A Fulbright Scholar, Portrait of a Grissom Alumni

Grissom Graduate Uses Time at School to Achieve Greatness


Collin Caple, Writer, Assistant Manager

   Tyler Ann Caple, a 2014-2015 graduate of Grissom High School, has achieved numerous feats in both academic and cultural pursuits during and after her high school career. 

    Tyler’s claim to fame during her time at Grissom was her passion for Irish step-dance. Irish step-dance, a traditional solo and group dance which originated in Ireland, is a highly competitive art-form with elaborate costumes and strict decorum. 

    She learned at the Southern Irish Dance studio in Brentwood, Tennessee by Co-directors Aoibheann O’Brien Barbera and Jennifer Marshal. She traveled across state lines with her mother and younger siblings two to three times a week for practice, because it’s the nearest dance studio specializing in Irish dance. 

    Through her dedication, she placed 7th in Nationals and 39th in Worlds during the 2014 Irish Dance Championships in London, England. She also traveled to Montreal, Canada for previous competitions, as well as New Orleans, Anaheim, Orlando, Raleigh, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, and Wilmington. 

Tyler at the 2014 Irish Dance Championships
Tyler Competing at the 2014 Championships

   “Tyler Caple was driven and worked hard to accomplish her goals,” Kimberly Caple said, her mother, who accompanied her on competitions. “She was a very beautiful soft shoe dancer and powerful in her hard shoes.” 

    With her dedication to dance, it’s a wonder how incredibly studious she was at school, too. She managed to keep an A and B average and even made a 32 on the ACT. 

   “Clearly to me, when I think of her dance background, I think of someone who is very disciplined in getting accomplished what she wants,” Mrs. Bailey said, the AP US and Comparative Government and Micro- and Macro-economics teacher as well as co-sponsor of the National Honor Society at Grissom High School. When Tyler went to there, she had Mrs. Bailey for all these subjects.  

   “She was a discussion leader, someone who is always attentive and informed with a good amount of skepticism about why things were,” she commented. “[She] was attentive [and] willing to listen to what other people had to say, but certainly not shy about voicing what her views were. […] It wasn’t just a ‘dominating the conversation’ kind of thing just to dominate—it was to inform and to channel and to direct what other people were thinking.”  

  These academic and social skills led to her acceptance by the University of Mississippi, from which she graduated in 2019 with dual majors in International Studies and Mandarin Chinese and a minor in Environmental Studies. She had a full ride.  

  For her degree in Mandarin, Tyler was accepted into the Language Flagship program at Ole Miss and studied abroad at the Shanghai University in Shanghai, Changchun Normal University in Changchun, and the Nanjing University in Nanjing. She lived in China for a total of 10 months. 

Tyler dancing on the Great Wall
Tyler Irish dancing on the Great Wall of China

  She never lost her love of traveling. After graduating, she toured eastern Europe and southwest Asia from Prague, Czech Republic to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. At time of writing this article, she just finished a trip to France and Tanzania visiting other language students she befriended. 

  The language skills gave her many opportunities in the defense industry. When she lived in Huntsville after her graduation from Ole Miss, she worked for Dynetics and made a lot of money. However, she left the job to pursue her education even farther to the graduate level. 

  She applied for the Fulbright Program, a competitive scholarship sponsored by the United States Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and was accepted for a fully paid tuition at the National Chengchi University in Taipei in Taipei, Taiwan. She will begin school this upcoming semester. 

   “[A] powerful thing is that she’s been willing to keep in touch, to serve like coming last year and speaking to my students, being willing to be that channel for other people and to let people know what Grissom students are capable of and what the opportunities are,” Mrs. Bailey said regarding Tyler’s activity. 

I managed to catch Tyler as she was going through Taipei’s Immigration and Customs. “I think it’s important to find ways to make your abstract goals concrete, whether that be through opportunities in or outside of college. Being intentional with smaller decision will put you on the right path towards achieving your ultimate goal.”