Graduate Takes His Final Tour … Across the Commencement Stage
He knows that the only two graves on UT’s campus belong to dogs and that the most popular class on campus is the History of Rock n’ Roll.
Robert “Taylor” Thomas knows dozens of fun facts about UT.
Thomas, who graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences today with a degree in philosophy, has learned many things at UT. But as a UT Ambassador, he has taught many things as well.
UT Ambassadors are the student liaisons and tour guides for prospective students and their parents who are visiting campus.
Thomas made sure his tours were filled with useful—and quirky—information about UT.
“The Torchbearer’s torch went out once when LSU fans put a jack-o-lantern on it. Another time its arm fell off. Also, in 1974, a public streak was held on Cumberland Avenue after Walter Cronkite named Knoxville the ‘Streaking Capital of the World.’ That’s why we call Cumberland ‘The Strip.’ Those are just some of my favorites,” Thomas said.
Thomas, of Lexington, Tennessee, has given more than 300 campus tours, setting what is believed to be a nationwide record for campus tours.
“My job meant everything to me. Getting on that bus and seeing people’s faces—it was a fun time. I was here to get an education, but being a student ambassador was a very special part of my college experience.”
Thomas applied to be a UT Ambassador at the end of his freshman year. After a year of being an Ambassador, he applied for a leadership position.
“I asked him how he would gain the respect of upperclassmen who had been in the program longer,” said Laura Stansell, assistant director of admissions. “He paused, then said, ‘Well, I don’t speak up a lot, so I like to think that when I do, people listen.’ How right he was!”
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