Syreeta Vaughn

Syreeta Vaughn

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Senior Mission Support Specialist

Hometown: Knoxville, TN

What is your vision for Knoxville 10 years from now?

In 10 years, I can’t imagine the growth that will happen. But, I do know that Knoxville will be different. In my lifetime, I have seen so much change. But the one thing that remains the same has been the big “small” town vibe we have. I hope Knoxville College is back up and running. I hope our community schools are thriving, along with improvements to our 3rd grade reading scores. I hope that we have enough daycares to provide the services that working parents need. I hope that our community reflects the type of diversity that makes everyone feel welcome.

What is Knoxville’s Best Kept Secret?

Knoxville’s best kept secret are our fall evenings. I love fall. The weather is great. The humidity is low. Its the righ kind of temperature for families to still hang outside but want to snuggle up under a blanket at a football game. Fall is the best secret, y’all.

What would you do to strengthen Knoxville?

I don’t know if I have the power or authority. But, I would bring back Knoxville College or some version of it. This college was the pipeline of diversity in our community. For generations, the college was a major contributor to the growth and sustainability of the black community. I would address Knox County school schedule. The number of half days, early release days, holidays, in-service days and on and on and on are disruptive to working families. I understand administrators need planning time but we’ve got to address the burden to working families. When you add the out of school days to the before and after school needs, school can be a limiting factor to a families income capabilities.

What is your favorite Knoxville memory?

My favorite Knoxville memory is sitting on my great-grandmothers porch and listening to the Knoxville College Drum core practice at the band field. My second favorite memory is riding on the kamikaze ride at the county fair and watching my brother spit on his own face as the ride spun around and our seats slid to the top of the ceiling.

What is your favorite book or what book is currently on your nightstand?

My favorit book is “The Shack.” A book on my nightstand is “Vanishing Half.”

What is the best advice you have received from a mentor, and who was that mentor?

Arlin Yeager, “it all pays the same.”

What advice would you give to your 16 year old self?

Go get it. Don’t let anyone stop you.

Syreeta Vaughn