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2014 Haslam Finalists Announced

We are delighted to announce the 2014 Haslam Scholar Finalists. See below for a full list of the finalists, their interests, and a short excerpt from their personal statements.


Amany-Alshibli Amany Alshibli
Farragut High School
Knoxville, TN
Biomedical Engineering

I have completed a research project at the Environmental Carcinogenesis lab at the Dept. of Pathobiology at UTK, and will be presenting it at the TN Junior Science and Humanities Symposium on February 28th.  I also love to draw and paint, and have had a piece in the Knoxville Museum of Art Student Exhibit this year. I am currently working on my AP drawing concentration series surrounding my central theme of the loss of innocence of children living in war zones; I am inspired by an urge to speak out due to recent events in Syria– the country my parents call home.




Ruby-AuroraRuby Arora
White Station High School
Memphis, TN
International Relations

My favorite, and most defining, extracurricular has been Model UN. It transformed me from a shy and awkward freshman into a confident and not-so-awkward senior. Spearheading this team and leading it to victory at the recent MSMUN Conference fortified my skills as a leader and instilled in me an unspeakable sense of pride for my underclassmen’s success. Beyond academics, dance has been my long-lasting love. From ballet to bharatanatyam to garba, dance never ceases to amaze me, and through my rises and falls as a dancer, I continue to learn the importance of self-expression.




Kimberly BressKimberly Bress
Melbourne High School
Melbourne, FL

I serve as captain of the Future Problem Solving Team and a member of the Mu Alpha Theta Competition Math team. During the summer holiday, I worked as a research intern at a local neurofeedback clinic, learning how to operate electroencephalograph equipment. This opportunity ignited my passion for cognitive research and neurotherapy, areas of study which I will pursue as both an undergraduate and graduate student.





JoshuaBrownJosh Brown
Gibbs High School
Corryton, TN
Political Science

I am an early graduate for the class of 2014 from Gibbs High School. Most notably, my time as an ambassador to Global SEEDS Knoxville from Win Our World (WOW) Urban Ministry, my presidency for Gibbs DECA beginning in 2012, and my activism, both socially and politically, within The Young Democrats, Young Republicans, and Gay-Straight Alliance at Gibbs High School, has come to lay the foundation upon which I hope to construct a temple for academic excellence and a globalized mindset fostered by the Haslam Scholars Program at the University of Tennessee.



kevin-brownKevin Brown
Martin Luther King Magnet School
Nashville, TN
University Exploratory Track

I was born in Germany where I remained until I was five and have returned multiple times. I cannot possibly imagine being idle when the world offers so much to see and learn, and I wish that many more children would have the educational opportunities that I have had, both inside the classroom and out in the world.I also thoroughly enjoy writing poetry or just freely writing about whatever is on my mind.I pride myself on being a very dynamic character that fits into no single category.




Preston-ButlerPreston Butler
Maryville High School
Maryville, TN
Biomedical Engineering

I plan to pursue my interests in science and medicine by majoring in Biomedical Engineering next fall. In addition to academics, my main passions include music and community service. I have exemplified leadership in these areas through my roles as Drum Major of my marching band and President of both the National Honor Society and Key Club at my high school. I am also involved in Student Council and the Knoxville Jazz Youth Orchestra, and I attended the Governor’s School for International Studies in 2012. In addition, I have worked as a private math tutor throughout my high school career.




crockettAlex Crockett
Alvin C. York Agricultural Institution
Jamestown, TN

From 4-H to Student Government, Alex has actively participated in many extracurricular activities; moreover, he went the extra mile and strove to serve as a leader in many of these clubs and programs. Most notably, Alex has served as the county, regional, and state President of Tennessee 4-H and as class President for four years. Alex has participated in many community service projects as well. In four years, Alex has founded, served, and led Students Helping Students, a program that provides needy students with toiletries and school supplies.




Dunston-croppedTyler Dunston
Chattanooga School of the Arts & Sciences
Chattanooga, TN


For as long as I can remember, I have been a voracious reader. I enjoy a wide variety of texts—from Hemingway to Hawking, from Dante to Descartes. Intellectually, I am particularly interested in literature, science, and philosophy. Outside of academics, one thing that defines me above all is my passion for art and music. My interests are what inspire me and drive me to set out to make a positive impact on the world.




Robert-Renn-EasonRenn Eason
Memphis University School
Memphis, TN

Renn is a three-sport varsity athlete lettering in Football, Basketball and Track. He is a National Honor Society member, School Ambassador and Sports writer for the school paper. Renn is an AP Scholar and Dean’s Scholar. He spends time outside of school volunteering for the Church Health Center and coaching basketball for an inner city team. His hobbies include following International Soccer and hopes to one day attend the World Cup. Renn plans to pursue a career in medical research.





Daniel-EncisoDaniel Enciso
Franklin High School
Franklin, TN
Computer Engineer

I would like to believe that I am on the path least taken: from Bogotá to Miami, from Miami to Palm Harbor, from Palm Harbor to Franklin, Tennessee. Man of God, scholar, soccer player, and Colombian-American are a few words that define who I am. I have always had a passion for exploring and embracing the diversity that surrounds me. I want to challenge my limits, because I need to know what it is beyond my knowledge, beyond my experience. My humble aspiration is to do onto others as others have done unto me: open the way for progress and success.




Savannah-FulmerSavannah Fulmer
Fred J Page High School
Franklin, TN

I have taken 12 AP classes throughout high school. I sit on the Board of Directors for United Way of Williamson County and hold executive positions in my school’s Mu Alpha Theta, National Honors Society, United Way, and DECA. I have competed with HOSA, and I have competed with DECA at the national level for two years now. I also enjoy playing volleyball, knitting, and reading. I am planning on majoring in Pre-Medicine and pursuing a career as a Dermatologist.





Geoffrey-HerveyGeoffrey Hervey
White Station High School
Memphis, TN

I am not just the student who made a 35 on the ACT, I am also the kid in red skinny jeans and a Power Rangers T-shirt who convinces his mom to watch a Power Rangers marathon. I am not just the student who makes an A in Honors Japanese, I am also the teen who reads Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic books. Beyond the accomplishments listed on an application, I desire to study and utilize the field of psychiatry to work with people and help them better themselves. From fencing to feminism, my interests run the gamut, and by embracing my fascinations, I have matured into more than just a student or a statistic, but a well-rounded individual.



Tyler-HounshellTyler Hounshell
Sevier County High School
Sevierville, TN
Electrical Engineering

My mission is to develop technologies that foster peace in countries through the means of simply understanding other cultures’ delicate, complex identities. During my studies, I have three specific goals: Intern with the International Court of Justice, Study abroad in Istanbul, and Trek the El Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James) in Spain. During my free time, I’m usually coaching an Upward Basketball team, tutoring middle school students, contributing to Youth Giving Back to Youth (My Service Initiative) or hiking the Boulevard Trail to Mt. LeConte.




Elle-JohnsonElle Johnson
Sequatchie County High School
Dunlap, TN
Chemical Engineering

I am the statewide winner of the Tennessee Electric Cooperatives Association’s Washington Youth Tour Writing Contest. Aside from school, I am a Youth Ambassador for the Tennessee Donor Services’ Donate Life Initiative and am actively involved in her family’s beef cattle farm. I also enjoy all forms of art, such as drawing, acting, and playing saxophone, and hope to study the development of new organ transplant medications and procedures.





Min-Hsuan-LinMichelle Lin
Maryville High School
Maryville, TN
Biomedical Engineering

I attended Governor’s School for Computational Physics where I unleashed not only engaged my maximum nerd level but also the prankster in me. I not only exercise my mind through academics; I also run track and field and cross country to mentally relax. My second family is my cross country team – there is no better bonding than through pain and sweat. I have worked in Dr. Brad Binder’s biology lab at UTK with wonderful graduates that have given me valuable insight into UT.






Michelle-LuMichelle Lu
Martin Luther King Magnet School
Nashville, TN
Computer Science

I am actively involved in Student Government Association as the Senior Class President and SGA Community Service Chair. I also hold the position of Science Olympiad Co-President, Science Honor Society Secretary, and Beta Club Secretary. I have had the amazing opportunity to be a part of the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt since 9th grade in which I was able to explore a wide variety of sciences and conduct research.





David-MarshDavid Marsh
Merrol Hyde Magnet School
Hendersonville, TN
Mechanical Engineer

Whether I am planning for my Boy Scout Eagle project or studying for a final, I work hard in order to achieve my objective. I am not merely content with complacently learning what a teacher puts before me; my academic curiosity compels me to continually try to discern ways to use my knowledge , and my idea of a perfect night is building a robot with my robotics team, using the math I learned in school in many cases only a few weeks before.





Robert-MarshallRobert Marshall
Gatlinburg-Pittman High School
Gatlinburg, TN
Biological Sciences

Robert Marshall coordinates his school’s peer tutoring program, conducts ecological research in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and is an alumnus of the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Sciences. He also participates in his school’s drama productions and studies music composition in his free time. Furthermore, Robert has conducted materials science research at Y-12 National Security Complex and has earned twenty-four hours college credit through dual-enrollment classes.





jeremy-mcduffleJeremy McDuffie
Houston High School
Germantown, TN

I am also a service-minded individual with a special place in my heart for children, especially at-risk youth. From coaching a middle school cross country team to counseling a summer camp for underprivileged youth who struggle with controlling their anger, I have spent thousands of hours working with children during high school. Currently, I volunteer as a mentor for Memphis Athletic Ministries, an organization that promotes the development of academic diligence and strong character in inner-city youth.




Motheramgari-croppedVishaka Motheramgari
Bearden High School
Knoxville, TN

I was a National Merit Semifinalist and recently became a finalist. I have done a lot of volunteer and shadow work at the UT Medical Center, making firm my enthusiasm for medicine. Furthermore, I have done research with a professor of microbiology at UT. I have also been involved in may leadership activities through school, like taking the leadership class, being a committee chair in the student government, and being the treasurer for our National Honor Society.





Gaby-NairGaby Nair
Hutchison School
Memphis, TN
University Exploratory Track

I am an avid runner, as I run both varsity track and cross country, and I have the honor of captaining both teams this year. I also have an original community service project that I started with a classmate my sophomore year called Thumbprint Theatre; every Wednesday we give a theatre workshop for a group of fifteen fourth and fifth graders at an underserved elementary school. The summer before my junior year, I attended the Tennessee Governor’s School for International Studies, and last summer attended the St. Albans School of Public Service




Miles-OwnbyMiles Ownby
Siegel High School
Murfreesboro, TN
Civil Engineering

With my degree, I hope to travel globally, leveraging my passion for learning with serving others. My ultimate goal is to utilize my civil engineering degree to help provide safe housing, efficient energy, and clean water in third world countries in order to help communities sustain themselves. With a certificate from VolsTeach, I hope to one day teach at the high school level and to inspire students toward learning and success. In my free time, I love reading, hiking, acting, playing guitar and piano, running, helping others, and meeting new people.




NewbyNewby Parton
Warren County High School
McMinnville, TN


A hardcore squirrel-chaser by day, Newby dreams of success as a writer. His work earned statewide recognition in June 2013 when it was published in The Tennessee Magazine. The valedictorian presides over three student organizations including a hundred-strong chapter of the National Beta Club. He has served as an actor, radio talk show host, and aide to special needs students.




Laurel-PenleyLaurel Penley

Dobbyns Bennett High School
Kingsport, TN
Political Science

The most gratifying experience I had in high school was participating in a school club called “Pay It Forward” that I co-founded. My friends and I created this club to help needy kids within our own school system. Helping people gives me a sense of happiness that actually exceeds my own accomplishments. I look forward to giving back and enjoying the little things in life that that make me smile and forget what time it is.




Avanti RangnekarAvanti Rangnekar
Farragut High School
Knoxville, TN

I don’t think I am fundamentally qualified to have just one vocation, for my interests are too varied and my mind constantly craving action, but if I had to choose a career path, I would without hesitation choose humanitarianism.  I believe India has a lot of potential, and from someone who has lived in a highly developed United States all her life, yet whose heritage and ethnicity find origin in India; I am interested to see where my own studies and actions take me regarding these relevant issues.





Cody SainCody Sain
Humboldt High School
Humboldt, TN

I plan on studying Microbiology and completing the Pre-Medical requirements as I aspire to become an Anesthesiologist. Currently, I am the Humboldt High School student council president, H.O.S.A. vice-president, and Relay for Life team captain. I am also involved in several non-school related activities including my local 4-H club, the T.R.Y mentoring program at my local Boys and Girls club, and also working part-time at Walgreens as a Registered Pharmacy Technician.



Kevin-SunKevin Sun
Collierville High School
Collierville, TN
University Exploratory Track

My favorite subjects are math, science (mostly physics and chemistry), and economics. Because of this, I am interested in pursuing a career in electrical engineering, mathematics, or finance. I often enjoy challenging myself in my favorite fields, and as a result, I’ve joined a few school clubs like the Math Team, JETS (the engineering club), and the Knowledge Bowl Team. I am the leader of all of these clubs. I’ve won a few state and national honors, including a perfect score on the AP Microeconomics exam (one of only 33 people in the world!) and a first place award at in the calculus division at the Vestavia Hills Math Competition (the largest regional math competition in the US).



Regina-TisdaleRegina Tisdale
Martin Luther King Magnet School
Nashville, TN
Political Science

In my involvement in Girl Scouts, the importance of helping others at all times and making a difference in the world has been instilled in me. I also strive to be a voice for others and influence their lives through my school leadership roles in student government. This desire has impelled me to further my commitment to others through my career choice. I have passion, motivation, and aspiration to pursue a career as an attorney so that I can address and solve the legal issues that arise from the structural inequalities within society.




Gus-WhiteGus White
Notre Dame High School
Chattanooga, TN

My name is Gus White, and as a VFL since birth, it’s truly an honor for me to be selected as a Haslam Finalist and I look forward making an impact on the school and campus I love so much over the next few years. A few of the organizations that I am a part of and have had a particularly large influence on my life include: the Technology Student Association, Model UN, School Leadership Council, SEARCH for Christian Maturity, bible study, football (statistician) and baseball (statistician and player).





Tiannan-ZhouTianna Zhou
Hume Fogg High School
Nashville, TN
Chemical Engineering

Although science is my passion, I have a broad array of interests. In my spare time I like to follow politics, read literary fiction (my favorite authors include Jhumpa Lahiri and Oscar Wilde), go hiking at Radnor Lake, listen to indie rock, and watch old movies with friends. My more official hobbies include fencing and debate. Science appeals to me because of its clarity, objectivity, and real world implications. I hope to pursue chemical engineering in college because I enjoy applying knowledge for practical purposes.