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HSP Spring 2017 E-Newsletter

The Haslam Scholars Program is glad to share its spring newsletter for the 2016-2017 year. Explore to discover the accomplishments of Haslam Scholars, student perspectives on core aspects of the program, and the story of an HSP alumni. We welcome you to share our progress with friends, family, and supporters of the Honors & Scholars Programs at the University of Tennessee.

What’s inside:

  1. Haslam Scholars Reach New Heights
  2. Haslam Scholars and Alumni Receive National Scholarships and Fellowships
  3. Congratulating Our Scholars
  4. HSP Retreat
  5. Making a Difference in the Community
  6. Alumni Spotlight: Aeron Glover 

HSP Alumni Spotlight: Aeron Glover

By Kevin Webster, HSP program coordinator

“One of the best decisions of my life,” Aeron Glover said of his HSP experience at University of Tennessee. An alumnus of the 2008 Cohort and a 2012 Torchbearer, Glover highlighted the encouraging members of his cohort, supportive faculty and staff, and a plethora of opportunities as essential components of his personal and professional growth and development at UT.

Glover majored in industrial engineering and capitalized on his passion for startups and entrepreneurship as a member of the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in UT’s Haslam College of Business. Glover speaks to the values of the HSP pillars of integrity and diversity in reflecting on how his cohort influenced his current success:

“I was exposed to people from a lot of different backgrounds, and it really helped me discover how to communicate and influence people who are different than me.”

Glover’s time at UT was one of critical experiences and influential people. He interned at ExxonMobil and twice at Google—once after his junior year and once after his senior year. He also participated in summer programs at Harvard University and Tsinghua University in China. His passion for business led him to write his thesis on viral content and the college market of the websites and, with advisement from Lee Martin, a professor in industrial and systems engineering and director of the Engineering Entrepreneurship program.

According to Glover, Martin was a great mentor who helped him with managing life and finding balance. Working on those areas while starting and managing a company is extremely important. Glover also attributes his success to former director of Honors and Scholars Programs Steve Dandaneau, who believed in his potential. “I was at a point in my life where I had a very narrow focus on what I wanted. I wanted to be involved in startup space, grow something, and manage it from end to end,” he said.

Glover currently works as a program manager at Google, where he manages an operations team that works on advertising products for some of Google’s most reputable clients. “Ninety percent of my team is located in India, and it really challenges me to be a more effective communicator. It is super important to understand how to identify and work with cultures and personalities separate from my own.”

According to Glover, his time in the Haslam Scholars Program took him out of his comfort zone, which prepared him for the type of communication he does today.

Interestingly, Glover’s passion for entrepreneurship did not begin at UT. As a high school student in Memphis, he started a business selling candy. As his business grew larger, he hired his first employees, opened concession stands at different schools, and eventually expanded to sporting events. Glover says his proclivity for entrepreneurship is a natural part of who he is. It was no surprise then that he and one of his colleagues, during their junior year at UT, were the recipients of a $25,000 award from a national business competition to begin a startup to help college students learn more about student housing around the world. Glover said that a study abroad trip to Spain, which required him to live with a host family, sparked the idea and that the culture and daily living experience there made a lasting impression on him: “I think the best ideas come from the most basic concerns in a person’s life. It does not have to be transformative to be impactful. As long as there are marginal improvements in your awareness, you can develop a smart idea.”

Soon after graduation, Glover attended the Startup Institute in Boston to cultivate his skills and harness his talents in the startup industry and tech field. He also accepted a job with one of the largest tech companies in the world: Google.

Exposure is a concept that is personally meaningful to Glover and one which he desires to pay forward. He met a lot of people at UT with entrepreneurial experience, which solidified his confidence and understanding of his passion. He is looking forward to spending more of his spare time in New York teaching middle school students about technology, 3-D printing, and coding for an outreach program called Code Next. “I think exposure is so important in the early stages of someone’s life. Especially during adolescence,” he said.

Glover reflects that, to him, being a Haslam Scholar means “being comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time.

There were times during my experience when I felt that I did not have the perspective or the background to analyze a certain text or piece of literature as well as some of my peers. In those situations, I had to learn to be comfortable with understanding that I had a lot of space to grow. Being in HSP really taught me how to be open to being uncomfortable, while exposing myself to different academic, social, and professional environments.” He encourages current and future scholars to maintain that sense of vulnerability while enrolled in the program: “Never stop thinking about and pursuing what you love. Understand that there will be times when you’re not doing or experiencing the things that you love. It can make you un- comfortable, so you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable— but do not accept that as your end state. If there is a place you see yourself and you have a vision, keep striving for that.”

Making a Difference in the Community

By David Marsh, junior HSP student in mechanical engineering, 2014 Cohort

The Haslam Scholars Program is founded on four pillars: integrity, diversity, social justice, and social responsibility. These pillars construct a program dedicated to shaping scholars into socially conscious thinkers and, more importantly, doers. I quickly discovered that the critical social lessons taught in my Haslam Scholars courses would have more of an impact on my life than the physics taught in my engineering program. Social consciousness is merely a fruitless thought exercise without action, so serving Pond Gap and Inskip Elementary Schools is a vital knowledge integration experience for Haslam Scholars.

During my first year of service at Pond Gap Elementary, I immediately observed a lack of STEM education and experiences. I wanted to help introduce these young students to a new world of possibilities through engineering and learn more about the specific challenges students face when considering futures in STEM. I proposed a Lego Robotics Club, hoping that it could be the entry point to engineering for these elementary-aged students. Admittedly, prior to the Lego Robotics Club, I had little experience working with elementary students or Lego EV3 parts.

While I quickly learned that Lego kits were intuitive and easy to use, elementary students were somewhat of an enigma.

During my third day with the Lego Robotics Club, I remember sitting on the ground to test one of the robots. A student asked what I was doing, and sat straight down in my lap. No warning, just plopped down. No amount of education in Haslam Scholars classes or knowledge of robotics could have prepared me for that—only experience. It was clear this fourth-grade student needed companionship, so I shifted him to the side of one of my legs, and I continued helping the other students test the robot. After this experience, I became less concerned about the students’ knowledge of robotics and more conscious about supporting their development and confidence in their problem-solving abilities and their beliefs so they can pursue careers in engineering. Lego robotics just happens to be a fun way to instill this confidence.

The most rewarding aspect of leading a Lego robotics club is paying forward a significant experience that greatly influenced my own engineering dreams.

I owe much of my engineering interests, abilities, and skills to membership in my middle- and high school’s robotics clubs. Through my service with the Haslam Scholars, I can introduce one of my major passions to elementary-aged students. I have developed a commitment to creating opportunities for those in under-resourced communities who are less likely to be exposed to an engineering curriculum. For students, the Lego Robotics Club fosters a positive experience with building, designing, and programming each week. For the volunteers and me, facilitating the club allows us to gain glimpses of how social institutions construct disadvantages. Although many of these students have lived through hardships that I have not, Lego robotics shows that they are as eager as anyone to learn about engineering.

My last duty to Pond Gap Elementary is ensuring the Lego club is sustainable and continues to inspire the next generation of future engineers. Next semester, I will start training my replacement as I approach my graduation from UT. As I move forward in my career, I will look back on my time with the Lego Robotics Club and continue to search for opportunities to serve my community by sharing my passion in engineering.

HSP Retreat

By Emily Diehl, sophomore HSP student in industrial engineering, 2015 Cohort

Every year, the Haslam Scholars Program Retreat offers a time for relaxation and bonding for the scholars, staff, and friends of the program. As a sophomore, I have already completed the program’s three-semester course sequence and graduated from the Haslam Scholars living and learning community. However, with additional and more intentional study this year, it has been more difficult to keep in touch. The annual retreat and bus ride to the Clyde Austin 4-H Center Lodge in Greeneville, Tennessee, gave me the opportunity to reconnect, network with other scholars, and find out how their semesters were going. The time spent reconnecting means a lot to me because the cohort model of the program is one of the major aspects that drew me to the Haslam Scholars Program.

I love being surrounded by so many students whose lofty ambitions encourage me to excel simply by being around them.

When we arrived at the 4-H Center, we gathered for dinner and soon began HSP’s annual tradition: cohort trivia. If you have never seen the students of the Haslam Scholars Program play trivia, you should. It rivals Volunteer football games in terms of competitiveness and overall intensity. There are heated debates, students sprinting to our associate director, Dr. Turner, to hand in answers, and enthusiastic cheers accompanied by disappointed moans when the answers are finally revealed. It is an exciting and exhausting event. This year, the 2014 Cohort was crowned the winner and awarded the coveted trivia trophy.
The retreat gave us time to relax and spend time with members of other cohorts while roasting marshmallows for s’mores, playing basketball or football, or simply watching other scholars show off their “skills.” Throughout the evening, there were sounds of laughter, the crackling of a fire, and a general release of tension—which was much needed and well deserved at this point in the semester.

The following days were filled with both enlightening and entertaining activities. An integral experience at the retreat is exploring of the core pillars of our program. This year we participated in a poverty simulation led by Clint Cummings, a staff member at the UT Institute of Agriculture. The purpose of the simulation was to help us expand our understanding of the effects of poverty on families. During the simulation, we were each assigned a role as a community member in a town where the primary employer went bankrupt. We then simulated what three years of our lives would be like without the job security we had previously experienced.

For me, the simulation was one of the most powerful parts of the weekend.

It made me more aware of the lives, circumstances, and experiences of some of the families and communities with whom we partner in the Knoxville area. The experiences that we shared and the knowledge that we gained during the poverty simulation reminded us of our obligation to pursue opportunities for positive change within our communities even after we leave UT.

The retreat also included seminars led by UT faculty and staff. This year’s seminars were different than I expected but will be extremely useful in my professional development. I enjoyed lectures by professors on topics not typically taught at UT, such as “How to Start a Record Collection” by Dr. Hulsey and “MMMM (Moving Mindful Meditative Mix)” by Dr. Cantin. These informal and unconventional lectures allowed me to explore topics that I typically would be unable to study because of my major courses.

One of the more intimidating aspects of the Haslam Scholars Program is the high expectation for each of us to achieve great things during and after our time at the University of Tennessee. The seminars reminded us of the humanity of the scholars and professors we admire and helped us realize that we could become like them after graduation. This humanity not only enables us to connect on a personal level but also helps us develop our professional relationship skills.

The opportunity to speak with the lecturers about their passions and interests in a less formal environment allowed us to learn about our own value and gain the confidence to approach professors in the future.

The retreat gave us the opportunity to extend our learning outside of topics typically discussed in the classroom and a time to recuperate and reinvigorate ourselves for the second half of the semester. It reminded us of the values and ambitions of the program in a setting where we are surrounded by a group of scholars with the same standards of excellence and grand ambitions.

Our final day at the retreat came faster than expected as we found ourselves packing up and boarding the bus on an overcast day. Many of us reflected on the value of creating a community through shared interactions, which is one of the most important aspects of our program.

Congratulating Our Scholars

Louis Varriano being named a Torchbearer by Vice Chancellor for Student Life, Vincent Carilli

Each year, current scholars and alumni of the Haslam Scholars Program receive numerous awards to recognize their outstanding academic, leadership, and service achievements. This year one scholar, Louis Varriano (2013 Cohort), received the university’s highest student honor, the Torchbearer award. Join us in congratulating Louis and all of the scholars on their hard work and great accomplishments.


Blake Palles

Chancellor’s Award for Extraordinary Professional Promise


Emma Hollmann

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

Kenna Rewcastle

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship


Sahba Seddighi

Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Elizabeth Stanfield

National Panhellenic Council President’s Choice Award


Alex Brito

Chancellor’s Award for Extraordinary Campus Leadership and Service

Top Graduate in College Scholars Program

Fulbright semifinalist

Esther Choo

Fulbright Open Study/Research Award to South Korea

Abby Durick

Chancellor’s Award for Extraordinary Academic Achievement

Chancellor’s Award for Extraordinary Professional Promise

Ian Francis

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

Trinity Studentship in Mathematics at Cambridge University

Bryson Lype

John W. Green Scholarship at UT College of Law

Patrick McKenzie

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

Caitlin Pinkard

Seaton Fellowship at UT Haslam College of Business

Colleen Ryan

Fulbright Postgraduate Award to the United Kingdom

Louis Varriano


Chancellor’s Award for Undergraduate Researcher of the Year

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship


Kimberly Bress

Barry Goldwater Scholarship

Hera Jay Brown

Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Scholarship, national finalist

Internship with Middle East Collective magazine

Alex Crockett

Truman Scholarship, national finalist

Elle Johnson

Internship with Cancer Council, New South Wales, Australia

David Marsh

Research Associate at Space Hardware/Robotics Academy at Marshall Space Flight Center

Internship with Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Cody Sain

Vanderbilt Undergraduate Clinical Research Internship

Minority in Health International Research Program finalist

Gus White

Internship with Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions


Ainsley Ellington

Leadership Knoxville Scholar inductee

Jack Larimer

Leadership Knoxville Scholar inductee

National Campaign for Political and Civic Engagement at Harvard University, participant

Avery Morgan

Global Leadership Scholar Internship with Member of Parliament

Mark Field and Conservative Party Association of London and Westminster

Grant Rigney

Congressional internship with Representative Jim Cooper

Julia Scott

Leadership Knoxville Scholar inductee


Oumar Souleymane-Diallo

Internship with Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Ben Cruz

Internship with Oak Ridge National Laboratory


If you have an accomplishment you’d like to see featured in the next newsletter, email Kevin Webster at or fill out the “Share Your News” form on the Honors & Scholars Programs website,

Haslam Scholars and Alumni Receive National Scholarships and Fellowships

By Colleen Ryan, senior in global studies and honors sociology, 2013 Cohort

This year, nine scholars received national scholarship and fellowship awards. These awards exemplify scholastic excellence and integrity. Two scholars received awards from the Fulbright US Student Program, five received Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation (NSF), one received the Barry S. Goldwater Scholarship, and one was named UT’s first ever Gates Cambridge Scholar.


Colleen Ryan and Esther Choo

Esther Choo, a senior in anthropology, was awarded the Fulbright Open Study/ Research Award to conduct an independent research project in Korean-American studies in collaboration with Seoul National University, Yonsei National University, and the South Korean Ministry of National Defense Agency for Killed-in-Action Recovery and Identification (MAKRI). Her proposed project will compare forensic aging methods to shed light on victims of the Korean War and future forensic programs and techniques for Asian populations.

Colleen Ryan, a senior in global studies, received the Fulbright Postgraduate Award, which provides a full tuition waiver and stipend to pursue a master’s degree in post-war recovery studies at the University of York’s Post-War Reconstruction and Development Unit. Her research will examine penal reform in post-conflict areas.


Ian Francis, Louis Varriano, and Patrick McKenzie

Ian Francis, a senior in mathematics, will attend the University of Cambridge in the UK to complete Part III of the Mathematical Tripos through the Trinity Studentship in Mathematics before returning to the United States to pursue his PhD. In 2016 Ian was the recipient of a Goldwater Scholarship, which recognizes sophomores and juniors in mathematics, sciences, and engineering.

Emma Hollmann, an HSP alumna (‘15) who studied chemical and biomolecular engineering, is currently pursuing her PhD in chemical engineering at Vanderbilt University. Emma’s research focuses on using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and high-throughput techniques to model and understand neurovascular disease.

Patrick McKenzie, a senior in ecology and evolutionary biology and mathematics, will use his fellowship to pursue doctoral studies at Columbia University in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology.  Patrick will study evolutionary genomics. Previously, he participated in the NSF-funded REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program at Harvard Forest.

Kenna Rewcastle, an HSP alumna (‘15) who studied ecotoxicology and environmental conservation, is currently in Sweden on a Fulbright award studying the impact of climate change on the food source for reindeer herds managed by the Sami indigenous people. She will return to the US to attend the University of Vermont in the fall.

Louis Varriano, a senior in honors physics, will apply his NSF Graduate Research Fellowship toward a PhD in physics at the University of Chicago. Louis began performing research in physics during his first semester at UT under Yuri Kamyshkov and has continued to work on neutron oscillations throughout his four years.


Kimberly Bress, a junior studying neuroscience and mental health, received the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, one of the most prestigious scholarships for undergraduates in the US. The scholarship was designed to encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering.


Sahba Seddighian HSP alumna (‘16) who studied neural plasticity and neurodegenerative disorders, will use her award to continue her research on Alzheimer’s disease, which she began as an undergraduate. Sahba is one of 90 students of 6,000 applicants worldwide to win the scholarship.

Haslam Scholars Reach New Heights

By Kevin Webster, HSP program coordinator

This commencement season we celebrate 15 outstanding scholars who will make significant contributions to their fields of study and their communities. The graduating seniors will attend nationally and internationally renowned graduate and professional schools, perform research, or begin the first steps in their professional careers.

Alex Brito will administer clinical trials at Duke University before attending medical school. Esther Choo will travel to South Korea on a Fulbright Award to research comparative anthropological aging methods of Koreans and Americans before pursuing a master’s degree in anthropology at New York University. Grant Currin will teach English through the North American Language and Culture Assistantship program in Spain. Abby Durick will continue her studies in the classics at Jesus College at the University of Oxford to obtain a master’s degree before beginning her doctoral research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on ceramics at the Minoan Palace of Malia in Crete, Greece. Robby Ferguson will begin his career as a software engineer in Birmingham, Alabama.

Ian Francis, a recipient of the 2017 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, will attend the University of Cambridge to pursue a master’s degree in mathematics through the Trinity Studentship in Mathematics before returning to the US for his doctoral studies. Libby Fortunato will begin her career as a chemical engineer within the Agricultural Solutions Division of FMC Corporation. Bryson Lype will pursue his JD as a John W. Green Scholar at the University of Tennessee. Patrick McKenzie, a recipient of the 2017 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, will attend Columbia University to pursue a PhD in evolutionary biology. Victoria Nelson will attend Michigan State University College of Law to pursue a joint JD/master’s degree under the Trustees Scholarship.

Caitlin Pinkard received the Seaton Fellowship to support her continued studies at the University of Tennessee where she will pursue a master’s degree in business analytics. Colleen Ryan received a Fulbright Postgraduate Award to pursue a master’s degree in post-war recovery studies at the University of York before pursuing a JD/PhD at Indiana University. Elizabeth Stanfield will build upon her internship experiences with United Campus Workers, Jobs with Justice of East Tennessee, and the Knox County Public Defender’s Office by pursuing a career as a community organizer in Tennessee. Anagha Uppal has offers to attend the University of Chicago for a master’s degree in computational social science and the University of California, Santa Barbara for a PhD in geography. Louis Varriano, a recipient of the 2017 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, will utilize his fellowship to pursue a PhD in physics at the University of Chicago.

CHP Spring 2017 E-Newsletter

The Chancellor’s Honors Program is happy to announce its spring newsletter for the 2016-2017 year. Inside you’ll find outtakes from the experiences of our current students and the wise words of our alumni. We welcome you to share our progress with friends, family, and supporters of the Honors & Scholars Programs at the University of Tennessee.

What’s inside:

  1. Alumni Spotlight – Sean Seymore, PhD & JD
  2. Undergraduate Research – Peter Cates
  3. Ready for the World – Caitlyn Moro
  4. Community Service – Matt Scott

CHP Summer Enrichment Grant

The CHP Summer Enrichment Grant Application is now open! Students may apply for funding to assist them in any academic-related summer plans: study abroad, other international travel, or research.

Students must be in good standing with the CHP to be eligible for this grant.

Deadline to apply is May 18th. Continue reading

La Vita È Bella: My Italian Journey

La Vita È Bella: My Italian Journey
By Caitlyn Marie Moro, sophomore CHP student in kinesiology

Mamma mia! Where do I begin? Studying abroad in Urbino, Italy, this past summer was by far the best decision I have made in college. The experience was truly life-changing and felt movie-like the entire time.

Urbino possesses a rich Renaissance history, with winding cobblestone streets that make you feel as if you are walking through medieval times. The walled city is in central northern Italy, and its main attraction is the Palazzo Ducale, built by Duke Federico da Montefeltro. The duke brought many painters, architects, and sculptors to the city. His palace even housed the work of the great Raffaello Sanzio (also known as Raphael), who was born in Urbino and is known for his paintings The School of Athens and The Transfiguration. Since Urbino remains under the radar for most tourists, it is easy to navigate and feels classic and homey. Continue reading

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