Torchbearer is the highest UT student honor. This distinction reminds us all that those who bear the Torch of Enlightenment shadow themselves to give light to others. Honors graduating seniors for academic excellence and service to the university and society at large.
In times of great challenge, real leaders emerge. Katie Arnold, a senior in nursing from Dayton, Tennessee, has had the opportunity to prove that at UT. As president of Alpha Chi Omega sorority, she took the reins during a pivotal time for the chapter. One sister said she took a “fractured organization, healed its wounds and turned it into a strong, close sisterhood.” She led the transition to a new house and guided the young women in achieving their best recruitment in years. Arnold also played a pivotal role on the Greek Life Task Force that was formed last fall. She brought the big-picture perspective needed for the task force’s work. As an orientation leader, she shared her deep love for UT and her enthusiasm for making new students feel at home. Arnold has also served through the Student Government Association, Student Alumni Associates, and Mortar Board Honor Society, among many other organizations. She was this year’s Miss Homecoming. Arnold works part time as a personal trainer and has performed well in managing the demands of the nursing program. She has served others through Habitat for Humanity, the YWCA, the Family Justice Center, and around the globe through nursing’s international service-learning trips.
Daniel Aycock is passionate about making sure his peers have a positive experience at UT. As a member of the Chancellor’s Honors Program Honors Council, he works to make their time here better through improving programming, advocacy, and communication. The senior accounting major from Kingsport, Tennessee, helps recruit high-achieving prospective students to UT as an Honors ambassador. He shares his own story with them and helps coordinate their visits. Aycock is a member of the second class of the Haslam Scholars Program. He has built many friendships and wants to help others become leaders too. Instead of running for Student Government Association president again, he helped others with their campaigns. Daniel is a true Volunteer in his commitment to service. In addition to SGA, he is involved in the Student Alumni Associates and the UT Men’s Chorale. Off campus, he has volunteered with the Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee and served as a media developer with the Jazz for Justice project, which works for holistic post-conflict reconstruction in northern Uganda.
Jon Carleton is working to make UT and the Knoxville community a little greener. Carleton, a senior in English literature from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, has logged hundreds of volunteer hours removing invasive plants in parks and picking up litter around the community. He has led numerous service trips to Ijams Nature Center. When temperatures dropped, he put in more work to compensate for the smaller volunteer attendance. He has organized cleanups of the Fort Sanders and Lonsdale neighborhoods and a nearby greenway. He is the compost manager for UT Recycling and directs SGA’s Environment and Sustainability Committee. He also serves on the student board that decides how to best allocate Green Fee funds. He led the TeamVOLS environment and sustainability efforts for several years before the organization became the Center for Leadership and Service. He now serves as the center’s service chair. Carleton embodies the Volunteer spirit in other areas. He has been a part of every Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service during his time at UT and led an alternative spring break trip to St. Louis in his junior year.
Betty Hong is changing UT and the world. The senior human resource management major from Nashville channeled her passion for social and economic justice into the creation of the Taking Action for Social Change (TASC) Force in 2010. The organization raised money to buy bicycles for high school and college students in Cambodia to travel to and from school. Hong also led an initiative to fund ten months of hot supplemental meals for thirty preschool students in the Svay Att Village of Cambodia. Her personal mission is to raise awareness about problems such as genocide, poverty, and hunger affecting Third World countries. She and other TASC Force leaders have hosted programs about these issues for their peers and the Knoxville community. Hong is a gifted mentor. As a resident assistant in Massey Hall, she involved her floor in clean-up days at the Salvation Army and in making gift boxes for Samaritan’s Purse that were distributed to children in need around the world. She sets an example for servant leadership and meaningful social change at UT. Her work embodies the Torchbearer’s Volunteer Creed. Hong is a member of Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity and a graduate of UT’s inaugural class of LeaderShape, a national program that encourages students to create a vision for the perfect world.
Blair Kuykendall, of Germantown, Tennessee, is graduating with an interdisciplinary degree in international law and economics. She is a Haslam Scholar, a Baker Scholar, and part of the College Scholars Program. Her professors describe her as a star even among very high-achieving students. One of her greatest achievements, however, has been her work on the Daily Beacon. She sought to inform her fellow students about campus issues through the Beacon and has certainly succeeded. In two years as editor in chief, she has dedicated many evenings and countless hours to make it a better publication. Her work will make a difference to students for many years to come. Last summer, Kuykendall studied abroad at the London School of Economics. She has served on the editorial board of Pursuit, the undergraduate research journal, for four years. She is also an Honors ambassador and a member of the Student Judiciary Board. She plans to attend law school at Georgetown University in the fall.
A senior in language and world business from Walton, Kentucky, Will Logan is a Chancellor’s Honors Scholar who has demonstrated a tremendous capacity for leadership and excellence during his time at Tennessee. Logan has served in the Student Government Association, the Interfraternity Council, and the Office of Student Orientation and Leadership Development. In his two years as an orientation leader, he has welcomed thousands of students and parents to campus. He is described as one of the most charismatic and professional student leaders the orientation office has ever seen. Logan’s commitment to service also includes his fraternity, Delta Tau Delta. During his year as president of the local chapter, he boosted participation in community service, doubled the amount of funds raised for philanthropic organizations, and garnered both the UT Interfraternity Council’s Chapter of the Year award and recognition as a Delta Tau Delta national Chapter of the Year. The council named him their Freshman of the Year, Sophomore of the Year, and Chapter President of the Year. As an out-of-state student, Logan knows the needs of his fellow students who travel to Tennessee to study. He is finishing an undergraduate research project on boosting retention rates and fostering a sense of belonging among students who leave home to come to Big Orange Country. Logan’s outstanding leadership, character, and passion have helped him “stand out from his peers as an exceptional student at the University of Tennessee,” in one nominator’s words. Logan is an accomplished pianist and cellist and a member of the Knoxville Opera Board. In his spare time, he travels to Washington to advocate for Middle East peace initiatives.
Adam Roddy is a student leader who serves his peers with humility. As president of the Student Government Association, he has “been focused on making a difference in the lives of students,” said his nominator. He has worked to give a voice to a broader base of students. After he was elected, Roddy opened administrative committee appointments for application rather than filling the roles by appointments. He also worked with another student to request funds that the SGA could award to organizations for student programming. He served as a legislative intern in the US House of Representatives and is a member of Student Alumni Associates, a UT ambassador, an Alternative Spring Break participant, and a Camp Koinonia counselor. His nominators note his leadership and his ability to build relationships. As SGA president, Roddy has served on the Alumni Board of Directors, a Board of Trustees committee, and the Chancellor’s Associates. A political science major from Dayton, Tennessee, he is a member of the Chancellor’s Honors Program.
Nia Sherif is being honored for her “natural leadership abilities, eagerness to be involved, and nature to serve others.” She has been dedicated to helping UT and her fellow students since she first arrived on campus. As a freshman, she served as an Ignite team leader and helped new students find their niche on campus. As a UT ambassador and a member of ME4UT, she welcomed prospective students to campus, with an emphasis on recruiting students from diverse cultures and backgrounds. For the past two years, Sherif has been a resident assistant and has focused her programming on safe habits and healthy lifestyles. She served as an Alternative Fall Break leader and described the experience as “life-changing.” She is a member of the Muslim Student Association and president of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. She also works with the American Cancer Society, Bridge Refugee Services, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Last fall, she organized a drive to support “Free the Girls,” a nonprofit that provides opportunities for women rescued from sex trafficking. In the words of a nominator, Sherif “displays a strong commitment to serving people and in many ways embodies what it means to be a true Volunteer.” She is a psychology and sociology major from Arlington, Tennessee.
Akshitha Yarrabothula, a chemical and biomolecular engineering major, is a Haslam Scholar, Chancellor’s Scholar, and Baker Scholar. Her dedication to research earned her a position as an undergraduate research assistant conducting graduate-level research. Her accolades include selection as the engineering first place divisional winner of the 2011 EUReCA competition and as UT’s representative for the first SEC Symposium. She has helped others through volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Knoxville and in the emergency room at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, among other organizations. Yarrabothula has led campus groups such as the Delta Phi Omega Sorority and the Society of Women Engineers. UT’s Department of Housing honored her as one of its most outstanding resident assistants. Yarrabothula is from Memphis and attended Germantown High School.