Eleven seniors have been named Torchbearers, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s highest undergraduate honor, including five seniors from University Honors. Since 1968, the Torchbearer — UT’s official symbol — has stood as a testament to the university’s Volunteer Creed: “One that beareth a torch shadoweth oneself to give light to others.”
Through their exemplary leadership and service, this year’s Torchbearers light the way for future generations of Volunteers. Below are the five Torchbearers who are part of University Honors:
Patrick Angelaccio, of Palatine, Illinois, is pursuing a degree in social work. As a student director for Ignite, he has helped more than 500 incoming first-year students connect with other incoming and current students and facilitated experiences to promote social, personal and leadership success. Angelaccio gives campus tours to prospective Vols as a student ambassador. He is a member of the 1794 Scholars Program and the College of Social Work Honors Program. Angelaccio created “The Empathy Podcast” to provide students with a forum to share their life experiences and has volunteered 226 hours with nonprofits and community partners across the greater Knoxville area.
Jordan Brown, of Memphis, Tennessee, is majoring in psychology and sociology with a concentration in criminology and criminal justice with a minor in political science. She served as 2022-23 president of the Student Government Association and received the SGA Visionary Award. Brown is a member of the Chancellor’s Advisory Board, a Jones Center for Leadership and Success ambassador and a Minority Enhancement for the University of Tennessee Scholar. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa honor society and the 1794 Scholars Program and serves as an undergraduate research assistant in the Department of Psychology.
Pilar Garcia, of Chapel Hill, Tennessee, studies English with a minor in journalism and electronic media. Garcia serves as president of UT’s Native American Student Association, developing programming for Native American Heritage Month and generating ideas for coalition work with other student organizations. As a research assistant in the Department of English, they helped develop an exhibition and website for UT’s McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture in partnership with four Native nations. Garcia is the guiding force behind the Sigma Tau Delta’s Writer’s Block, a monthly event where students can read and share their poetry, short fiction and other creative pieces with fellow students. Garcia is president of the Alpha Epsilon Chi chapter of English honor society Sigma Tau Delta and a member of the 1794 Scholars Program.
Emily Morgan, of Maryville, Tennessee, designed her own major focusing on Appalachian regional development issues. She is an undergraduate research assistant in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, where she contributes to an analysis of demographic and turnover rates of superintendents in public schools across the United States as they relate to local political contention. Morgan has been involved with multiple student groups on campus including the Student Government Association, the Honors Leadership Program Leadership Council, Ignite, and the Student Basic Needs Coalition. She is a member of both the Honors Leadership Studies and College Scholars programs.
Diba Seddighi, of Knoxville, studies global public health with an emphasis on underserved populations. As president of the Iranian Student Association, she has provided leadership and direction during the COVID-19 pandemic by working with members to develop and implement a comprehensive program of events and activities. Seddighi is an active volunteer in the Knoxville community, working with organizations such as Bridge Refugee Services, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, and Centro Hispano de East Tennessee. She is currently working on her senior thesis as an undergraduate researcher with the Department of Public Health and the College of Arts and Sciences.
The students will each receive a medal during the Chancellor’s Honors Banquet on May 2. The banquet is the university’s largest recognition event of the year.