The Jimmy and Ileen Cheek Graduate Student Medal of Excellence is awarded annually to an outstanding student currently pursuing a PhD who has completed at least four semesters of study.
Amanda Rigell is a doctoral candidate and graduate teaching associate in literacy education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her research interests include instructional decision-making, reading motivation, and the reading-writing connection. She is a licensed Reading Specialist with 13 years of experience as a middle and high school classroom teacher.
What does being a Volunteer mean to you? How has UT empowered you to make a difference in a way you might not have imagined elsewhere?
Being a Volunteer means looking for opportunities to help lift others up. My faculty advisors, my professors, and my peers in my department at UT have challenged me to think critically and advocate for underserved communities and populations in K-12 education. I am so thankful for their steadfastness in always first recognizing and naming the good in others, then doing whatever they can to help others grow and succeed.