Bryan Freshman Eden Daniel Earns Leadership Award


Bryan Freshman from Smith County High School Has a Lifetime of Volunteer Work.

Earns Congressional Medal of Honor Top 20 in Youth Leadership and Exceptional Service.

This article was written by Gary Bolden and published in the Tennessee Community Magazine on December 4, 2023.

Eden Daniel, a freshman at Bryan College where she is a Keeper on the Lady Lion’s soccer team and Ambassador to Bryan’s admissions office, has an astounding record of community service achievements. A graduate of Smith County High School in Smith County, TN, Daniel logged a record-breaking 700 volunteer hours in her high school career. Raising supplies and money for the local women’s and children’s homes, spearheading food drives for the local animal welfare nonprofits, spending hours as a peer buddy, teaching art to autistic children at a private school for special needs children, and creating the local plunge team to raise several thousand dollars for the annual Special Olympics Polar Plunge.

Her extensive community service earned Daniel several prestigious honors. She received Governor Lee’s Star Award for Outstanding Youth Leadership and Exceptional Service for her work helping disadvantaged women and children. Daniel was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor for Community Service for her efforts in aiding homeless and abused animals.

Most impressively, Daniel became the first high school student in Smith County to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor Top 20 in Youth Leadership and Exceptional Service. This national award recognizes Daniel’s exemplary community service and leadership in achieving the award’s objective of placing others before themselves through volunteer services.

Daniel accomplished all of this service while maintaining her academics as an honor student, participating in multiple school clubs and organizations, working a part-time job, and playing as varsity soccer goalkeeper and team manager for the men’s team.

Smith County Mayor Jeff Mason describes Eden as a motivated, caring, and mature young lady who leads by example.” She has inspired fellow students and set a new standard for community service in Smith County. There is no telling Eden no, she will find a way to make the impossible possible. I watched her stand out in a bear costume in the middle of winter, in the rain, to help ease the embarrassment and fears of children whose parents were waiting in line for the food truck during the months after the pandemic, was humbling and heartwarming. Eden was soaked and freezing but she didn’t care. She even began handing out boxes in that costume”

“This is a wonderful achievement for Eden and her family! Not only does this exemplify the type of leader she is, but also the tremendous work ethic and determination she shows to serve others above herself! We at Bryan are very proud of her for this ward” Tom Halsall Head women’s soccer coach at Bryan College. “

Daniel’s accomplishments demonstrate that young people can make a meaningful difference in their communities. “Eden is an exceptional student ambassador at Bryan College! Her dedication and passion for her role are greatly appreciated! She effortlessly guides visitors through engaging and informative campus tours. She goes above and beyond, ensuring that prospective students and their families feel welcome, answering their questions, and providing valuable insights into campus life. Her enthusiasm is contagious, making each tour an unforgettable experience! Moreover, Eden’s commitment extends beyond campus tours as she actively participates in events, orientations, and information sessions, contributing to the overall recruitment efforts of the college! With her warm personality and genuine care for others, Eden embodies what it means to be a stellar student ambassador, leaving a lasting impression on all who have the privilege of interacting with her!” exclaimed Angie Spradling Stephens, Admissions Coordinator at Bryan College.

It is evident that Eden has left a lasting impression and bettered the lives of many through her volunteering and service in her young years. Daniel has already found several ways to continue giving back while pursuing her Pre Athletic Training degree and a minor in coaching at Bryan. She will serve as a youth soccer coach this spring for the local Rhea County Soccer League. She is also working with The Athletic Shop in Chattanooga to purchase brand-new clothing at discounted prices for the future Rhea-Bledsoe County Isaiah 117 ministry for foster children.

“I didn’t always have it easy growing up. God brought me and my Mom out of a horrific situation and delivered us into a real family and real love. I will never forget those days when Mom didn’t have food for us because of my biological father’s choices. Or the days I didn’t have proper clothing for school or we were huddled together because the power had been shut off and he was out spending the money on alcohol. He was a pastor and he of all people should have known better. But God always took care of me and her. We would come home to food on the porch, sometimes bags of new clothes for me, or even the lights paid anonymously. And despite him, we made it. I found God, and God brought me a real Daddy who loved us, and showed me the sacrifice he was willing to endure to keep us safe and provide for our family. He put his career dreams on hold for years so I could grow up in a stable home and stop moving around. I had moved over 12 times before I was 7.”

“He never missed a cheer competition or soccer game. He provided me with two little brothers who are my whole world! I will never forget where I came from and instead of letting it make me bitter, I chose to let it make me better. Sometimes we have no idea what’s going on with the people around us. Isn’t it amazing we have the ability in our way, to make a difference and change the lives of others! It’s one of the many reasons I chose Bryan College. Bryan provides so many opportunities to serve the community and service others.”

This article was written by Gary Bolden and published in the Tennessee Community Magazine on December 4, 2023.