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With plans to make their own impact on the world, 10 University of Tennessee students will take on Washington D.C. after securing internships with the United States Congress through the Congressional Internship Program (CIP). The summer program runs anywhere from six to 10 weeks during which the students work closely with legislative staff on a variety of projects. Cierra Potter and Savannah Jones

Current interns, Cierra Potter and Savannah Jones, shared their experiences living and working in D.C. through the program. “I have already gained so much knowledge about how congress really works,” Potter said. “I feel like I learn something new every day while being here, sometimes it’s about policy, sometimes it’s about politics, and sometimes I learn things just about the professional world in general.”  

Both emphasized the importance of using the career center as a resource and not being shy to “just go for it” when it comes to applying for new opportunities and expressed how much they are learning already.  

“I’m learning new things every day and meeting so many new people,” Jones said. “Every day is different. I answer constituent calls, make callbacks, draft communications, give tours of the capital, attend briefings, do research for the legislative assistants, and meet with visitors who come to the office.” 

The Congressional Internship Program gives students from all majors with an interest in government, public policy, and Capitol Hill careers the opportunity to see the inner workings of Capitol Hill.  

“We’ve had students from nearly all of UT’s colleges participate in the CIP over the years and find value in the experience,” Stephanie Kit, executive director of the Center for Career Development & Academic Exploration, said. “The CIP provides a great opportunity for students to experience a congressional office firsthand and explore their career goals. One of the most valuable takeaways from the experience is building a network of contacts that can help with future career plans.” 

The summer 2022 Congressional Internship Program interns and the offices where they are working:  

  • Meredith Bailey: Class of ’23, majoring in political science, Congresswoman Harashbarger 
  • Robert Fieldan Bowman: Class of ’24, majoring in finance, Congressman Burchett 
  • Garrett Everett: Class of ’23, majoring in political science, Congressman Burchett 
  • Savannah Jones: Class of ’23, majoring in agricultural economics, Congressman Desjarlais 
  • Abigail Lawrence: Class of ’23, majoring in geography, Congressman Burchett 
  • Cierra Potter: Class of ’23, majoring in psychology, Congressman Desjarlais 
  • Shrujana Senthil: Class of ’24, majoring in political science, Congressman Cohen 
  • Sarah Sexton: Class of ’23, majoring in English, Congressman Rose 
  • Noah Smith: Class of ’23, majoring in supply chain management, Senator Hagerty 
  • Catelyn Williams: Class of ’22, majoring in political science, Congressman Cohen 

Students can learn more about the Congressional Internship Program and how to apply through the Center for Career Development & Academic Exploration. Members of the CIP committee interview selected applicants. If chosen for the program, students must apply to all Tennessee congressional offices they wish to intern with. Once their offer and internship are secured, they will receive funding from the career center to offset the costs of living in Washington D.C.  


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The Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement (EURēCA), led by Undergraduate Research & Fellowships in the Division of Student Success, took place on April 25, 2022.

This year’s event was hosted in UT’s Student Union with 997 students showing 654 projects from a wide range of disciplines and methodologies. On May 2 during a closing awards ceremony, participating colleges presented a total of 91 awards for excellence in undergraduate research and creative achievement.

Senior Ashlyn Anderson is a Haslam Scholar, Torchbearer, Fulbright recipient, and UT representative at the Posters at the Capitol research event. She said, “EURēCA has offered a world of opportunity to showcase my research, connect with other passionate peers, and recognize the importance of undergraduate research. It has given me a platform upon which I have strengthened my presentation and poster creation skills, all while being scaffolded by faculty and staff.”

In addition, the 2022 Faculty Research Mentor Award Winners, sponsored by URF, were announced. This award recognizes UT faculty who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to mentoring undergraduate researchers. At least two undergraduate students must nominate them, with at least one having participated in the recent EURēCA.

Laura Russo, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and recipient of a Faculty Research Mentor award in the natural sciences, said EURēCA was a great opportunity for her students to prepare and present their research projects. “For many of them, it is their first presentation, and they are very nervous, but they learn a lot from the process and enjoy seeing the other research projects that are ongoing,” she said. “This is definitely a great way for us to share our work at UTK.”

Since 1997, EURēCA has become one of UT’s premier undergraduate research events and is an annual spring event that showcases research and creative activities across all disciplines by currently enrolled undergraduate students in collaboration with a faculty mentor. This year, student research was overseen by 233 faculty mentors, as well as postdocs and graduate students helping to mentor undergraduates in their research groups. In addition, 150 campus and industry judges participated, and division representatives worked with Undergraduate Research & Fellowships for the entire academic year to provide this opportunity for students.

“EURēCA was new to me, but I am so excited to have been a part of it,” said Jennifer Ware, an award-winner in the humanities division, senior in Judaic Studies, and first-time EURēCA participant. “EURēCA gave me, not only the opportunity to share my current research, but an important line to add to my CV. I appreciate everyone who put in countless hours to give undergraduates the opportunity to experience a research platform that will provide skills that are necessary for those of us continuing on a path that includes research.”

UT’s Programs Abroad Office at the Center for Global Engagement recently announced this year’s recipients of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. The entire article can be read here.

Soon-to-be graduate, Tasimba Jonga, received UT’s highest student honor this spring being named a 2022 Torchbearer. Jonga has also been named a Knight-Hennessy Scholar at Stanford University where he will be a graduate student in management science and engineering. The entire article can be read here.

Following a national search, the University of Tennessee has selected Patrick Akos as the next associate vice provost for Student Success and executive director of Honors & Scholars Programs, beginning July 1. In this role, Akos will chart a bold, new vision for UT’s honors programs and will enhance and expand the university’s undergraduate research and fellowships enterprise. 

“Dr. Akos is a visionary and collaborative leader prepared to transform UT’s efforts to support our undergraduate student scholars through honors, undergraduate research, and fellowships initiatives,” Amber Williams, vice provost for Student Success, said.   

Akos and James Williams, director of Honors & Scholars Programs and associate professor in the College of Education, Health, & Human Sciences, will enhance collaborations with UT faculty to re-imagine the university honors experience through innovative pedagogy and a rigorous curriculum effective student support services. Director Williams, who has served as a faculty member in CEHHS since 2014, brings a successful record of innovating undergraduate curriculum and serving as an advocate for student scholars to his role as director of the Honors & Scholars Program. 

 “The honors experience should encourage students to dig deeper and go further with their academic interests,” Director Williams said. “I look forward to collaborating with Dr. Akos and our acclaimed faculty to enhance the honors experience for current and future Volunteers.” 

With Erin Darby, faculty director of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships and associate professor in the College of Arts & Sciences, and Andrew Seidler, director of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships, Akos will strengthen UT’s undergraduate research and fellowships initiatives by expanding access and enhancing support services. 

Akos, who will serve as a consultant to the university during the summer, expressed his enthusiasm for joining UT. “I am honored to join this vibrant community of innovative thinkers and doers and look forward to collaborating with faculty and staff to advance the success of all Volunteers.” 

Akos currently serves as a professor in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research, teaching, supervision, clinical practice, and leadership are grounded in a strengths-based framework. He examines how best to support and cultivate well-being, especially during educational and career transitions. Pending approval from UT’s Board of Trustees, Akos will continue as a full, tenured professor in the College of Education, Health, & Human Sciences. 

The search committee, which included broad faculty and staff representation and opportunities for campus partners to engage with finalists, was led by Christopher Stripling, professor and head of the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications. 

Reflecting on the comprehensive search process, John Zomchick, provost and senior vice chancellor, said, “I am grateful to the search committee and the UT community for engaging in a collaborative process that resulted in the selection of Dr. Akos.” 

A campus-wide reception will take place this fall to welcome Professor Akos to the UT community.  

Contact: Kelsey Kyne, 

First-Generation Initiatives, a key unit within Student Success, celebrated first-generation students, faculty, and staff during events held Tuesday, April 5, and Wednesday, April 6. 

The inaugural class of the newly established Alpha Alpha Alpha (Tri Alpha) Honors Society was inducted on April 5 in the Student Union Flying J Ballroom. UT’s Provost John Zomchick, a first-generation student, was the first of 166 inductees into the honors society and gave opening remarks. Zomchick accepted the charter for the new organization during the ceremony, which began with a networking reception for students and their families. 

“I am deeply honored to be inducted into Alpha Alpha Alpha and to celebrate with our first-generation students,” Provost Zomchick said. “First-generation students not only change their own lives, but they also become role models for their friends and family. The entire course of a family can change because of a first-generation student’s courageous decision to pursue higher education. We are proud to support these students on their journey.” 

“Provost Zomchick advocates and supports our programs, and we wanted to acknowledge him with inducting him as the first member,” Talisha Adams, director of First-Generation Initiatives, said. 

Associate Vice Provost for Student Success Leonard Clemons provided the keynote address. In addition to the students, eight faculty and staff members who serve on the First-Generation Advisory Council were inducted as honorary members.  

Autumn Large, a sophomore in mathematics and inductee into Tri Alpha, said she appreciates the idea of being a role model for further generations. “It is a journey of unfamiliarity, yet persistence despite the odds being somewhat against me,” Large said. “It is a reminder that I am creating my own legacy for subsequent generations of my family.” 

Following the ceremony, inductees will elect the first executive board before the semester ends and kickoff fall 2022 as a member of the society.  

The following day, April 6, the inaugural First-Generation Faculty & Staff Reception took place in the Frieson Black Cultural Center, cohosted by the Office of the Provost and First-Generation Initiatives. Approximately 40 faculty and staff attended.  

Provost Zomchick again offered remarks during the reception, especially relating to his identity as a first-generation college student and graduate. Vice Provost for Student Success Amber Williams spoke about the university’s support of first-generation students and both current and future initiatives that are dedicated to the success of those students.  

“During this week of honoring our first-generation student scholars, faculty, and staff, it was an honor to celebrate alongside them and acknowledge the unique perspectives and strengths they bring to the Volunteer community,” Williams said. “Their contributions are not only seen and felt at UT, but throughout the larger community and world.” 

First-Generation Initiatives will host the First-Generation Graduates Reception on May 9 from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. in the Student Union Pilot Flying J Ballroom.  

The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project (TCDJHP) presented the Veterans Success Center at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a $25,000 donation on Tuesday, March 22.

Board members David Corlew, co-founder of the organization and manager for theCheck receiving ceremony late Charlie Daniels, and Major General Terry “Max” Haston (retired) visited the center to meet with student veterans and attended the Tennessee vs. Butler home baseball game for a check presentation with Jayetta Rogers, director of the Veterans Success Center, and Leonard Clemons, associate vice provost for Student Success.

“Continuing education has and continues to be an important step in the reintegration of many returning veterans,” Corlew said. “Charlie had a close relationship with the University of Tennessee, so it’s our mission to support our veterans that are pursuing their educational needs. The Veterans Success Center is growing daily with Jayetta and the team, and we are proud to be of assistance in any way possible.”

The $25,000 donation will go to the creation of a Veterans Success Institute, student veteran transformational grants, a veteran emergency fund, and technology upgrades. The donation is the third and largest gift UT has received from The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project, and Rogers said she hopes it’s the beginning of a long and meaningful relationship with the organization. “Charlie Daniels was a tremendous supporter of the University of Tennessee, and we are beyond grateful to receive this gift that will enhance the academic, professional, and personal success of our student veterans while at UT.”

“Ensuring that veteran students have a solid foundation for success is the reason that The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project supports our state universities’ Veterans centers. TCDJHP believes that assisting and supporting veterans in obtaining a quality education is a critical phase line in their ‘Journey Home’,” Haston said. “We hope that by contributing to the University of Tennessee Veterans Success Center will start a habit for others to follow ensuring the center’s future.

About the UT Veterans Success Center

Established in 2017, the Veterans Success Center is uniquely qualified to enrich the transition to UT for student veterans and military-affiliated students with tailored services that enhance academic success and holistic development. The center supports more than 1,000 Vol veterans and military-affiliated spouses and children, including active duty, Army Reserve and National Guard, military families, and survivors.

About The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project
The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project (TCDJHP) is a not-for profit organization that assists other not-for-profits in securing funds to help causes that benefit veterans of the United States Armed Forces. The organization was co-founded in 2014 by the late country music legend Charlie Daniels and his manager, David Corlew. Board members include Corlew, Major General Terry “Max” Haston (retired) and most recently in 2020, Hazel Daniels. Conscious of the need to assist our nation’s veterans, TCDJHP partners with organizations that do the most good, with the least overhead. Working in tandem with these organizations, TCDJHP is making a difference in the lives of American patriots. TCDJHP’s daily operations rely solely on public donations. For more information or to donate, visit

The University of Tennessee held its inaugural Career Outcomes Summit on March 3 in the Student Union Pilot Flying J Ballroom with faculty and staff attending. The Summit was sponsored by the Division of Student Success and the Center for Career Development & Academic Exploration. 

The Summit connects faculty and staff at UT with information on students’ post-graduation outcomes to evaluate their success while at college. The data collected from the career profile enables UT to improve academic and student success initiatives that support scholars as they set and achieve their post-graduation goals, securing employment or continuing education. This strategy aligns with UT’s Strategic Vision, particularly Goal One of cultivating the Volunteer Experience. 

Vice Provost for Student Success Amber Williams welcomed attendees, emphasizing UT student scholars’ experience on campus and how they articulate their collegiate experience into career-ready dialogue.  

“Our undergraduate scholars learn and hone their academic and leadership potential inside and outside of the classroom,” Vice Provost Williams said. “Our goal is to help scholars understand how to articulate those skills and other collegiate experiences so they’re competitive in the job market or continuing education.” 

Suzie Allard, associate dean for research & director of the Center for Information & Communication Studies, attended in person and reflected on how faculty can help students highlight and develop what they are learning in the curriculum to match the “soft” skills and competencies employers are looking for. Allard said it would be like adding a superpower to the curriculum. “It is an essential part of our strategic plan to help our students find their path from our education to their careers,” Allard said. “This helps our state industries and government have the best people to fill their jobs.” 

75% of the graduating class reported an outcome, and of those who completed the survey, 88% of our bachelor’s graduates had a positive outcome. 60% of our students are employed in-state, with a $51,365 mean salary, and 68% completed an internship or similar experience.   

Post-graduation outcomes include obtaining employment, attending graduate or continuing education, performing military service, and other outcomes. The Center for Career Development & Academic Exploration utilizes multiple outlets for getting career outcomes and collects this data for up to six months after graduation. These include attending on-campus events to gather information, participating in calling campaigns, and researching online outlets such as LinkedIn for post-graduation outcomes. National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) provides career outcomes guidelines for higher education institutions on collecting and reporting post-graduation career outcomes. 

UT’s work with Gallup strengths and well-being is highlighted on the GALLUP® website with more information on the collaboration between Student Success and the strengths leader. Read the entire article here.

SCORE, a Tennessee-based team of professionals supporting student success across the state, published a blog story highlighting the UT Success Academy. The entire article can be read here.