Seven Seniors Receive UT’s Highest Honor

Seven UT students have been recognized for their academic achievement, leadership, and outstanding service with the university’s highest student honor—the Torchbearer award.

The students were recently notified of their selection with surprise visits from Chancellor Beverly Davenport and other UT administrators while in class, in student organization meetings, and even in their coach’s office. They will receive a Torchbearer medal during the Chancellor’s Honors Banquet on Wednesday, April 19. The event is the university’s largest recognition event of the year.

The following students received the award:

Natalie Bennett, of Brentwood, Tennessee, is focused on pursuing a career in medicine. As a College Scholars and Chancellor’s Honors student, she is majoring in cancer biology and cellular metabolism. She volunteered in a Department of Nutrition laboratory where cancer research was being conducted her freshman year. She’s now a key researcher in the lab and has already helped author two peer-reviewed publications. She is president of the Campus Events Board and has served as vice chairperson of the Issues Committee.

Savannah Clay, of Ooltewah, Tennessee, is a nursing student committed to providing culturally competent care and eliminating racial bias in the delivery of health care. She has worked with the Volunteer Ministry Center and the Lost Sheep Ministry and also has developed an interactive simulation to teach her peers how to provide culturally congruent care for Arab Americans. She’s been active in the Student Nurses Association, Student Government Association, Minority Enhancement for the University of Tennessee, and the Multicultural Mentoring Program.

Joshua Dobbs, of Alpharetta, Georgia, is recognized for his leadership on and off the field. The Vols quarterback is also an accomplished aerospace engineering student. Despite his hectic academic and athletic schedules, he has found time to give back to the community. He’s spoken at a number of events, including UT Day on the Hill and the 100 Black Men of Greater Knoxville Gala. He gives back to the community by visiting patients at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and Erlanger Children’s Hospital, making a special point of reaching out to youngsters with alopecia. He also volunteered to serve others after the Sevier County wildfires.

Carson Hollingsworth, of Germantown, Tennessee, is a public administration major with a leadership studies minor. He is president of the Student Government Association, representing UT’s 27,000 students. He has led SGA during the transition of campus leadership and through a year full of challenges impacting the student body. He has also held leadership positions within his fraternity, Delta Tau Delta, and with the Interfraternity Council and the United Residence Halls Council. He served as an orientation leader and has been involved with Ignite and the Leadership Knoxville Scholars program.

Elisabeth Logan, of Walton, Kentucky, started college at the age of 16 and was engaged in many campus activities. She still managed to graduate in December 2016—a semester early. A Chancellor’s Honors student, Logan majored in classics and focused her undergraduate research on bystander intervention programs within the sorority community. She served as president of the Panhellenic Council and has held various positions with the Student Government Association.

Monil Mehta, of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is majoring in microbiology and is president of the UT Student Dental Association. He founded a nonprofit organization, Global Services Projects, to address health disparities. As a Baker Scholar, he explored research on issues affecting the dental profession. As a Chancellor’s Honors student, he has been an undergraduate research assistant. He is also active in the Alpha Kappa Psi professional business fraternity. He has been recognized for his volunteer work with Remote Area Medical, Zoo Knoxville, and Ronald McDonald House.

Louis Varriano, of Memphis, Tennessee, is a Haslam Scholar and physics major. As a freshman, he was named Outstanding First-Year Physics Student; as a sophomore, he received the department’s Talley Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Leadership; and last year he received the national Society of Physics Students Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research. As president of the UT chapter of the Society of Physics Students, he spearheaded the creation of the popular Saturday Science Club, which sends student volunteers to Pond Gap Elementary School to work with schoolchildren on science experiments and demonstrations.