The Extraordinary Community Service award honors students and student organizations that exhibit the Volunteer spirit in the community.
Miranda Chen is a third-year PhD student in ecology and evolutionary biology from Toronto, Ontario. She has lead her department’s graduate student group, organizing events to broaden knowledge and create opportunities for fellow students. Within Knoxville’s Catholic Diocese, she co-organizes volunteer, social, and fundraising events for young professionals in two churches. A dedicated scientist and teacher, Chen has published work on increasing quantitative literacy among biology students and a teaching activity aimed at improving undergraduate students’ understanding of below-ground ecological interactions. She is also a teaching assistant for introductory biology courses and a volunteer course instructor for KidsU, which provides weeklong summer courses for elementary and high school students.
As a Leadership and Service Ambassador, senior Jay Patel has connected scores of fellow students with opportunities to serve—opportunities he knows firsthand, having volunteered in Knoxville community organizations including Habitat for Humanity and the Salvation Army. Patel, who is from Crossville, Tennessee, was the first student to receive the Meritorious Service Award from Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, where he helps in the emergency room and sits with dying patients who have no family. He was the Salvation Army’s Volunteer of the Month and received the 2017 Governor’s Volunteer Star Award, the state’s highest volunteer honor. A double major in psychology and in biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology, Patel has maintained a 4.0 GPA and taken part in numerous extracurricular and research activities. He serves as an honors tutor and mentor, a research assistant for several professors, and a certified nursing assistant.
As an immigrant from Pakistan, Samiha Sadruddin knows the difficulties a language barrier can create. As an aspiring pediatrician, she is passionate about access to health care. She has been involved in service activities in both areas since coming to UT from Chattanooga. Now a senior, she has served as a UT guide for international students and worked as an English teaching assistant at Southeast University in Nanjing, China. She is also the founder and president of UT’s Spanish Club, working with students at Inskip Elementary School. Sadruddin is a weekly volunteer at the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and went on an Alternative Spring Break trip to work with Hispanic communities and health care. She is vice president of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity on campus, a member of the Chancellor’s Honors Program, a Benjamin Gilman Scholarship recipient, and a laboratory assistant for microbiology.