The Extraordinary Campus Leadership and Service awards recognize graduating students who are extraordinary campus leaders for their significant service to others.
Kiah Albritton, a senior in public relations from Cordova, Tennessee, is described by a nominator as “joyous, dedicated, and selfless.” As student director of the Ignite Serves leadership and service program, she trains student leaders, develops and implements curriculum, and organizes more than 60 service sites. Albritton has served as an Alternative Break program participant, a Leadership Knoxville Scholar, and recruitment chair of Minority Enhancement for Tennessee. She is the recipient of both the Alex Haley and Anne Blackburn Scholarships.
Michael Curtis, a senior in nursing from Memphis, has served as the Student Government Association’s vice president, NAACP executive vice president, and Ignite Summit team leader. He is a member of Student Alumni Associates and Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, which he serves as a campus orientation director. He is a founder and the president of Brothers United for Excellence. Curtis is also active in the community, working at Beardsley Community Farm, managing volunteers for Ijams Nature Center, providing meals at Knox Area Rescue Mission, and watching babies and toddlers at the Children’s Center of Knoxville. Curtis is a Leadership Knoxville Scholar and College of Nursing student ambassador.
Mariah McClerkin, a senior in business from Nashville, has held multiple leadership roles within the Black Cultural Programming Committee. She’s helped organize successful events and built a strong team to carry on BCPC’s work after she graduates. McClerkin has served on a search committee in the Office of Multicultural Student Life and as a pledge educator in Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity, an officer in the Morrill Hall Residents Association, and a mentor in the Multicultural Mentoring Program. Off campus, she has helped establish a bone marrow registration program through Be the Match and mentored young women through Girl Talk.
Shaun McComas, a master’s student in social work from Barboursville, West Virginia, came to the University of Tennessee to obtain his bachelor’s degree as a non-traditional student once he was on his path to recovery from a substance use disorder. Now a master’s student in social work, he serves as a graduate assistant in the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards and as president of Rocky Top Recovery Group. He completed his graduate field placement with the Center for Health Education and Wellness and excelled in his time working with students in the program areas of alcohol and other drugs, facilitating group education programs, and conducting brief interventions. Colleagues say McComas has been dedicated to the well-being and support of students in all his work.
Even before beginning her doctoral program in educational psychology and research, Sarah Nadel was volunteering on campus. During her first year at UT, she was a graduate assistant in the Office of First-Year Studies. In her second year, she served on a faculty search committee and as secretary of the Graduate Student Senate. Nadel, from Peachtree City, Georgia, has been an integral member of the task force revising the university’s end-of-course evaluation survey. She has also served as a teaching assistant for numerous courses, exhibiting patience and excellence in her teaching.
Just months after Audrey Parker joined the Pride Ambassadors program, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion was defunded and the Pride Center’s support was stripped. Parker found a strengthened resolve to spread awareness and acceptance of the LGBTQIA community on campus. She was elected president of the Pride Ambassadors program, which under her leadership last year received the Charles R. Burchett Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Campus Life. A senior in geology from Spring Hill, Tennessee, Parker is the recipient of the Undergraduate Award for Professional Promise in Geology and the Outreach Award from the UT Geology Club. She also volunteers at the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture.
Maria Smith, a senior in English literature from Nashville, has worked to keep others informed as a weekly columnist for the Daily Beacon, a scriptwriter for the Vol Channel, a staff writer for Tennessee Journalist, and an intern with both the Knoxville Mercury and Latin American News Digest. Smith is the campus coordinator for community service for the student organization Women of Promise. She has served as a mentor in the Multicultural Mentoring Program, secretary of the Black Cultural Programming Committee, vice president of events for the 2017 Homecoming, and a participant in the Rocky Top Roundtables. She has been honored by Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society, Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society, and Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society.
Communications studies senior Kiana Townsel, from Memphis, has served as president and vice president of the UT NAACP chapter, co-founder and co-chair of the Black History Month Programming Committee, co-founder of the Torchbearer Tuesday Committee, speaker and menu coordinator for the Black Issues Conference Committee, mentee and mentor in the Multicultural Mentoring Program, ambassador for Undergraduate Admissions, and a resident assistant. In addition to her campus involvement, Townsel finds time to serve food at Knox Area Rescue Mission. “Kiana is passionate about serving and advocating for others,” one of her nominators wrote.