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Noe’l Bailey looks forward to next step

Seventeen year-old Noe’l Bailey has lived in Unicoi County her entire life–so when it comes to packing up and leaving her childhood home this fall, she can’t help but feel a few jitters. However, taking the next step in her life’s journey is something she’s looking forward to as her time at Unicoi County High School draws to a close.
This fall, Bailey, who has always been active and involved in school functions, will attend Lee University, a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Church of God. The university, located more than three hours away in Cleveland, Tenn., seems a long way from home for Bailey, who has never been apart from her family and home in Flag Pond for a long period of time.
“I love it here,” she said of Unicoi County. “I’m really nervous about moving, but I’m excited at the same time. I’ve never really been away from home, so it’s going to be a new experience. But I’m excited about it.”
Bailey will move into her designated residence hall at Lee University on Aug. 19, where she will meet a roommate and two suite mates for the first time.
“I hope to make a lot of new friends,” she said. “I’ve had a room to myself most of the time, but I did share a room when I was little. I’ll get used to (having a roommate). I’m really organized, so I’m a little afraid, but I’ll go with whatever comes.”
Already enrolled in 15 hours of coursework this fall, Bailey plans to seek a degree in business with an emphasis on international business. While all Lee University students will receive a minor in religion, Bailey also hopes to minor in ministry or missions. Both her major and her minor will lead her toward one of her lifelong goals–travel.
“I want to travel,” Bailey said. “I have a lot of places I want to go, and I think it will help to have a job that allows me to. I’ve never been outside the United States before.”
As a student active in clubs and organizations, Bailey hopes to continue in that tradition at Lee University by becoming involved in student organizations and campus groups. In fact, many of her experiences at UCMS and UCHS have led her to become active in efforts led by the American Cancer Society–a cause she hopes to continue in Cleveland.
“One of the most impacting (experiences) I’ve had is being involved in the Blue Nation Warriors for Nick Rogers,” Bailey said. “I’ve been involved with that since the eighth grade. I really like the American Cancer Society. One of my goals is if (Lee University) doesn’t have a Relay For Life team, I want to start one.”
Aside from starting a campus Relay team, Bailey hopes to become active in other areas of campus life, as well. She is accustomed to staying active, which is something she doesn’t plan to change after she graduates.
“I enjoy every minute of being busy and being involved in clubs,” she said. “When I’m not busy, I don’t know what to do.”
With the excitement of college on the horizon, however, Bailey’s thoughts do linger on all she’ll be leaving behind–supportive parents, great friends, caring teachers and a positive school experience.
“When I went to look for colleges, my dad said, ‘You can go to any college you want,’ “ Bailey said. “So I got to choose. My family is very supportive of my decisions, and they’ve given me a lot of help.”
Some of the things Bailey will miss most about high school are her friends and teachers who have made a special impact on her life over the years. She describes the class of 2011 as a close-knit group that will be hard to leave behind.
“Everyone talks to everyone,” she said. “We’re a very close class, and I’ll miss all my friends. I love our school system. It’s really good. I have a really close bond with a lot of the teachers. They’re all very caring and always willing to help or stay after school.”
During her high school years, Bailey has served in student leadership positions, including class president; held positions in Beta Club, Student Council, Christian Student Union, National Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America and Unicoi County’s Relay For Life. Bailey has also been involved in a variety of volunteer work and fund raisers for community and church organizations, including the American Cancer Society, Operation Christmas Child, Angel Tree and Habitat for Humanity. During her time at UCHS, Bailey, who maintains a 3.9 grade-point-average, has also earned several academic awards.
While Bailey’s accolades are too numerous to detail in a single article, she will be leaving a full life in Unicoi County to begin a new one at Lee University. For Bailey, that’s definitely something to look forward to.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know new people and to try to find out exactly what I want to do with my life,” she said.
Bailey is the daughter of Pascal and Karen Bailey of Flag Pond. She is the granddaughter of John and Gail Benton and Grady and Flossie Bailey.