WOLFE COUNTY, Ky (WYMT) - As the WYMT Food City Mountain Classic continues this week, we are profiling the three winners of the Ralph Gabbard Memorial Broadcasting Scholarship.
One of them attends Wolfe County High School, senior Erica Mattingly.
On a normal school day, high school students at Wolfe County High School begin their day in a classroom. But for Erica, a member of ECA, Early College Academy, she begins some days on a college campus.
"You become a college student. You take real college classes and can earn an Associate's Degree which is what I'll be earning in April," said Mattingly. She will earn her Associate's in Art.
After graduating, she can begin her career path, taking courses towards her major right away.
"I'd really like to be a pharmaceutical sales representative. I love talking to people. I love sales. I love business. And I love the travel aspect of it and meeting all different kinds of people," said Mattingly.
When WYMT asked Erica if she wanted to travel to stay away or eventually come home her response became emotional.
"I definitely want to make a huge impact on the community that's a huge goal of mine. I want to make a difference somehow. I think people look at Eastern Kentucky and they see a bunch of hillbillies but that is not what we are. We're a bunch of hard workers who work together, we come together for our communities," said Mattingly.
"It's important for people to see and know that and it's important for people to see what can come out of small communities from Eastern Kentucky."
Making sure she does and continues to do all she can for her community Mattingly tutors, she volunteers at nursing homes and works a full-time job at the Red River Smokehouse.
"It's really hard. Juggling school and social life and working every single weekend, 12-hour shifts. It's worth it in the end. Having my own money and paying my own bills."
And when you do not see her at work, you can catch her in the library.
"I love to read. I love to write. Love movies, I'm a movie fanatic."
Her favorite movie is 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' because of the message. "No matter how bad things get you've got to keep going, you gotta keep fighting," she said. She uses this message as a way to keep her herself going during difficult times.
"Depression, anxiety is where I have definitely had to keep fighting and working towards my goals."
She knows her work is not done yet but just beginning.
"With the money I've earned from this scholarship I can go to a college of my choice and use towards a career in which I can impact people all over the world."