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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Travis Wright, a senior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, is on USA TODAY’s “1998 All-USA College Academic Team.”

 Wright, 22, was one of nearly 1,200 nominees for the 20-student team, announced in today’s editions of the newspaper.

He visited USA TODAY’s offices outside Washington, D.C., Thursday and was to stay over today for a luncheon honoring the team. Each team member received a $2,500 award.

 A Whittle Scholar at UT-Knoxville, Wright said Dr. Tom Broadhead, a geological sciences professor and head of the campus honors program, nominated him for the team.

 Dr. Paul Pinckney, associate professor of history, wrote a supporting letter, Wright said.

 “I think they looked for good students who were trying to put to use what they learned,” said Wright, crediting his selection by USA TODAY in part to volunteer work he has done.

 Wright founded an organization at UT-Knoxville called University Students Helping Elementary Schools Reach Success. Members volunteer one hour per week to help teach elementary school students about character and values. Wright said he especially enjoys introducing fellow students to the satisfaction of volunteer work.

“They try it and they love it — and the kids that they work with love it,” Wright said.

 A graduate of Morristown-East High School, Wright was an active member of 4-H. His family stressed the importance of helping others, he said.

 “Volunteering is a big part of the 4-H program and my family was always supportive,” Wright said.

 Wright is a participant in the university’s College Scholars Program, which allowed him to develop his own degree path. His focus has been on community development and organization.

 Scheduled to graduate in May, Wright plans to attend law school. First, though, he wants to spend a year working with young people in a rural community.

 “I have in mind something that might involve education reform and getting young people involved in their communities,” Wright said.

 Contact: Travis Wright (423-524-1937),  Dr. Tom Broadhead (423-974-7875)