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Pioneer Medallion Award

The First-Generation Pioneer Medallion is awarded to first-generation students for their commitment to academic excellence and achievement and leadership at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. 


The purpose of the Pioneer Medallion is to encourage academic, social, and campus engagement among first-generation students.  Students eligible for this award will have demonstrated a strong commitment to campus engagement. 


  • Be a first-generation student (neither parent of guardian has received a 4-year college degree or higher);
  • Enrolled full-time at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville;
  • Attended (4) qualifying programs during the academic year and recorded the experiences in VOLink;
    • The 4 Qualifying experiences should encompass experiences that enhance academic, career, professional, cultural, and leadership development.  Events should be hosted by academic departments and offices on campus.
  • Good judicial standing; and
  • Submit medallion requests through the VOLink website by April 30th annually.

Selection Process:

  • In order to receive the Pioneer Medallion, students are required to log each qualifying experience in VOLink.
  • Experiences will be reviewed and approved by FGI staff.
  • After completing all four experiences, students should submit a Medallion Request form in VOLink. Forms should be submitted no later than April 30th annually.
  • Medallion recipients will be notified in early May of the status of their request.

Qualifying Experience Descriptions

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, first-year transfer students are eligible to receive the Pioneer Medallion if they fulfill the award criteria.

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

While we recommend attending 2 events per semester, students can attend all (4) events in a single semester.

In order for experiences to count towards the Pioneer Medallion, they should be logged in VOLink. Qualifying experiences will be reviewed and approved by FGI staff.

If an experience that you submitted for your Pioneer Medallion 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 programs 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).

Upon submitting your medallion request form through VOLink, you will be notified if you have completed the award criteria.  Pioneer Medallion recipients will be contacted to pick up their medallion at the end of the Spring semester.