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Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek celebrated faculty, staff, and students for their accomplishments and service Tuesday at the annual Chancellor’s Honors Banquet. The banquet is the university’s largest recognition event of the year.

Seven students received the Torchbearer award, the highest honor given to a student. The award is based on academic achievement, leadership, and outstanding service.

The following students received the award:

Jalen Blue
Jalen Blue

Jalen Blue is a senior majoring in public administration from Brentwood, Tennessee. Blue has been serving as a student trustee on the UT Board of Trustees. He has held positions on Student Life Council and the United Residence Hall Council and as a counselor for Math Camp. He has been the student representative on the UT System Diversity Advisory Council, the Provost’s Advisory Council, and the Sexual Assault and Misconduct Task Force. He has been a mentor for the Multicultural Mentoring Program and the Leadership Studies Minor Mentor Program.

Cayce Davis
Cayce Davis

Cayce Davis, of Roland, Arkansas, is a Haslam Scholar. He pursued an independent research project on architecture built during ages of tremendous social upheaval. This work was done outside his normal coursework. Davis recently was selected as a Fulbright Scholar semifinalist and will focus his research project on new ways Poland can move forward socially and economically. His battle with brain cancer, now in remission, has led to a strong commitment to improve the lives of children. He leads hands-on science experiments at Pond Gap Elementary School through the Haslam Scholars Science Saturday Program. He also volunteers with Ronald McDonald House, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and the Mid-South Chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Torchbearer 2016_Kahl_ Madison
Madison Kahl

Madison Kahl is a biological sciences major and a member of the Chancellor’s Honors Program from Knoxville. Kahl has spent her entire college career holding positions in UT’s Student Government Association. She was a member of the Freshman Council and then became Freshman Council Advisor. She served as SGA executive treasurer and was then elected student body vice president. Kahl also volunteers with Remote Area Medical.

Torchbearer 2016_Kemp_ Willie
Willie Kemp

Willie Kemp is a senior in materials science and engineering from Gallatin, Tennessee. Kemp has played a role in recruiting and retaining underrepresented students at UT. He serves as a mentor for the Multicultural Mentoring Program and is a student recruiter for Minority Enhancement for UT. He also was a two-time leader for Ignite, guiding first-year students in team building and leadership activities. He is involved with Leadership Knoxville Scholars and assisted in the creation of the new leadership studies minor.

Torchbearer 2016_Reszel_ Bradford
Bradford Reszel

Bradford Reszel of Libertyville, Illinois, graduated in December with a degree in sociology. Reszel was involved with the Top 25 Student Advisory Board, Leadership Knoxville Scholars, the LeaderShape Institute, Impact, Emerging Leaders, SGA Election Commission, concert choir and intramural sports. He spent two summers as a team leader for Ignite, which provides retreats for incoming students, and then became co-director. His desire to help at-risk freshman students find their place on campus led him to help create Spark, a two-day retreat for first-year students who want to get involved on campus, develop their leadership skills and network with other students.

Torchbearer 2016_Seddighi_ Sahba
Sahba Seddighi

Sahba Seddighi of Knoxville is studying neuroscience through the College Scholars Program. She has received numerous awards for her research and has conducted neuroscience studies at the National Institutes of Health and Stanford University. Seddighi is co-founder of the National Association for Undergraduate Research Advancement, the student coordinator for the International Conference of Undergraduate Research, co-chair of the Undergraduate Research Student Association, primary organizer of the Undergraduate Research Symposium, and editor-in-chief of Pursuit, the Journal of Undergraduate Research at UT.

Wayne Taylor is a 2016 Torchbearer award winner, a Chancellor's Honors Award.
Wayne Taylor

Wayne Taylor is an accounting major from Arlington, Tennessee. His career at UT began when he attended Business Education for Talented Students as a high school senior, and he gives back to that program by serving as a tutor for current participants. He is a member of both the Chancellor’s Honors Program and the Global Leadership Scholars. He chairs the National Association for Black Accountants and serves with the Student Government Association, First Year Studies American Sign Language group, Venture Living and Learning Community, Rocky Top Roundtable student advisory board, and student advisory board for the vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion student advisory board. He has volunteered with the United Way of Greater Knoxville, Midsouth Food Bank, and Junior Achievement.

The full list of faculty, staff, and student awards is available online.


 Katherine Saxon (865-974-8365,