Kenner Discovery alum Najah Nicholas receives National Essay Scholarship

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Najah Nicholas

Four-sport star Najah Nicholas of Kenner Discovery is one of two winners nationally of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Essay Scholarship program.

The class Valedictorian of the very first senior class in Kenner Discovery history, Nicholas was first in her class with a 4.0 GPA and earned 11 varsity letters combined in girls basketball, softball track and field and volleyball.

Nicholas, who graduated in 2020, is now a freshman set to play softball at Xavier University.

Contact: Mike Blackburn
NIAAA Announces 2020 National Scholarship Recipients

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (January 8, 2021) — The two winners of the 2020 NIAAA Student Essay Scholarship Program were announced on December 11, 2020 during the Opening General Session of the National Athletic Directors Conference. The 51st National Conference, jointly sponsored by the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association and the National Federation of State High School Associations, took place virtually for the first time ever. The NIAAA Scholarship program, now in its 14th year, receives nomination forms and student essays from all 50 state athletic administrator associations and the District of Columbia. The eight sections that make up the NIAAA then choose a male and female winner from the states within their section to produce 16 finalists. The NIAAA Board of Directors evaluate the finalists’ scholastic record, athletic participation accomplishments, citizenship and leadership credentials to choose the one male and one female national recipient. The winners did read their essay and received a $2500 scholarship, however as a result of the national conference being virtual, the NIAAA sent the recipients their trophy and plaque for their high school through the mail. Following are the two 2020 recipients:

Cole Hagen – Corner Canyon High School, Draper, Utah

Cole Hagen kept a well-balanced high school career comprising of school duties, athletics, and community engagement. He graduated with a 4.0 grade point average from Corner Canyon High School and will attend Yale University in Connecticut. The Director of Athletics at Corner Canyon is Patrick Thurman, RAA.

A four-time state champion, Cole participated in three varsity sports at Corner Canyon. He played football and track for four years and basketball for three years – earning nine varsity letters in total. In addition, as a QB on the football team he was named team captain his senior year, the 2019 Gatorade Player of the Year, and the 2019 Utah 6A MVP.

“Being able to lead through inspiration is a great characteristic, and one that Cole will be able to continue to use the rest of his life in his various endeavors,” Thurman said.
The 4.0 grade point average Cole earned put him at the top of his class. Within his school, he was involved in Especially For Athletes (E4A), a group that engaged responsibly and positively in competitive endeavors. He also was a part of the National Honor Society and volunteered 30 hours of service per year.

In the community, Cole gave his time to the Draper Rehab Care Center and the St. Vincent Homeless Shelter, among others.

Najah Nicholas – Kenner Discovery Health Sciences Academy, Kenner, Louisiana

Najah Nicholas was valedictorian of the inaugural senior class to graduate from Kenner Discovery Health Sciences Academy. As one of the founding students, Najah’s leadership helped develop the athletic program to be fairly competitive. The athletic administrator at Kenner Discovery, Jeryl Fischtziur, CAA experienced Najah’s leadership first-hand.
“It has been a pleasure to coach Najah on our girls basketball and softball teams, as her example of hard work and leadership has helped build both programs into state playoff teams,” Fischtziur said.

As a four-sport athlete – including volleyball, basketball, softball, and track and field – Najah earned 11 varsity letters. She was All-District four times, twice each for volleyball and basketball, and was a District Finalist for track and field.

With a 4.0 grade point average, she finished first in her class. Najah held several school leadership positions. She was the Student Council Executive Board Vice President, the National Honor Society Historian, and Founder and President of the American Sign Language Club. In addition, she also participated in the Chick-fil-A Leadership Academy.

Najah’s community activities included giving over 500 hours volunteering at Ochsner Medical Center and UMC, being a junior counselor for Camp Discovery and Greater New Orleans Association of Student Councils, and spending around 30 hours a year tutoring. Najah is now a freshman at Xavier University of Louisiana and is a member of the softball team.


About the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA)
The NIAAA is the professional organization for interscholastic athletic administrators that is accredited by Cognia. Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, the NIAAA’s mission is to provide professional development options for directors of athletics, and to enhance the athletic administration profession. Since 1977, the NIAAA has served those who lead education-based athletic programs in the nation’s schools. With a current individual membership of over 13,000, the NIAAA consists of member state athletic administrator associations in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, as well as internationally. Including a 51-course Leadership Training curriculum, six levels of certification, and leadership opportunities, the NIAAA is the professional leader in assisting athletic administrators or individuals in roles that lead school-based sports programs. While also providing networking and exchange of ideas, the association focuses on evaluating best-practices, providing practical resources, and methods of recognition. The NIAAA champions the profession of athletic administration through education opportunities, advocating ethics, developing leaders and fostering community. For more information, visit the NIAAA website at

Dr. Mike Blackburn, CAA, 317-587-1450
Executive Director
National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association

Justin Chapman, 317-587-1450
National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association

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