Celebrating our Flagship high schools and students
Every year, UT leaders head to our three local Flagship high schools to surprise a handful of students with news of their admission to the state’s flagship land-grant university. It’s a big deal for these students and their families—not just because of the opportunity to attend the state’s top public institution but also because their admission comes with a full-tuition scholarship.
More than 700 students from 38 Flagship high schools around the state are currently enrolled at UT Knoxville, including 187 first-year students. Every student who graduates from one of these high schools and is accepted to UT is automatically eligible for a four-year full-tuition scholarship.
In December, I joined our admissions team on a visit to Fulton High School, where we went into classrooms to surprise three students with an acceptance letter and scholarships. We brought balloons, shakers, and cheerleaders to welcome these students into the Big Orange Family. We more recently surprised six newly admitted students at Austin-East Magnet High School land Central.
Some of the students had given up on college altogether, and some will be the first in their family to go to college. Because of their hard work, the support of those who have championed them, and this important Flagship Scholarship program, these students are now on their way to attending UT, where they will be taught by some of the world’s foremost experts across many of our top-ranked programs.
By investing in these students’ future, we are investing in the future of Tennessee. Higher education changes lives—it can create generational change for families and impact the communities where our graduates live, work, and serve.
That’s why our responsibility to these students—and all our students—doesn’t end with admission. Our student success initiatives help ensure that they thrive on their road to graduation. Like all our students, they will be assigned a Vol Success Team to help them navigate all aspects of college life. Many of them will also receive support tailored to their needs, such as that provided by our program for first-generation students.
Through the Flagship Scholarship program we have built relationships with the teachers, counselors, and administrators at these schools as well as with the communities they serve. In October, on a visit to Memphis, I met with principals from area Flagship high schools. I heard firsthand their passion for their work, their love for their students, and their excitement about the great things their graduates will do when given the opportunity.
We support these leaders, schools, and communities by bringing our campus to them. Our faculty and staff are working with local high schools to develop writing programs, culinary courses, and partnerships with academic units like the College of Communication and Information.
We are beginning to raise funds to establish endowments that will make sure Flagship students continue to have opportunities to thrive at UT, and we hope to expand on existing programs by finding new ways to connect with communities.
There has never been a better time to be a Volunteer, and I cannot wait to see the students we surprised this year on campus in the fall. I know they’re going to do great things here at UT Knoxville and beyond.