Highest UT undergrad honor goes to Campbell, Boyer, Young

Three local University of Tennessee students recently were named among the latest class of Torchbearers, recognized among the six honorees of UT’s highest undergraduate honor.

Class of 2017 Bearden High School graduate Natalie Campbell, Webb School of Knoxville graduate Taylor Boyer and Christian Academy of Knoxville graduate Tyler Young were the locals recognized

Campbell, the daughter of Bryan and Kimberley Campbell, recalled she was surprised by the honor.

“I was sitting in my class when Dr. Frank Cuevas and Dean Shea, as well as the Jones Center for Leadership and Service, came in to join in on the surprise,” the senior with plans to graduate from UT May 8, recalled.

“When I first came to the University of Tennessee, I absolutely fell in love with what the Volunteer creed says and what it means: ‘One that beareth a torch shadoweth one’s self to give light to others.’ It is a beautiful reminder of what being a Volunteer truly is,” Campbell added. “To be honored with this award and to be recognized by having a similar character to this is so humbling.”

Campbell said she did not know how she came to be chosen “It was the communities of friends, peers and mentors across campus that poured into me while a part of different organizations — like Ignite, Leadership Knoxville Scholars, Student Government Association, Student Ambassadors, RUF, Camp Koinonia, Students for The Rock, and more — that truly made the difference in my life,” she said.

Campbell is studying special education with a minor in English.

“She served as a student director for Ignite, an extended orientation program in UT’s Jones Center for Leadership and Service that welcomes first-year students to UT by connecting them to Knoxville and providing community service opportunities,” Madeline “Maddie” Stephens, UT-Knoxville Student Communications’ public relations specialist, stated in a press release. “

“Campbell worked overtime with JCLS staff to re-imagine the program after the pandemic threatened to shut down the experience for incoming students,” she added.

“She has also served as a Student Ambassador tour guide, a Leadership Knoxville Scholar, Camp Koinonia counselor and art director of Students for the Rock, a student-led group that promotes messages of inclusivity and positivity on UT’s iconic Rock.”

“I will start graduate courses here in pursuit of my Master’s in special education,” Campbell said. “Following it, I have hopes of being in Washington, D.C., for some time and then one day being a school administrator or working for a school district.

“I care very deeply for the disability community and the advocacy work for students receiving special education services in schools.

Boyer is a 1794 Scholar studying marketing with a collateral in international business.

She is the founder and president of Women of Haslam, a student organization focused on bringing together business-minded women from across campus for networking and professional development opportunities.

Boyer has served as a Haslam Ambassador, Smith Global Leadership Scholar, president of the South Carrick Residence Hall Council, a member of Student Alumni Associates and president of the Order of Omega Greek leadership honor society.

She has held numerous leadership positions in the Haslam College of Business and across campus, dedicating her time to mentoring others and creating empowering spaces for women. Boyer plans to attend UT’s College of Law in the fall, according to Stephens.

“It’s a huge honor to be a winner of the Torchbearer,” Boyer stated in the press release. “I think this university is like a big family. We all have that Volunteer spirit and use it to pour into each other.

“UT has really encouraged me to make a difference, be my best self and to give back — whether it’s in the Knoxville community, on campus or to those coming after me.”

Young stated in the press release, “Especially having grown up here in Knoxville, to be a recipient of this award is a huge honor and so humbling. This university has given so much to me, so I want to give back and continue to pour into the lives of students that are still here well after I leave.”

Stephens stated Young, a senior, is studying supply chain management and business analytics. As lead ambassador for the Haslam College of Business, he has dedicated much of his time to supporting students in his program and welcoming prospective Vols to campus.

“He has served in multiple peer mentor roles within the college, spent a term as vice president of Beta Upsilon Chi fraternity, participated in the Student Alumni Associates and volunteered at Emmett Elementary School in Bristol, Tennessee, where he taught business principles to fifth graders,” Stephens stated.

“After serving as a supply chain intern with Dell Technologies last summer, Young will go on to work with the company as a part of their Supply Chain Development Program based in Austin, Texas, starting in June,” she added.

“Since 1968, the Torchbearer statue — UT’s official symbol — has stood on campus with a plaque stating the Volunteer Creed … a physical reminder of the values that are central to UT. Each year, a group of students who have gone above and beyond in demonstrating their commitment to service, outstanding leadership and academic achievement are named Torchbearers in recognition of their extraordinary accomplishments.”

Stephens stated the recipients learned of their selection through a surprise visit by Chancellor Donde Plowman or a member of her cabinet in early March.

”The surprises took place both in person and virtually, to accommodate students who are not on campus,” she said.

As a Torchbearer, each honoree received a plaque and a medal during the Chancellor’s Honors Banquet April 7. “The banquet is the university’s largest recognition event of the year,” Stephens added.