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.
Paige Atchley is a leader who thinks about serving current students but also those who will become Volunteers in the future. From Hixson, Tennessee, Atchley is a member of the Chancellor’s Honors Program and a Global Leadership Scholar majoring in marketing. This year, she has served as vice president of the Student Government Association. She had a major role in developing the Senior Gift Campaign and I Heart UT Week. Atchley was a co-founder and the first president of the campus philanthropic organization Impact, which she now serves as an ambassador. She also received the Traditions Keeper Award for performing more than forty UT traditions as a student. In the words of a nominator, Atchley “carries the torch in hopes of helping and enlightening others, while happily serving from beneath the shadows.”
Jake Baker, a senior in political science from Franklin, Tennessee, who led the student body as its president this year, is described as an ultimate example of servant leadership. Baker’s love for the university is evident every time he speaks to a current or prospective student. As an admissions ambassador, Ignite team leader, and orientation leader, he is someone who “was always giving his all to shine light on the university,” a nominator said. Baker has the gift of connecting with students, reinforcing how they are going to change the world. Nominators recognize his humility as well as his willingness to help without feeling that he has to be acknowledged. A nominator said, “Whether it is advocating for the establishment of a student food pantry or in the mentorship of a single student, Jake believes wholeheartedly in sharing leadership with those around him.”
Kristen Barnett has worked hard to promote diversity and inclusiveness on campus. The Memphis senior is graduating with a degree in journalism and electronic media. Barnett is an anchor, reporter, and producer for the UT Today television program. She has served for four years at the Volunteer Channel along with her work as a student alumni associate and member of the College of Communication and Information Diversity Student Leaders Society. Barnett is best known for her promotion of a community that is welcoming to all. She helps to develop new leaders by creating an atmosphere for students to feel confident in their leadership abilities. She volunteers with Rock the Vote and Long Distance Voter to promote voter registration among college students. She has also been alumni chair of the Mortar Board honor society.
Ariel Buehler is passionate about an unlikely combination: science and music. A Haslam Scholar from Knoxville, she is a senior in food science and technology with a minor in music. This year she was awarded the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship. Buehler is a violist for the UT Symphony Orchestra, the UT Opera Orchestra, and the UT Chamber Orchestra. She teaches viola as a volunteer at the Joy of Music School and has taught more than 360 hours of lessons to at-risk children. In addition, she has served as student trustee for the Knoxville Opera Board of Directors and product development chair for the Institute of Food Technologists Student Association. “She is consistently demonstrating a pursuit of excellence, service, and initiative that goes well beyond expectations. She will undoubtedly continue to excel at all she undertakes, and she will be a true Volunteer for life,” said a nominator.
Lisa Dicker gets the job done, thanks to an uncanny ability to put plans into action. A Chancellor’s Honors Program senior from Tullahoma, Tennessee, she is majoring in political science and Asian studies. Dicker served as president of the Central Program Council this year. She also worked collaboratively with the Student Government Association on the “Student Fees, Student Freedom” campaign. She is a Baker Scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa national honor society, and served as president and captain of this year’s Undergraduate Mock Trial. “Students like Lisa Dicker prompt me to say ‘This is why I love my job.’ Students like this are irreplaceable and make universities come alive,” said a nominator.
Eric Dixon graduated in the fall semester with four majors: philosophy, economics, sociology, and global studies. He is the founding president of UT’s Community Partnerships Service Corps, which helped create a culture of sustainable service on campus. He also co-founded the UT Coalition for Responsible Investment and helped establish the UT chapter of the Roosevelt Institute. A Knoxville native, Dixon was selected as a member of the inaugural class of C2C Fellows at the Center for Environmental Policy at Bard College. He was a finalist for the Truman Scholarship, a national scholarship given to students who have demonstrated promise as agents of social change. His nominators agree that he will continue to change the world around him well into the future.
Jasmine Hammons has left no stone unturned in learning about the campus and its resources. As an ambassador for the university and the College of Business Administration, she takes seriously her role in supporting and encouraging her fellow Volunteers. A senior in business analytics from Bradenton, Florida, Hammons has served as president of Mortar Board honor society and a vice president of finance for the National Panhellenic Council. She is also a founding member and vice president of UT’s Business Analytics Society. For the past four years, she has coordinated the National Foundation for Suicide Prevention campus walk. She also volunteers with Remote Area Medical, which provides basic health care to underserved populations. “Her knowledge about the stories of her classmates and faculty is truly astounding. She takes that information, whether it is recommendations or concerns, and molds it into new organizations or ideas to promote excellence for the student body,” said one nominator.
Lindsay Lee is gifted with a combination of creativity and leadership. A senior Haslam Scholar from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, she has been awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, an honor given to only thirty-two students in a pool of 850 nominees. Lee is the founder of Campus Disability Advocates, and her disability advocacy is a perfect example of her drive to create lasting change. The group’s annual Disability Awareness Week engages the community in workshops and cultural activities to broaden awareness of disabilities. Campus and city leaders consult the group about creating access for the disabled before starting new buildings or making infrastructure changes. All who know Lee recognize her power and ability to make lasting change in the world.
Terry Nowell is a dedicated leader and a voice for those in need. He graduated in the fall with a degree in biology and biochemistry as a Chancellor’s Scholar. He has served as a medical fellow in remote villages in India and worked on health policy issues through an internship in US Senator Lamar Alexander’s office. Nowell, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, has served on campus as vice president of the Student Government Association. He’s also been at the center of important issues through the Greek Life Task Force and UPSF Program Board. He’s been an orientation leader and participated in Alternative Spring Break. “His combination of strong academics, commitment to serving others, and proven experience in governance exemplify all that the Torchbearer Award signifies,” his nomination stated.
Inspirational is a perfect way to describe Diane Tate. After a faculty member heard Tate speak as a UT admissions ambassador, she said she was never more proud to be at the University of Tennessee. A senior communication studies major from Chattanooga, Tate is active with the Commission for Blacks, Minority Enhancement for the University of Tennessee, the Student Government Association, the Chancellor’s Civility Task Force, the Vice Chancellor for Student Life’s Diversity Roundtable, and the programming committee of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. From her participation in the Business Education for Talented Students program early in her UT career, Tate immediately established herself as a role model and a star student. She is known as someone who brings positive energy to each situation and improves the quality of life for others.
Paul Troy’s great judgment helped to coin a phrase that will certainly live on. Troy was such an effective orientation leader that his colleagues adopted the saying “What would Paul do?” when making decisions, then taught the phrase to the next round of orientation leaders. Troy, a major in history and secondary education from Santa Fe, Tennessee, has been a resident assistant, executive treasurer for the Student Government Association, and an ambassador. He also serves on the Vice Chancellor for Diversity’s Student Advisory Council. He proposed the SophoMORE Living and Learning Community to help build the foundation for students’ continued service. As an RA, he is well known for never letting people eat alone. Troy’s love for UT and the respect of his peers epitomize the values of the Torchbearer.
Katherine Waxstein, a senior from Maryville, Tennessee, is a leader, mentor, and public servant on campus and in the community. Waxstein, a child and family studies and psychology major, has dedicated herself to UT’s Center for Leadership and Service, playing vital roles in the Ignite program. She is one of UT’s first Leadership Knoxville Scholars. She mentors Pond Gap Elementary students weekly through the Character Development Program, which she created to help elementary school youth overcome behavioral issues in the classroom. She is working to develop the program into a UT course. Waxstein “understands the power and potential of making other people a priority and giving to them more than she gives to herself,” said a nominator.