Six Alumni Receive YAPD Grant for Professional Development

Alumni, News

The Office of Alumni Relations recently announced the winners of the 2022 Young Alumni Professional Development (YAPD) Grant.

The YAPD Grant program supports alumni participating in initiatives, events, trainings, and projects related to professional development. The grant is open to all Lee University alumni, regardless of academic training or professional experience, so long as the individual is currently employed and within 10 years of graduating from a Lee undergraduate program.

This year’s recipients are Audrey Brokish, Cory Collins, Sammie Kate Eason, MaKenzee Gossett, Brandyn Kirby, and Joshua Lyle.

Audrey Brokish

Brokish is a graduate student who plans to use the funding for Intensive Opera Training at the International Performing Arts Institute in Germany. “This highly competitive summer program will be a significant experience for me as an artist and will help kickstart my career as an opera singer,” said Brokish. “This program invites some of the best singers, directors, and acting coaches in our industry to work with a select group of students from all over the world. I am very honored to have the opportunity to represent the Lee University School of Music in Germany this summer and am thankful for the support I have generously received through the YAPD Grant.”

Cory Collins

Collins graduated in 2013 and works at Renew Counseling and Wellness as a marriage and family therapist. With her funds, she plans to acquire a certification in sex therapy through the American Board of Christian Sex Therapists.

Sammie Kate Eason

Eason, a kindergarten teacher at Mayfield Elementary School, graduated in 2021 and will use her funds to improve her classroom. “The YAPD Grant will play such a significant role in the academic lives of my students,” said Eason. “This grant will fund my classroom with amazing instructional materials such as flexible seating, flexible lighting, and small group learning resources. These materials will help me better serve my students by further enriching their classroom experiences and accommodating their individual learning needs.”

MaKenzee Gossett

Gossett is a Knox County Schools teacher and graduated from Lee in 2019. With his funds, he will purchase classroom supplies needed for his first year of teaching.

Brandyn Kirby

Kirby, a legal intake specialist at Rocky McElhaney Law Firm, graduated in 2020. He plans to use his funds to purchase a new laptop for Belmont University College of Law.

Joshua Lyle

Lyle graduated in 2020 and is now the lead pastor at Yuma Christian Church. His funds will go toward beginning a youth program at his church and upgrading equipment. “We believe that the students in our town can and will have a major impact for the Church if only we can find better and more sustainable ways to engage them long-term,” said Lyle. “We’ve already started implementing some things here, and the grant has helped in a major way!”

“Lee is so proud of these alums and the work they are doing in their respective fields and disciplines,” said Dr. Brad Moffett, vice president for University Relations. “We wish them the best as they use these grant funds for professional development. A special thank you to the members of the Alumni Advisory Board for their work in awarding these grants.”

For more information or to apply for the YAPD Grant, contact or (423) 614-8316.

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