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Emerging Leader Scholarship

The First-Generation Emerging Leader Scholarship is awarded to first-generation students for their commitment to academic excellence, scholarly achievement, leadership development. First-generation students are eligible to apply for the scholarship in the amount of $500 dollars in the spring semester. Scholarship funds will be applied to UTK student accounts in the subsequent fall semester pending enrollment verification.


The purpose of the First-Generation Emerging Leader Scholarship is to encourage academic and social engagement, as well as persistence among first-generation students.  Students eligible for this award will have pursued and met ambitious goals and demonstrated a commitment to academic excellence and campus engagement within their second and third year at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.


  • Be a first-generation student (neither parent of guardian has received a 4-year college degree);
  • Enrolled full-time at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville;
  • Attended (6) or more qualifying experiences and recorded the experiences in VOLink;
    • The 6 Qualifying experiences should be those that enhance academic, career, professional, cultural, and leadership development.  Events should be hosted by academic departments and offices on campus.
  • Demonstrated a commitment to campus engagement and an involvement in first-generation campus initiatives;
  • Must be in good judicial standing; and
  • Submit scholarship application via VOLink by April 30th annually.

*Scholarship funds will be applied to the recipient’s account after enrollment verification at the beginning of the fall semester.

Selection Process:

  • In order to receive the Emerging Leader Scholarship, students are required to log each qualifying experience in VOLink.
  • Experiences will be reviewed and approved by FGI staff.
  • After completing all six or more experiences, students should submit an application in VOLink.  Applications should be submitted no later than April 30th annually.
  • Applications will be reviewed by a scholarships and awards committee.
  • Award recipients will be notified at the end of the Spring semester once final grades have been posted. 

Qualifying Experience Descriptions

Frequently Asked Questions 

Students selected to receive the First-Generation Emerging Leader Scholarship will have their scholarship funds applied to their account the following fall semester.

No, only those experiences attended during the academic semester count.

While we recommend attending 3 events per semester, students can attend all (6) events in a single semester.

In order for experiences to count towards the Emerging Leader Scholarship they should be logged in VOLink. Qualifying experiences will be reviewed and approved by FGI staff.

If an experience that you submitted is not approved, you will receive information as to why the experience was rejected. You will have an opportunity to resubmit the experience for credit.

Each month you will receive a calendar of qualifying events from First-Generation Initiatives.  The events will include many hosted by FGI, as well as events from a variety of offices around campus. In general, qualifying events should focus on academic achievement, leadership skills, professional development,  and cultural competence (i.e., the ability to understand, appreciate, and interact with people from cultures or belief systems different from one’s own).

  • Students can demonstrate a commitment to campus engagement in some of the following ways:
    • Attending more than (6) qualifying events during the academic year;
    • Active involvement in student organizations; 
    • Holding a leadership position on campus;
    • Participating in research, service learning, or study abroad programs