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Fifteen students—including aspiring biomedical engineers, public servants, and linguists—have been named as the 2015 class of Haslam Scholars.

The incoming class includes ten students from Tennessee and one each from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Virginia, and Georgia.

The Haslam Scholars Program is UT’s premier enrichment program. Each year, the program admits up to fifteen first-year students and supports them with the university’s most prestigious and generous named scholarships.

Program benefits include a study abroad experience valued at $4,000, as well as up to $7,000 to support an additional study abroad experience, undergraduate research, and travel to present their work. In addition, each Haslam Scholar will receive a scholarship package that totals more than $22,000 for four years.

The Haslam Scholars were selected from more than 300 applicants after a rigorous selection process that included an application review, an initial interview, and an invitation to participate in the selection weekend in early March. Selection criteria include strong academic achievement, integrity, community service, and leadership.

The new Haslam Scholars are:

KM_C654e-20150220131527Max Burzinski, a graduate of Washington County Technical High School in Hagerstown, Maryland. He plans to study biomedical engineering. Burzinski said he loves to take apart old computers and other machines to use the components for new projects. “Recently, I created a working model of the human hand and used it during a presentation on the biomanufacturing of human proteins and the development of prosthetics throughout history at a US Senate caucus in Washington, DC,” he said. He also plays French horn, piano, and saxophone.

ACameronAlayna Cameron, a graduate of Cookeville High School in Cookeville, Tennessee. She wants to study chemical engineering. She’s been active in the National Honor Society, Young Democrats, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Middle Tennessee Vocal Association choir, and Girls State. “I was elected as the state vice president for Mu Alpha Theta, in which I will be helping to coordinate and organize the Tennessee Mu Alpha Theta convention. We are also coordinating a middle school math competition known as the Mini-Mu convention, where we hope to engage the younger generation in mathematics.” She also plays piano and ukulele and volunteers with Rising Above Ministries, an organization that helps people with special needs.

DiehlEmily Diehl, a graduate of Owen J. Roberts High School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. She wants to study industrial engineering. She has done research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab, a program that seeks to improve the quality of life for elderly people and their caregivers. She also participated in a five-week college preparatory program at Vanderbilt University. She plays ice hockey and is a rower.

AEllingtonAinsley Ellington, a graduate of Alcoa High School, in Alcoa, Tennessee. She wants to study chemical engineering. The top student in her graduating class, she played three varsity sports during all four years of high school. She’s also worked two jobs since she was sixteen. A leader in her church youth group, she has gone on mission trips to India and Italy. “I look forward to studying abroad in addition to continuing international missions,” she said. “I hope to study and learn new languages in order to gain a glimpse into new cultures through the eyes of native speakers.”

 FialaBrianna Fiala, a graduate of Merrol Hyde Magnet School in Hendersonville, Tennessee. She wants to study nursing. “Growing up with a brother diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, I always had an innate love for taking care of others,” she said. During high school, she worked part-time at Senior Helpers, an in-home health care company that serves the elderly and disabled, and volunteered at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. She served as president of DECA, an organization for students interested in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management; was active in student government; and was varsity cheer captain.

LamseyMatthew Lamsey, a graduate of Signal Mountain High School in Signal Mountain, Tennessee. He wants to study biomedical engineering. He enjoys rock climbing, has organized a student-led jazz band, referees local soccer matches, and has served as an officer in several school organizations. He wants to do research in prostheses and artificial tissue development.

LarimerJack Larimer, a graduate of O’Fallon Township High School in Belleville, Illinois. He wants to study astrophysics and public policy. “With a degree in physics and public policy, I hope to advise political candidates on issues of science and technology, working towards my goal of becoming an executive in NASA or a United States congressman.” He has been president of his high school chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a leader in his church’s youth group. He’s been on the cross-country track team, served as a representative on the student council, and participated on his school’s robotics team. During summers, he works at a camp and teaches youngsters how to ride horses.

LeithJordan Leith, a graduate of Arlington High School in Arlington, Tennessee. He wants to study biomedical engineering. “I dream of working for Doctors Without Borders to help the poor and sick who are dehumanized because of diseases or conditions they cannot control,” he said. “The thought of using engineering to design proactive solutions to seemingly hopeless medical conditions brings a smile to my face.”

LiangJason Liang, a graduate of Collierville High School in Collierville, Tennessee. He wants to study mathematics and computer science. He came to America from China four years ago. “In the beginning, I was a really shy boy because of my language barrier and stuttering problems, but my love for mathematics and good performances in math competitions gradually gave me more confidence,” he said. He placed first out of 600 students in both FERMAT I and FERMAT II math exams at UT. He serves in his school’s student government association and participates on the speech and debate team. He also plays the oboe, runs, and volunteers in the library.

LidwinMichael Lidwin, a graduate of John Champe High School in Chantilly, Virginia. He wants to study architecture. He has served as president of his school’s student council and Key Club. He has been a tutor in his high school’s writing center and at his former elementary school. “I love anything related to the arts, and have enjoyed acting in musicals, singing in my school’s small vocal ensemble, and spending countless mornings and study halls in the art room,” he said. He is also an avid runner.

CMooreCatherine Moore, a graduate of Dyersburg High School in Dyersburg, Tennessee. She will study agricultural communications. “I plan to attend law school to become an agricultural lobbyist to be the voice of the 2.2 million farmers in America,” she said. She enjoys geocaching and playing tennis.

AMorganAvery Morgan, a graduate of Columbus High School in Columbus, Georgia. She will study supply chain management and language. She spent a summer volunteering as a research assistant to a German scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. “This led to working with the indigenous Ch’orti Mayan community in Guatemala while producing a documentary on the cycle of poverty,” she said. “I would like to study policy and continue to work to combat the effects of poverty, and study abroad as much as possible. I also want to become fluent in French and Portuguese in addition to Spanish. One day, I want to work for the UN or establish an organization that effectively addresses the issues of extreme poverty.”  She’s been her school’s varsity lacrosse captain, a public speaker at school recruiting events, and vice president of the Georgia chapter of the National Beta Club.

RigneyGrant Rigney, a graduate of Tullahoma High School in Normandy, Tennessee. He will study biomedical engineering. “I desire to develop implantable surgical robotics that change the way we currently view the necessity of surgery, and I plan on implementing these developments as a surgeon,” he said. He is a professional musician who has won state and national championships on the fiddle and mandolin, performed more than 400 concerts in more than 10 different states with his family band, and released four CDs.  “My family started a program, of which I am now the coordinator and teacher, which offers disadvantaged middle school students the opportunity to grow through learning how to play guitar at no cost to them.”

JScottJulia Scott, a graduate of Comensius School in Nashville, Tennessee. She will study business and biology. A home schooled student, she enjoys reading, sports, piano, and volunteering. “I have a heart for service and volunteering, especially with underprivileged and needy people in my community. This has come from serving first in my church, then in a special needs student program, and then additionally using my Spanish in the Hispanic community.” She is co-captain of her high school’s varsity basketball team and a swimmer.  

SonnenbergPatrick Sonnenberg, a graduate of Summit High School in Spring Hill, Tennessee. He will study linguistics. He has held leadership positions in the Spanish Club, French Club, Model UN, Youth in Government, Gay-Straight Alliance, and Habitat for Humanity. He has earned gold, silver, and bronze medals in multiple national Spanish and French exams. “I plan to apply my strong work ethic, language skills, travel experiences, and cultural connections to advocate for human rights and spread a message of equality and peace around the globe in several languages.”


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,