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Connestee Falls Scholarship Awarded To Elise Poché

A native of New Orleans, Elise Poché moved to this area when she was 7 years old.

She explains that her younger brother's birth in 2008 was the catalyst for the family's move from the city, where the family has long roots.

Poché parents, Christopher and Patricia, wanted a safer environment with good schools in which to raise their children.

When their research revealed that Transylvania County has some of the best schools in the southeast, they moved to Brevard.

Poché is a 2020 graduate of Brevard High School and a recipient of a Connestee Falls scholarship.

Her father is a manager at FedEx in Asheville and her mother is the director of religious education at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Brevard. Her brother, Joshua, a tri-sport athlete, is in seventh grade.

Poché's career at Brevard High was a busy one. She participated in the marching band all four years, acting as assistant section leader of the front ensemble in 2018 and 2019 and playing marimba, vibraphone and xylophone. With the band she competed at the district and state levels all four years. Also, in her freshman year she joined the Brevard High School Wind Ensemble, where she played the clarinet, an instrument she has been playing since she was in sixth grade. In clarinet competition, she was 15th in the state her sophomore year and 10th her junior year. She was also on the varsity swim team during the winter seasons of her sophomore, junior and senior years. In her freshman year Poché took part in the T.I.M.E. 4 Real Science Program. She and her partner Emily Trusler tested the capacity of entomo-pathogenic fungi to act as a natural control of the mosquito population. Their research indicated that further study is warranted. Poché joined the science program again in her senior year. She and her partners, Nicole Vargas Sancho and Jarek Stewart-Karolewics, collected mushrooms from Holmes State Forest and tested them to find out if they had any antimicrobial properties. They tested chanterelle, turkey tail, oyster and violet toothed mushrooms. The turkey tails showed promise, as did the researchers who won first place in biological sciences at the North Carolina Student Academy of Science fair.

Very soon Poché will enroll at Tulane University in New Orleans.

She is delighted that Tulane will allow her to graduate in four years, with a dual major in her two areas of passion, music and science. She will pursue a degree in music and cell and molecular biology.

In the future she sees herself working in a lab searching for natural ways to solve health problems, and perhaps also travelling the world playing music. While she is happy to be returning to her roots in New Orleans, Poché is also thankful that she had the opportunity to live in this area, with its beautiful forests, which are "unlike anything [she] had ever experienced before." She will take with her "many fond memories" of collecting specimens in the "fruitful soils" for her research, of paddling on the rivers and lakes, and of camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Poché is thankful for the Connestee scholarship, as she would not have been able to attend Tulane without financial help. In her view, the Connestee Scholarship Program "is a really good program, which helps a lot of kids make an impact on the world."

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