Arkansas Trucking Association awards scholarships to three graduating seniors

AR Scholarship Winners
Caiden Sallee (from right), Channlyn Vaughn and Ricky Watkins were awarded the Carl Tapp scholarship for pursuing careers in trucking and technology by the Arkansas Trucking Association. (Courtesy: Arkansas Trucking Association)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Three graduating seniors have been selected to receive scholarships from the Arkansas Trucking Association (ATA). Each student will receive a $7,500 scholarship from the Carl Tapp Memorial Scholarship Fund to support their pursuit of careers in medium/heavy duty truck technology.

This year’s scholarship recipients include Caiden Sallee of Gentry, Arkansas; Channlyn Vaughn of Jonesboro, Arkansas; and Ricky Watkins of Rogers, Arkansas.

“Without trucks, America stops; and without skilled technicians, trucks stop,” said Shannon Newton, president of ATA. “Truck drivers and diesel technicians are essential to a healthy economy. In fact, one in 10 working Arkansans has a career in trucking. And that’s what we’re providing with these scholarships — the opportunity to launch careers. We welcome this year’s scholarship recipients into our industry where they will learn to ensure the safety of trucking equipment on the roads we all share.”

Sallee graduated from Gentry High School, where he studied diesel electrical systems and was in the top 10% of his class. He plans to attend Northwest Technical Institute this fall.

“I want to become a diesel mechanic because it’s what I love doing,” Sallee said. “I love working hard and the variety of work that diesel mechanics do.”

Vaughn, who graduated from Westside High School this month has a passion for diesel technology and has been working on cars since she was 8 years old.

“Being a diesel technician has been a dream and lifelong goal of mine,” she said. “Growing up in a shop, I’ve never thought of a different career. I look forward to taking on the challenges ahead, as they are just stepping stones to my future.”

Watkins graduated from Rogers Heritage High School, where he served as captain of the wrestling team. He plans to enroll at Northwest Technical Institute to begin his formal studies.

“By becoming a technician, I will be helping thousands of Americans to get products all over the country,” Watkins said. “Because without trucks there would be nothing. No products in stores. No cars to drive. No fuel in gas stations. So, I think the career I chose is a pretty important one.”

ATA normally selects just one student to receive this scholarship, according to Kenneth Calhoun, founding member of the scholarship committee.

“The competition for the scholarship was so strong this year that we couldn’t pick just one, so instead we went with three students,” Calhoun said. “It’s a great problem to have: So many bright, aspirational problem-solvers wanting to become medium and heavy-duty truck technicians. I look forward to seeing their careers advance and watching as they become ambassadors for our industry.”

The ATA’s Maintenance & Technology Council established the Carl Tapp Memorial Scholarship Fund to celebrate Carl Tapp, the council’s first chairman, and his career-long commitment to nurturing new talent in the industry. Candidates were evaluated based upon their interest and performance in STEM courses, teacher and mentor recommendations and personal interviews with the scholarship committee of industry experts.

For more information about the scholarship fund, visit

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