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Undergraduate Research & Fellowships Celebrates UK Scholarship Finalists 

The University of Tennessee and Undergraduate Research & Fellowships announces three students were named finalists for prestigious awards to pursue graduate studies in the United Kingdom. Rachel Stewart was a finalist for both the Marshall and Rhodes scholarships, Diba Seddighi a finalist for the Marshall Scholarship, and Jacob Alrock a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship. 

Rachel Stewart, a 2022 Haslam Leadership Scholar and 2022 Truman Scholar, is an environmental sociology major and minoring in nuclear decommissioning and environmental management. On campus, she has served as president of Students Promoting Environmental Action in Knoxville (SPEAK) and interned with the Office of Sustainability. In the spring of 2021, she was recognized with the Student Environmental Leadership Award, and her organization, the UT Compost Coalition, received the award for outstanding student organization. After graduation, Rachel plans on pursuing a master’s degree in health physics with a nuclear nonproliferation concentration. She hopes to work with the US Department of Energy as a health physicist, prioritizing community-engaged research and partnerships to help ensure that Indigenous and other marginalized communities benefit from scientific advances in radioactive waste management and nuclear weapons nonproliferation.  

Diba Seddighi, a 2022 grad, self-designed her degree, Global Health Equity, which examines issues of global health equity especially as they pertain to immigrant population, and minored in Spanish. A College Scholar, Diba is currently an NIH Post-Baccalaureate Fellow investigating sickle cell disease and equitable gene therapy. While a volunteer at Youth Hope, she developed strategies to address opioid use disorder in Knoxville. She also volunteered at Remote Area Medical, Centro Hispano, Bridge Refugee Services, and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. Diba plans to pursue a master’s degree in Global Public Health and then a medical degree. She hopes to work as a physician in a low-resource setting, delivering accessible care through a career with the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.  

Jacob AlrockJacob Alrock, majoring in voice and minoring in German studies, is a Haslam Leadership Scholar, president of VolOpera, and board member of Knoxville Opera. Jacob’s work demonstrates a commitment to social justice and the inclusion of LGBTQ+ communities in the world of opera and performing arts, as audience members, theatergoers, and performers. A firm believer in “opera anywhere,” Jacob recently wrote and directed “Mavra: A Queer Opera” at the South Press Coffee House in partnership with UT’s Pride Center. Jacob plans to pursue a master’s degree in vocal performance and then a career in opera direction, administration, and performance in order to promote accessible opera. 

The Marshall Scholarship
The Marshall Scholarship was created to strengthen the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom and enhance scholars’ intellectual and personal growth as they pursue graduate degrees in the UK. Three UT students have been named Marshall Scholars since 1953. 

The Rhodes Scholarship
The Rhodes Scholarship supports a post-graduate degree at the University of Oxford. Scholars are chosen not only for their outstanding scholarly achievements but also for their character, commitment to others and to the common good, and leadership potential. Nine UT students have been named Rhodes Scholars since it was established in 1903.