve that goal.

“It didn't take me long to figure out what career I wanted to pursue. I found myself having a love for other people, and I was fascinated with the healthcare field,” Asher said. “My desire is to work in a setting where I can be a spiritual extension of healthcare. I believe that faith is a very important part of healthcare, that trusting God is important for the healing of our bodies."

Kayla Smith said she wants to remain close to her Bell County home after graduation so she can do all that is possible to positively impact her community.

"Watching the struggles of others has encouraged me to be my own person and not give in to the pressures of the world. I plan to serve as a role model to those younger than me and to shine a light to those struggling under the burdens this community places on their shoulders,” Smith said. “I desire to be the difference maker for as many people as possible. If I could help thousands of people better their lives, it would feel exactly the same to me if I could help only one."

Lewis graduated from Cumberlands in 2009 with bachelor’s degrees in accounting and communication arts. He then went on to earn his master’s degree from Western Kentucky University. Since that time, he has been heavily involved in his community.

Lewis currently runs a variety of businesses in Eastern Kentucky, including a family-owned pharmacy, a commercial property company, a residential property company, a handyman service, and a seasonal sales company. He also presides over the Hyden-Leslie County Chamber of Commerce, serves on the Housing Developmental Alliance board, sits on both the local and regional boards of Appalachian Regional Hospital (ARH), has assisted Trails of Leslie County by building hiking/mountain bike trails and mapping out kayak/canoe trips along the Middle fork of the Kentucky River, and is a member of the Leslie County Community Foundation, an affiliate of Foundation for Appalachia Kentucky. Lewis is currently running for State Representative for the 90th District.

“I do my best to help others on a daily basis, and I’m proud of the good work we do every day,” said Lewis. “My hope for the recipients of this scholarship is that their commitment to their communities and their passion for helping others continues to grow through their time at UC. I know mine did.”

Located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction offering quality undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and online degree programs. Learn more at