Skip to main content

KNOXVILLE—Next month, the first class of Haslam Scholars will graduate from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

These students arrived at UT four years ago as part of the inaugural class of the Haslam Scholars Program, a premier four-year scholarship program created with generous contributions from Jimmy and Dee Haslam and Jim and Natalie Haslam.

“It is not easy to participate in the founding of a new honors program at the same time you’re working on your own major and growing as a young adult,” said Steve Dandaneau, associate provost and director of the Chancellor’s Honors and Haslam Scholars Programs. “The inaugural class of Haslam Scholars took a chance on a new and untested program. And, as they have in so many endeavors, they made it look easy.”

Each year, the Haslam Scholars Program admits up to fifteen first-year students from the university-wide Chancellor’s Honors Program and supports them with the university’s most prestigious scholarships. Haslam Scholars are part of an intimate academic and leadership group mentored by top faculty.

The soon-to-graduate Haslam Scholars took twenty-eight credit hours together, including general education seminars drawing on UT’s recognized academic strengths in the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. Each student participated in service-learning and an executive-level internship.

During the summer following their sophomore year, the students went for three week s to China, where they learned about that country’s writing, history, politics, economics, philosophy, and similar topics in special lectures at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

The students are currently researching their honors theses, monitored by top UT faculty.

The Haslam Scholars have excelled academically but also set the bar high for outreach activities.

Haslam Scholars recently organized the Running with Hope 5K on our campus to raise funds for Redeeming Hope Ministries located near campus.

Being a part of the Haslam Scholars Program has afforded the students opportunities to broaden their horizons in ways that would otherwise not have been possible, according to scholar Caitlin Conley Wise.

“I also have been connected to the best professors and the best students to maximize my learning experience,” she said. “Being a Haslam Scholar has made UT into a smaller and more welcoming university, where I feel encouraged to be the best that I can be and free to be who I need to be.”

Here’s a look at the first class of Haslam Scholars who will soon be graduating:

Morgan Baltz
Mt. Juliet, Tennessee
Baltz got plenty of real-world experience during her college years, thanks to a two-part internship with ExxonMobil. She worked as a process engineer in the chemical plant in Baytown, Texas, and as a business analyst for the Global Marine Transportation Optimization group in Fairfax, Virginia. She plans to pursue a doctorate after finishing her degree in chemical engineering.

Anna-Lise Burnette
Seymour, Tennessee
Burnette is majoring in global studies and Asian studies and is working her honors thesis project—writing a children’s book in Japanese and English, the kind of book she wishes she had available to her as a child. During the past few years, she’s honed her writing skills by interning with Metro Pulse and writing a weekly column in The Daily Beacon. In May, she will chaperone sophomore Haslam Scholars during their immersion in Japan.

Kelley Callaway
Knoxville, Tennessee
Callaway, who is majoring in chemistry and psychology, has found a variety of ways to put her studies into practice. She’s interning at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and doing research with a post-doctorate student. She has had a chance to attend meetings at ORNL and shadow a doctor who works there. Callaway will work in a psychology lab over the summer and plans to pursue a master’s degree in neuroscience.

Caitlin Conley Wise
Franklin, Tennessee
Wise, a nursing major, has found many ways to help the less fortunate here and abroad. Last year, she went to Beijing to work with New Hope Foundation, an organization that provides medical treatment for babies with surgically correctable deformities. Now, she’s busy interviewing Knoxville’s homeless to learn about their health care needs for her senior thesis. Wise is a board member for Redeeming Hope Ministries, a group that helps Knoxville’s homeless. She will work in an emergency room this spring and plans to pursue her master’s degree in nursing to become a nurse practitioner.

Margaret Conley
Jonesborough, Tennessee
Conley, an animal science major with a pre-vet concentration, has surveyed Tennessee’s dairy producers to find out how they communicate with employees and how they get information about their business. Her goal is to help the dairy industry communicate more effectively with the general public. She will earn a doctorate in veterinary medicine at UT and then practice large- and small-animal medicine.

Charlie Edwards
Lawrenceburg, Tennessee
Edwards is a Global Leadership Scholar in the College of Business Administration. He spent a semester studying international business in Sydney, Australia, where he also interned with the renowned Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organization. For his thesis, Edwards is researching how small businesses will be affected by federal health care legislation. After graduation, Edwards will work for Pilot Flying J and plans to earn his MBA.

Alexander Happ
Germantown, Tennessee
Happ spent a semester studying in Budapest. He also interned with Professor Suzanne Lenhart at National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) and helped add mathematics to the “Biology in the Box” project, which provides hands-on materials for school teachers to use with their students. Happ performs with three UT choral groups and serves as treasurer for the Navigators on-campus ministry. He has been recognized by the US Fulbright Program and plans to seek a graduate degree in mathematics.

Aeron Glover
Memphis, Tennessee
Aeron Glover already has made a name for himself as a young entrepreneur. The industrial engineering major worked with a fellow student to start a company called How’s The Living Inc., which runs the website They won $25,000 in Movers and Changers, a national competition sponsored by the New York Stock Exchange and mtvU; $23,000 in prize money and services from the Fall 2010 Vol Court Competition; and a $10,000 business development grant from the Tennessee Technology Development Corporation. After graduation, Glover plans to work full-time with Google, where he did an internship.

Chelsea Knotts
Ripley, West Virginia
Knotts runs track, helps the homeless, and does research that could help unlock the keys to cancer. For her senior thesis, this biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology major is looking at how different chemicals interact with estrogen—which could play a role in tumor formation. The research has fueled her desire to attend medical school. Knotts is a member of the Lady Volunteer track and field and cross country teams and also serves on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee. She also started a running group for the homeless to teach them goal-setting skills and commitment.

Bert Ruyten
Tullahoma, Tennessee
Ruyten has studied drama with the UT English department in New York City, has helped write policy for the Student Government Association, and has tutored students at a Title I elementary school in East Knoxville. For his thesis, this English major is working on a critique of how English is taught in American higher education.

Candance Swanigan
Memphis, Tennessee
A psychology and French major, Swanigan has volunteered as a cognitive evaluator in the Cole Neuroscience Clinic at UT Medical Center. She recently completed a two-year appointment on the Knoxville Opera Executive Board and is working with fellow Haslam Scholar Mark Walker to create a program that introduces high school students to the opera. She’s spending this semester studying in Grenoble, France, and will join the Peace Corps when she returns. Eventually, she hopes to go to medical school and work with a charitable group like Doctors Without Borders.

Elizabeth Tiller
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Tiller is majoring in public administration and Spanish. She’s had internships at Hospice of West Alabama and Tuscaloosa’s One Place where she helped organize that city’s first annual Hispanic Diversity and Wellness Fair. She is on the Lady Vol track and field and cross country teams. She is also the director’s assistant at Redeeming Hope Ministries. She plans to earn an MBA at UT with a focus on entrepreneurship and innovation or nonprofit management.

Brittany Vasquez
Morristown, Tennessee
An anthropology major, Vasquez has been working at the Forensic Anthropology Center, also known as the Body Farm, to research human decomposition. She helped work on the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System and gathered information from the department’s cold-case files. Vasquez works in the campus admissions office and volunteers with the Big Brother Big Sister program of East Tennessee. She also writes a weekly column for The Daily Beacon. Her goal is to attend medical school and become a forensic pathologist.

Mark Walker
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Mark Walker is a nuclear engineering major and a research student at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he is involved with the Nuclear Materials Identification System (NMIS) project. A 2011 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar, Walker chaired the 2011 UT Engineers’ Day. Walker also enjoys playing the piano and is serving on the Board of Directors of the Knoxville Opera Company. He will attend the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

NOTE: Photos of Haslam Scholars are available upon request.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,