2012 Torchbearer Recipients
Lauren Charles is an audiology major from Brentwood, Tennessee. She is described as a “leader among leaders.” She has been a dedicated leader for the Student Alumni Associates and played a critical role as the co-chair of a national conference for similar student organizations. She is active in Panhellenic and serves as an executive officer in Delta Delta Delta sorority. She is a member of Mortar Board and the Chancellor’s Honors Program and chair of the All Campus Events programming committee. Born with a mild to moderate hearing loss, Lauren plans to pursue a doctorate in audiology to work with patients facing similar challenges and to help improve their quality of life.
Aeron Glover is a senior in industrial engineering from Memphis and a member of the inaugural class of Haslam Scholars. He is a resident assistant in the College of Business’s Venture learning community. On the weekends, he is a “big brother” to area children. He has studied abroad in Spain and China and represented the university on a broader scale through winning a national MTV-sponsored business competition. The entrepreneurial idea he conceived with a business partner, also a UT student, is now a new company in UT’s Business Incubator. He has interned with Google, Exxon-Mobil, and FedEx and completed a summer management program at Harvard Business School. Glover’s charismatic leadership and humility are just part of what makes him special.
Chelsea Knotts, a senior from Ripley, West Virginia, is finishing her degree in cellular and molecular biology. She is a member of the inaugural Haslam Scholars Program, the sole endorsed candidate for the Rhodes Scholarship, a Robert C. Byrd and National Merit Scholarship recipient, and a member of the Lady Vols track and field team. Perhaps most noteworthy is her leadership of the recent Haslam Scholars Program’s community service project. Knotts led hundreds of UT students in an effort to raise funds to end chronic homelessness, particularly in the Fort Sanders neighborhood. She began a running group for homeless men and women, organized a 5K benefit run, and regularly befriends people who are without shelter and stability. She possesses a level of empathy and determination rarely seen.
Drew Shapiro is a senior in history from Germantown, Tennessee. He has served as an executive officer in his fraternity and the Interfraternity Council and as a member of the Knoxville mayor’s Student Advisory Board. He is committed to helping others through mission trips and locally at the Love Kitchen and Habitat for Humanity. As the SGA student services director, Shapiro recognized the need to address student safety concerns and, as part of a broader restructuring, is developing a committee to focus more on campus safety issues. His commitment to service and leadership has not hindered his academic performance. He has pursued a rigorous curriculum combining science, history, and business to prepare for medical school.
Courtney Vick, a journalism and electronic media major from Lebanon, Tennessee, has served the Volunteer community through her work with SGA, as president of Mortar Board, as a Panhellenic executive council member, and with the Volunteer Channel Network. In her work with TeamVOLS, Vick serves as corporate event and development chair for Dance Marathon. In this role, she goes into the community to request sponsorships that support Dance Marathon and Children’s Hospital. She visits businesses at least once a week seeking support of Dance Marathon. She will continue representing UT as a member of Teach for America next year.
Mark Walker, a nuclear engineering major from Oak Ridge, is a scientist, a talented musician and a dedicated leader who cares about his community and the world around him. Walker has been a research assistant at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and completed an internship at the US Department of Energy in Washington, DC. In 2011, Walker was one of only about 300 students nationally to be named a prestigious Goldwater Scholar. He works in leadership roles with engineering organizations to help recruit students into the field and organized and moderated panels to broaden understanding of issues related to global nuclear security. He is an accomplished pianist and cellist and a member of the Knoxville Opera Board. In his spare time, he travels to Washington to advocate for Middle East peace initiatives.
Jayanni Webster is a College Scholars student from Memphis. Webster is a first-generation college student who has been a summa cum laude student for her entire undergraduate career. She served as an Ignite team leader and a member of the provost’s Student Advisory Committee. Last year, she was selected to participate in PBS’s fiftieth-anniversary reenactment of the 1961 Freedom Rides. She accepted this honor with humility and grace and returned to campus with great excitement about sharing her experience and its value with others. It has been said of her that “all of us on campus are richer because she is here.”
The Torchbearer is the highest honor the university gives to its students. The Torchbearer is awarded to seniors who have served their Alma Mater with overall excellence. Recognition as a Torchbearer reminds all students that those who bear the Torch of Enlightenment shadow themselves to give light to others.