The Extraordinary Campus Leadership and Service awards recognize graduating students who are extraordinary campus leaders for their significant service to others.
Natalie Campbell, a senior College Scholar majoring in disability studies, began her journey of advocacy and service for the rights and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in middle school, spearheading a local campaign to educate people about the negative impact of the word retarded in casual conversation. At UT, she has worked to enhance mutual respect and improve the lives of others. After realizing that people with certain intellectual disabilities do not qualify for Tennessee’s lottery-funded Hope Scholarship, Campbell contacted the governor and General Assembly herself to explain her concerns. A Chancellor’s Honors Program Scholar and College Scholar, Campbell conducts research in support of policy and legal changes to people with disabilities at UT and elsewhere.
Morgan Jeffries, a senior majoring in supply chain management, has been committed to recruiting and mentoring students, particularly minority students, throughout her time at UT. She has chaired the Black Cultural Programming Committee and served as a mentor in the Multicultural Mentoring Program, a counselor for the Minority Enhancement for UT Program, and an orientation leader. Those who work with her say Jeffries routinely builds time into her busy schedule to check in with her mentees, help them get acquainted with campus, and make sure they’re aware of important resources. “There are plenty of resources on campus to assist new students, but having a close relationship with an older student who understands what you’re going through is even better,” one of her mentees said. “My transition to college wouldn’t have been as smooth, enjoyable, and easy to navigate if it weren’t for Morgan Jeffries.”
Senior Ovi Kabir, a political science major, became involved with the Student Government Association in hopes of leaving UT better than he found it. Currently student body president, Kabir is responsible for numerous initiatives that have made students’ lives better. He was responsible for the bill that put QR codes on bus route signs so students can track the progress of buses. His legislation also benefited the university’s nonprofit food pantry, Smokey’s Pantry, by ensuring that the resource was included in course syllabi. Kabir serves as the first student representative on the UT Knoxville Advisory Board, which submits campus-level recommendations to the university’s Board of Trustees. He has been a member of the Tennessee Crew Club and coaches high school rowing students, and he is a founding member of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. One of his nominators said Kabir “is a person who cares deeply about the decisions he makes and uses his abilities to benefit others on this campus.”
Senior neuroscience major Anu Kumar has dedicated most of her work to helping others, inside and outside the lab. As a member of Diversity Educators, she has played a crucial role in helping her peers understand the value of differing opinions. Kumar also works to mentor future STEM students and educate her peers through various media platforms. She wrote a column for the Daily Beacon, “Brain Rules,” and created and hosted an accompanying podcast to make complex neuroscience material relatable, entertaining, and educational for a general audience. Kumar is a member of the Pride of the Southland Band, which has honored her with several awards. Looking ahead, her interest in pursuing neuroscience research has the potential to improve the lives of many.
Senior Cal Lane, who is pursuing a double major in social work and political science, is both a passionate activist and an exceptional leader dedicated to making UT a better place. Of their many contributions to our university and the local community, their efforts with the Commission for LGBT People stand above the rest. Despite a full course load, working to support themselves, and being involved in many extracurricular activities, Lane never wavered in their leadership, focus, and commitment to the commission. The fruit of their efforts is the Qloset, a free clothing closet targeted at transgender and nonbinary faculty, staff, and students. For those whose gender identities differ from society’s expectations, something as simple as shopping for clothes can be full of emotional pain and even physical violence, and Lane’s efforts provide a safe space. Lane also is involved with the Tennessee Equality Project, a statewide LGBTQ+ education and advocacy group. Through TEP, Lane has conducted widespread outreach regarding local affirming health resources to combat the health disparities that exist between non-LGBTQ+ people and the LGBTQ+ community.
Senior psychology major Emily Love has an unwavering commitment to uplifting her fellow Volunteers. She has been active with the Jones Center for Leadership and Service, participating as an Emerging Leader, a two-time Ignite Outdoors team leader, an Ignite Knox student director, a student assistant, a senior intern, a VOLBreaks leader, and a Leadership Knoxville Scholar. Administrators say that when Love leads a program—whether it’s a group of 20 or 1,000—those involved see her as both a welcoming friend and someone whose ethical leadership and integrity naturally shine through. One fellow student said, “Emily’s positive energy radiates in abundance no matter what she is working on.” Another said, “Her compassion and personality make her relatable and fun, but her strong values and level head define her as one of this university’s great leaders.”
Senior Patrick Sonnenberg, a Haslam Scholar and College Scholar studying the sociolinguistics of power, has made a positive impact in a wide variety of areas—registering college students to vote, environmental sustainability, sexual safety, and the intellectual development of young people. He’s been a proponent of undergraduate research, linguistics, and French language education. As co-chair of Sexual Empowerment and Awareness at Tennessee, he has worked to increase understanding about sexual violence and choice. As part of that effort, he organized a symposium around the intersections of gender, sexuality, and race. He’s also a Russian teaching assistant and a Safe Zone trainer. He’s taught French language and culture and gardening at Pond Gap Elementary School, and he’s helped with LEGO League sessions at Inskip Elementary. Sonnenberg has held leadership positions in the Spanish Club, Model UN, Youth in Government, the Gay-Straight Alliance, and Habitat for Humanity.
When senior Dalton Teel’s advisor first met him, she was impressed by his long-term leadership goals for his time at UT. While most freshmen were still trying to figure how to get from their residence hall to class, Teel was charting how he could make a positive impact on campus. And he’s succeeded. In the various positions he has held, Teel has spent countless hours working with student groups and the student government to empower change on campus. Teel, who is majoring in agricultural leadership, education, and communications, is an ambassador for the Herbert College of Agriculture. In that role, he’s devoted his energy and time in hopes of increasing college enrollment and empowering students to be the best they can be. As one college administrator wrote, “Dalton works daily to use his platform, leadership skills, and talents in communication to uplift the lives of those around him and establish a campus culture where everyone feels that they belong.” Teel has also served as an orientation leader, a deejay for WUTK, state secretary for the Tennessee Future Farmers of America, and a member of the Black History Month planning committee.