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Eric Stokes with UT Students

He’s assistant director of admissions, adviser to the UT Chapter of the NAACP, member of the Urban League’s Young Professionals, executive board member for the National Achievers Society, second-year doctoral student, father, and husband.

And now Eric Stokes’ résumé lists another role — director for the UT LEAD Summer Institute, a five-week program for incoming freshmen, most of them Pledge and Promise scholarship recipients.

During the school year, UT LEAD continues by assisting students through academic counseling and other learning opportunities. Administered by the Student Success Center, this program also focuses on students who have received the Pledge and Promise scholarships, as well as students who are continuing on the African American Achievers Scholarship (AAA) and African American Incentive Grant Program (AAIG). UT LEAD’s goal is to help these students achieve academic success and fulfill the grade requirements of their scholarships.

“We let them know that we’re really committed to what we say about students being successful,” Stokes said.

Eric StokesFor the Summer Institute, Stokes coordinated programs that focused on diversity, money, technology and etiquette, among other topics. He said the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

“They enjoyed having the opportunity to start school early and experience what the fall would be like,” he said. “We wanted students to be more prepared academically, socially and personally.”

In his admissions role, Stokes travels across the state to Nashville, Chattanooga and occasionally to Memphis. He spreads the word about the Pledge and Promise scholarships, which offer low-income students and students from high schools that haven’t sent many students to UT in the past the opportunity to attend through a scholarship.

But Stokes doesn’t give up on the students if their hearts don’t belong to UT Knoxville.

“Not everyone is going to get into UT, and sometimes, not everyone wants to go to UT,” Stokes said. “I’m still a big advocate of helping students find the right fit for them.”

Stokes said he often runs across students who lack the confidence to apply because they fear they won’t measure up. But the admissions office does more than look at grades; they read each student’s application to learn more about his or her specific situation. “My advice would be that you have to apply,” Stokes said. “You never know what can happen.”