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2017 Haslam Scholar Finalists Announced

The Haslam Scholars Program will welcome 30 finalists to campus March 3rd and 4th for the annual Haslam Scholars Selection Weekend. Chosen from over 300 applicants, these 30 students were selected from the 60 semi-finalists invited to regional interviews in January. Haslam Scholar finalists are chosen for their academic promise, community-oriented outlook, and strong character. During their weekend on campus, each finalist will participate in interviews by a selection committee composed of UT faculty and program administration, explore UT’s campus, learn what it means to be a Haslam Scholar, and avail themselves as a potential member of the 2017 cohort. A brief bio of each student can be found below.

A brief bio of each student can be found below.

Luke Bowles

Archbishop Moeller High School
Cincinnati, OH
Finance & Accounting

Luke Bowles has recorded over 400 hours of community service throughout high school by volunteering for the Down Syndrome Association of Cincinnati, Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen, his school’s Big Brothers Program, and a local gender equality panel. He has also focused on developing his leadership capacity through his positions as Senior House Captain, Business and Finance Club President, Admissions Team Representative, and Volleyball Team Captain. Academically, Luke ranks third in his class. He is a member of the National Honor Society, National Latin Honor Society, and he is an AP Scholar with Honor. Luke spends his free time working at Wetherington Golf & Country Club and HoneyBaked Ham Company. All in all, Luke is a driven student leader who is excited to use his business degree from the University of Tennessee as a springboard to make a difference in the community and the world.

Allison Campbell

Bearden High School
Knoxville, TN
Pre-Medicine, Materials Science, & Biomedical Engineering

Allison Campbell aspires to be a pediatric neurosurgeon with a background in Material Science and Engineering. She plans to use this specialized education to impact lives through both research and the operating room. Allison has volunteered in a variety of activities to benefit East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House such as establishing an annual supply drive for Children’s Hospital, designing an activity booklet for young patients, and refurbishing the neurosurgery waiting room for children. She remains a proud ambassador for children’s hospital representing the neurosurgery program. At her school, Allison serves as President of the National Honor Society and on the executive board of the Key Club. She attended the Governor’s School for Science and Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is also a recipient of the Girl Scout Gold Award. Her current research focuses on improving the treatment of hydrocephalus, or fluid on the brain, both in the United States and overseas. Because of her own experience, she is dedicated to advocacy for children with neurological conditions and other invisible disabilities.

Leeah Caple

Myers Park High School
Charlotte, NC
Animal Science

Leeah gained a desire to go above and beyond from years of competing with her older brother, Konnor. Her love of sports and a desire to prove doubters wrong led Leeah to become the first female sports editor of The Hoofprint, the school newspaper. She has not only excelled in the classroom but also on the volleyball court as a 4-year varsity athlete, voted MVP by her teammates. Having a banker as a mom taught Leeah financial literacy and the importance of saving which in turn gave her the motivation to work hard. Since she was 12, Leeah has taken care of kids, pets, and plants; you name it. During her senior year, she decided to become a server at 1900 Mexican Grill to save money, improve her Spanish skills, and increase global awareness by surrounding herself with people from Mexico, Spain, Honduras, and Colombia. Due to her immeasurable love for animals and travel, Leeah plans to study Animal Science and possibly Spanish or Business to make her dream of developing spay and neuter clinics in developing countries, a reality.

Cathy Charles

Webb School of Knoxville
Knoxville, TN
Biological Sciences

Cathy Charles is a curious and enthusiastic student who balances her academics with a variety of activities in her school and community. She is a National Merit Semifinalist and a member of the Cum Laude Society. She co-captained the Webb School field hockey team and plays flute in the school band. Cathy also serves as a peer advisor and as the vice president of the Student Government Association. After volunteering at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital for three summers, Cathy has been inspired to find solutions to the addiction epidemic in Tennessee through a career in healthcare. When not studying or planning her next travel adventure, she enjoys taking her dog, Toby, for walks and exploring her Indian heritage.

Isabella Cornea

Girls Preparatory School
Signal Mountain, TN
Biological Sciences & Pre-Medicine

An avid gardener and cat lover, Isabella Cornea is a senior at Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her academic honors include participation in Tennessee’s Governor’s School for International Studies, recurring recognition on the Headmaster’s List, and being a National Merit Semifinalist. Isabella is a regular participant in Amnesty International, the Junior Engineering Technical Society (JETS) Club, Model United Nations, and the theater program. Through theater, Isabella works as a tech in school assemblies and as a stage manager during both the fall play and the spring musical. She also serves as a tutor for the National Honor Society and as the Secretary of Organization in her school’s chapter of Amnesty International. Isabella’s latest endeavor is to assist service organizations in her community by putting together a “2-Hour Generator,” which would help generate solutions to the organizations’ business issues while building mutually beneficial relationships with the students. She is also looking forward to the upcoming TEAMS competition, a JETS program.

Michaila Cornwell

Cookeville High School
Cookeville, TN
Political Science

Michaila self-identifies as a “feminist, activist, and awkward dance enthusiast following in Michelle Obama’s footsteps.” She loves photography, LGBTQ history, foreign languages, and Barack and Joe memes. Her love for government solidified while attending Tennessee’s Governor’s School for the Humanities. Her career plans center around political service and social justice, specifically in grassroots activism and being a progressive voice in the Senate. Serving as President of International Cultures Club, which she co-founded, the IB Ambassadors, and other academic and service clubs, Michaila enjoys investing in her school and community and looks forward to continuing these efforts on a college campus.

Jenna Demeter

Springfield High School
Springfield, OH

Jenna Demeter is both an analytical thinker and an imaginative artist. She perceives human purpose to be service through awareness, inquiry, and intentional action; thus, she consistently embraces challenges and mistakes that foster personal evolution. Participating in the International Baccalaureate Program developed Jenna’s passion for critical engagement in relevant topics. Her immersion in the IB community has given her appreciation for diversity and the space to develop uniquely. In the athletic realm, she leads as a mentor to pole vaulters and the varsity tennis captain, initiating thrice-weekly tennis practices when the team lacked a formal coach. Furthermore, Jenna serves the entire student body by organizing programs as President of SADD and Vice President of Student Council. In addition to volunteering, she leads service-oriented initiatives such as the school blood drive, a neighborhood food drive, and an active National Honor Society chapter. Her most transformative service experience was increasing the financial sustainability of a camp in Nicaragua; as she planted banana trees with Nicaraguan volunteers, she also cultivated an ambition for Spanish fluency and understanding of human similitude. Jenna continually refines her lifestyle to live more responsibly, especially by being vegan, supporting ethical brands, and reducing consumption. She expresses these values through the experimental media of her artwork, which has exhibited in the Top 300 Ohio Governor’s Youth Art Exhibition. She further explored the implications of design through participation in the Design Matters! Camp at the University of Tennessee, which cemented her desire to serve through innovative means as an architect.

Michaela Faunce

Adlai E. Stevenson High School
Lincolnshire, IL

Michaela Faunce is a product of her passions, leadership roles, and volunteerism. She has maintained high academic standards throughout her years in high school, which have been illuminated by all-conference academic awards, honor roll awards, being named an Illinois State Scholar, and being named an AP Scholar with honors. For the last three years, Michaela has served as captain of her travel softball team, despite being one of the youngest on the team. She also co-founded Hats of Hope NFP during her junior year and currently serves as the Vice President and Chairman of the charity. Hats for Hope is a not-for-profit organization that provides hats to children and adults undergoing cancer treatments. In her spare time, Michaela enjoys quenching her passion for travel and exploration by visiting friends and family around the country on her lifelong mission to discover the uniqueness of every place from the touristy to the untouched.

Allison Flanary

David Crockett High School
Limestone, TN

Allison Flanary is a native of Limestone, Tennessee and a senior at David Crockett High School. She has performed in school theater productions, holds leadership roles in several clubs, and served as a Volunteer Girls State Supreme Court Justice. She plans to major in French and minor in secondary education.

Lily Gao

Farragut High School
Knoxville, TN
Biological Sciences

A devoted student, athlete, sister, and friend, Lily Gao has a profound appreciation for learning, nature, and insightful puns. In addition to pursuing academic excellence, she has been a dedicated leader for her school’s Science Club and Mu Alpha Theta chapter (Math Honor Society). She helps foster a love of learning in her community by organizing afterschool math tutoring sessions as well as hosting math competitions for local elementary and middle school students. Her high school experience has been enriched with diverse perspectives from participating in Volunteer Girls State and UTMCK’s Medical Explorations Program. She is an aspiring physician-researcher with an interest in computational medicine. Lily hopes to balance clinical practice with her pursuits in academic medicine.

Hamilton Garber

Montgomery Bell Academy
Nashville, TN

Hamilton Garber is a gentleman, scholar, athlete, and artist who attends Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tennessee. He serves the Nashville community as a head teacher for a weekly English tutoring program for immigrants. Academically, he has sought further knowledge by attending the 2016 National Academy of Future Physicians and by studying the Spanish language abroad in Seville, Spain. Hamilton has used his proficiency in the Spanish language to serve others by participating in mission trips to the Dominican Republic and Honduras. For his excellence in football as an offensive lineman, he was named to his division’s All-Region, All-Midstate, and All-State teams. As a musician, Hamilton is proficient in the trumpet, first chair in his school’s chamber orchestra. In his free time, he enjoys writing poetry in both English and Spanish, big-band dancing, and reading Science-Fiction.

Selam Getaneh

Westview High School
Martin, TN

Selam Getaneh, a senior at Westview High School, is described by many to be kind, intellectually curious, and passionately driven. At her high school, she has taken on many leadership positions, including Science Club President, HOSA Vice President, and Interact Club Vice President. Among her accomplishments, she includes All-West Tennessee honors for her success in cross country, awards in HOSA regional and state competitions, and Valedictorian of her class. After attending Governor’s School for the Sciences and Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Selam decided that she wanted to major in physics to learn more about nature at the most fundamental level. She intends to become a physics professor and hopes to explain the finer details of our universe to students in a way that is captivating and inspiring. In her spare time, Selam enjoys running with her cross country team, indulging in books, volunteering at the nursing home, and watching TED Talks.

Emma Kate Hall

Lebanon High School
Lebanon, TN

Emma Kate Hall is a senior at Lebanon High School in Lebanon, Tennessee. She is a National Merit Commended Scholar, and she will graduate in the top 10% of her class with Honors and Distinction. She is currently the President of her student council’s Executive Board and Vice President of her HOSA chapter. Her contributions to student council led them to become Lebanon High School’s first Four Star Council in nearly a decade. Beyond the classroom, Emma Kate serves her community as a sign language interpreter and enjoys everything related to Harry Potter and musical theater. She intends to become an OB/GYN, and she aspires to open clinics in less developed countries to decrease infant mortality rates across the globe. She is eager to begin her life in Knoxville so she can broaden her horizons and experience all the world has to offer.

Ameena Iqbal

Farragut High School
Knoxville, TN
Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology

Ameena Iqbal is a senior at Farragut High School, where she serves the Student Government Association as Treasurer of the senior class. Ameena is an active member of the Science Club and traveled to Wisconsin last year to participate in the National Science Olympiad competition. Last summer, she performed research with a graduate student and a professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville on the interactions of microbes found in Tennessee’s soil which could lead to improvements in crop health. As Vice President of the French Honors Society, she has organized French culture events and received three medals for the National French Exam. In her free time, Ameena enjoys playing the piano and serving her community by volunteering at East TN Children’s Hospital.

Keyon Kazempour

University School of Jackson
Jackson, TN
Pre-Medicine & Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology

Keyon Kazempour enjoys sharing his Persian culture with his teachers and classmates. He is a huge fan of his mother’s cooking and hopes to one day rival her in the kitchen. When he’s not in the kitchen, Keyon spends his time developing his leadership skills, his education, and his community. Keyon is currently the captain of the varsity soccer team and served as captain of his state-champion club soccer team. Keyon is involved in all facets of life in Jackson, TN and Madison County, and boasts 500 community service hours. His most impactful community service experience was working as a counselor with Camp Wings, a camp for children who have lost a loved one and are struggling to cope. Academically, Keyon enjoys all the different branches of science, but biology is easily his favorite. Keyon finds the mysteries of the human body fascinating, and he looks forward to doing first-hand research at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Kelli Kee

Franklin High School
Franklin, TN
English, Secondary Education

Kelli Kee exemplifies the definition of a Vol for Life. She has been a Girl Scout for the past 11 years, and she has tutored for the United Way and the Gentry Foundation for two years. She is also a member of a coalition of girls raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. After attending Volunteer Girls State and witnessing a lack of female participation in the Speech and Debate club, Kelli set out to increase women’s representation, and she rose to the position of Vice President. Due to these experiences, she aspires to use her teaching career to create a new generation of confident women. She would most like to teach English or English as a Second Language (ESL) in Title I schools. While focusing on her future career in education, Kelli has also succeeded academically as a National Merit Semifinalist, a 2-time National French Contest medalist, National Honor Society member, and AP Scholar with Distinction.

Jake Lacy

Central High School
Memphis, TN

Jake Lacy sees the power and value of perspective. He does not confine himself to just one experience. He is an actor and a varsity baseball player. Jake never lets himself settle into one plan for life. In many ways, this mindset is equally invigorating and terrifying for him. There is no set path for Jake; he is the oldest grandchild and the oldest brother with no one for him to follow or emulate. While intimidating, this means he is the one who gets to illuminate the way. The possibilities for Jake are endless because there is no expectation to live up to and no shadow to live in. At this point in his life, Jake does not know what he will do or where he will go, and that excites and inspires him to uncover his real passion in the next step of his life.

Grace Neiman

Central Catholic High School
West Point, NE

Grace Neiman has dreams too big to be contained in her rural hometown of West Point, Nebraska. As President of the Cuming County Sharp Shooters rifle team, she strives for perfection and accuracy in all of her work, but she will never let a missed shot stop her. Grace shares a love for all creatures from the larger farm animals she works with to the smallest of insects. Grace is interested most in the story of humanity and plans to pursue a degree in Anthropology. As she enjoys giving back to the community that has supported her, she has logged over 100 hours of service throughout high school. Though she has always wanted to set out on her own, Grace will never forget where she comes from.

Julia Newman

Knoxville Catholic High School
Knoxville, TN

Julia Newman has worked to become an integral part of the community over the past four years through her academic, athletic, and service-based efforts. In the academic arena, Julia has been inducted into the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, and Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society. Her leadership positions have included being a representative on Student Council, Irish Ambassador, Secretary of the Spanish Honor Society, and President of the Model UN Club. Julia’s most rewarding service experience in high school occurred during the summer before her senior year, when she founded Clutches for Courage, an initiative dedicated to building the confidence of women at the YWCA Women’s Shelter in Knoxville through collecting and donating lightly used purses to the shelter’s boutique. Julia’s project collected over 200 purses for the residents of the shelter and garnered her the WATE Local Hero Award, an honor recognizing outstanding service and dedication to the community. Outside of school, she enjoys playing tennis and piano, reading, and spending time with friends. In particular, she loves traveling with family. Because of her Hispanic heritage, Julia dreams of one day working in minority health care and health care policy for vulnerable populations. While in college she plans to study political science and pursue a pre-medicine track.

Susannah Outhier

Brentwood High School
Brentwood, TN
Journalism & Electronic Media

Susannah Outhier has an ardent admiration for the written word. She loves complex syntax, intricate diction, and the occasional and appropriately placed alliteration. She spent time in high school refining her craft through her involvement in her school’s yearbook, the National English Honor Society, AP English courses, and her personal journaling. Her creative narrative was enriched by subplots comprised of photography adventures, meditative coffee dates, and vehement and vigorous discussions of movies and books. Aside from that, her secondary schooling journey also taught her the importance of a good subject. Her experience with mission work opened her eyes to the hurt living on the streets and in the inner cities, which shook and inspired her. Now she harnesses and directs her academic vigor and perfectionist persistence to attain a life as a revered journalist who uses her gift of free speech to tell the stories of the ignored. Susannah is ecstatic to continue to grow in her education and understanding of the world to make a difference as a service-driven professional.

Raj Patel

Bolton High School
Arlington, TN
Aerospace Engineering

A senior at Bolton High School, Raj Patel is a scholar, volunteer, and leader in his community. His legacy can be seen through his extracurricular activities and his leadership within them. He is the treasurer of Links of Luv, a large student-founded organization led by a small group of students who organize multiple events throughout the year to raise money for charities. Raj is the President of National Honor Society, an organization which takes service and volunteer work very seriously, and he has bolstered it to new levels. He also is the co-founder of the Bolton Renaissance, an organization that seeks to elevate school pride and spirit at Bolton. On top of this, he is a part of the school’s Knowledge Bowl team. His avid involvement in these extracurricular activities brings forth some of his best qualities, such as his sense of trustworthiness, ambition, and responsibility, while also showing his dedication to helping the community. At UT, Raj is excited to begin his journey to becoming an Aerospace Engineer and achieving his goal of getting a job at SpaceX.

Sydney Peay

Summit High School
Spring Hill, TN

Sydney Peay is a passionate student who loves to engage with her education and her community. She is hardworking, studious, and always ready to learn. Sydney is particularly interested in the sciences and plans to use her passion for chemistry to pursue pharmaceutical research. She is independent and loyal, taking a substantial role in her community by working on local art initiatives. Sydney stands up for what she believes in by leading local LGBT advocacy groups and working with other organizations. In addition to education and activism, she spends her free time working on art projects to express her creativity.

Tomas Starr

Brentwood High School
Brentwood, TN

Tomas Starr is a Senior at Brentwood High School in Brentwood, TN. He believes that the greatest achievements one can make in life are those made with and for other people. Tomas has been a part of his school’s Speech and Debate team for the past four years and is now a Captain. He has coached and guided the students on his team, so that they may succeed in what they do, as well as gain more confidence in their speaking and presentation skills. Tomas has also hosted and served as a Student Ambassador for Nashville’s Sister Cities Foreign Exchange program. He has hosted students from Germany and China, and he has a strong desire to bring diversity and cultural appreciation into every situation that he encounters. Tomas seeks to improve the lives of those around him and loves to serve. He takes joy in meeting new people and creating lasting connections.

Reece Stewart

White Station High School
Memphis, TN
Political Science

Reece Stewart is an 18-year-old from Memphis, TN. She has been a member of Girls Inc. of Memphis for eleven years and its STEM subset Eureka! for five.  She co-founded and captains her high school debate team as a Champion League debater. Reece is also the Chief Marketing Officer of the educational start-up Milestone, founded under the MIT Launch Club Program. She is a member of the AP Capstone program, and her research has been approved to be presented at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research. Reece is an aspiring author, and she has begun writing her first novel, which will be self-published on Wattpad. Most importantly, Reece is an activist. She has a passion for the law and justice, and she plans to enter law as a civil rights attorney specializing in hate crimes and discrimination or as a lawyer under the conviction integrity unit of the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Vamsi Subraveti

Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet School
Nashville, TN

Vamsi is a senior at MLK Magnet School just outside downtown Nashville. He is the captain of the boy’s cross country and track teams and is consistently ridiculed for wearing running shorts as short as this paragraph. He participates in the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt University, where he has researched how to quantify optical nonlinearity in vanadium dioxide thin films exposed to high-intensity laser light. Vamsi enjoys being able to embrace both his intellectual side as the leader of the 2016 state runner-up Science Olympiad team and his athletic side as the Metro Nashville Public School Cross-Country Meet champion. He also serves an Eagle Scout; he restored the Song Leader position within his Scout troop, Troop 55, with his admittedly subpar yet enthusiastic renditions of classic songs in troop history. In his free time, Vamsi can be found debating sports and hip-hop with his close friends or out on a trail getting in his daily mileage.

Ben Thieme

Ravenwood High School
Brentwood, TN
Mechanical Engineering

Benjamin Felix Thieme was born in Singapore during the summer of 1998 to German parents. Soon afterward his family moved to the United States, where he would spend most of his adolescence. In 2010 his family moved once again, this time to pursue an expatriate assignment in South Africa. Ben thoroughly enjoyed his time there because his family took every opportunity to travel both country and continent. After spending three years in Africa, his father’s expat assignment ended and the entire family, including Ben’s older brother and two younger sisters, moved to Tennessee, where he has lived ever since. Ben attends Ravenwood High School, where his favorite classes are Calculus and Government. He likes to spend his free time playing video games on the computer he built and hanging out with friends. Ben currently works part-time as a math tutor and babysitter, though he dreams of one day being able to work as an engineer on expat assignments in around the world.

Blake Turpin

Gibbs High School
Knoxville, TN
Civil Engineering

Blake Turpin is hardworking, self-motivated, and determined. He aspires to be a visionary and leader in his field and help as many people as possible. Blake has served over 150 hours of community service and held various leadership positions during high school. He has served as President of his school’s chapter of the National Honor Society, President of the Gibbs High School French Club, Treasurer of the Student Government Association, a member of Youth Leadership Knoxville, and an intern for a progressive State House of Representatives candidate. Because of these experiences, Blake adds a valuable perspective to all groups and would thrive in a diverse, inclusive environment.

Mason Watson

Grainger High School
Rutledge, TN
Mathematics & Computer Science

Mason Watson is a senior at Grainger High School, and he has always tried to do his best in any activity in which he participates. Mason loves to learn and actively seeks out opportunities where he can apply his knowledge to benefit others. Mason currently works at Formal Approach, where he uses his self-taught computer programming skills to develop and improve web applications. Mason also holds an internship position at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he learns about the principles of distributed systems, computer architecture, and parallel programming. Mason enjoys the work that he performs because it affords him an opportunity not only to learn but also to gain insight into the practical application of that knowledge. Mason also enjoys giving back to the community. He tutors children at his high school and Kingswood Home for Children. He also announces and operates the scoreboard for basketball games at two local schools. Mason is very passionate about volunteerism and is concerned about the citizens of his community.

Chandler Woods

Dobyns-Bennett High School
Kingsport, TN

At three years old, Chandler Woods liked to lay under the piano and fall asleep to any CD he could get his hands on. Fourteen years later, his passion for music is on display as head drum major for the Dobyns-Bennett Marching Band and as the principal saxophonist in the Dobyns-Bennett Wind Symphony. From singing in the car to performing as a soloist at Carnegie Hall, the musical arts occupy much of Chandler’s free time. While music comprises much of who Chandler is, his career pathway stems from a desire to improve the lives of patients who suffer from autoimmune diseases. Chandler has delved into the realm of rheumatic disease through personal experiences and advocacy discussions with senators and representatives on Capitol Hill. Chandler’s passions are coupled with a desire to give back to those who have invested in his future. This combination has enabled opportunities for constructive involvement in all areas of his life from the ONEKingsport Destination City Investments Committee to a philanthropy initiative that raised over $37,000 for an impoverished gypsy community in northwestern Romania. Chandler aspires to maintain a well-balanced college experience, placing priority on a rigorous academic course load, extracurricular involvement, and service opportunities.

Jerry Zhou

Farragut High School
Knoxville, TN
Biomedical Engineering

Born in Knoxville, TN but raised with Chinese values, Jerry is an odd conglomeration of passions ranging from medicine to cello to hockey. At Farragut High School, Jerry has served as President of the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), President of Science Club, and State Secretary of Mu Alpha Theta (MAO). Through each organization, Jerry has competed avidly, placing 1st at the HOSA State Leadership Conference, 8th at the MAO National Convention, and 4th at the International Science Olympiad Tournament. As a cellist, Jerry has performed alongside the Moscow Ballet as an international ambassador, serves as Principal Cellist of the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra, and enjoys performing in various nursing homes across Tennessee. Jerry is also an athlete, serving as Captain of the Farragut tennis team and defenseman for the Knoxville Junior Ice Bears. Although he is excited for many eye-opening college experiences which may influence his ambitions, Jerry currently hopes to develop new bioimaging technologies to better understand neurodegenerative diseases on his path to becoming a neurosurgeon.