2009 Rogers Scholars alum Donavyn Coffey

As a small town girl growing up in rural Kentucky, Rogers Scholars alum Donavyn Coffey has come a long way from the rolling hills of Russell County to the streets of New York City.

Coffey, a 2009 graduate of The Center for Rural Development’s Rogers Scholars program, is a freelance science and health reporter working in New York and operating her own freelance business.

While Coffey is pursuing a career in journalism, it was her experience as a Rogers Scholar that helped direct and motivated her to plan for the future.

“Meeting the other Scholars encouraged and inspired me to dream a little bigger,” Coffey said. “It was the first step in the right direction.”

Eleven years later, Coffey is well on her way to following her dreams. She graduated from New York University in 2019 with a master’s degree in journalism and started working as a freelance science and health reporter.

Coffey attended the University of Kentucky and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in agriculture biotechnology. After graduating from UK, she moved to Denmark to study molecular nutrition, specifically the connection between food and disease, on a Fulbright Fellowship and graduated from Aarhus University with a master’s degree in molecular nutrition and food technology.

Coffey later moved back to Lexington to work at a biotech company, but soon discovered that was not the career path she wanted to follow in life.

“After a while I realized, I liked to talk about science more than I liked to run experiments,” Coffey said. “So, I first became a science writer and then moved to New York to pursue journalism.”

She is the daughter of Troy and Allison Coffey of Russell County.

Rogers Scholars is an intensive one-week summer program that provides valuable leadership skills and exclusive college scholarship opportunities for students in Southern and Eastern Kentucky to help seize their potential as the region’s next generation of leaders. The program is available to current high school sophomores in The Center’s 45 county service area.

In addition to leadership experiences, students are eligible to apply for more than $8 million in scholarships at 18 universities across the Commonwealth of Kentucky and 1 in Tennessee. This program is provided at no cost to students and is solely funded by fundraising and donations.

To donate to the Rogers Scholars program, visit centeryouthprograms.com or contact Allison Cross at across@centertech.com or call 606-677-6019.