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Cody Sain, a senior in the Haslam Scholars program, took center stage Friday to thank donors for their investment in student scholarships and the Haslam Scholars program. 

Sain is from Humbolt, a small town in west Tennessee. He is majoring in microbiology with a concentration in pre-medicine and a minor in Africana studies. Along with being a Haslam Scholar, Sain receives the Peyton Manning scholarship and other privately funded scholarships to help cover the cost of earning his degree. 

Sain spoke to a group of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and donors at the Join the Journey fundraising campaign launch events held last Friday.

“I was the only student in my graduating class to come to UT that year,” Sain said. “The university did such an amazing job of making me feel special that I knew it was the right place for me.” 

He told the groups that like nearly all students, cost was a major factor in his college decision. 

“Because of the scholarships I have received, I can graduate without the weight of debt on my shoulders,” he said. “I can stay focused on my school work and the opportunities to lead and serve on campus and in the community.”  

Sain is currently applying to top medical schools. He plans to be an anesthesiologist and one day serve with Doctors Without Borders, a humanitarian aid organization. For the past two years, he has worked in Associate Professor Tim Sparer’s microbiology lab studying the role of neutrophils in the dissemination of human and murine cytomegalovirus.

Cody Sain poses with his mother and Chancellor Davenport during the community launch.

As a Haslam Scholar, Sain studied abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland, the summer before his junior year. He is now finishing up his senior thesis that will be the culmination of his microbiology work he began at the University of Edinburgh.

He said one of best things about being a Haslam Scholar is the relationships he’s built with his 12 classmates.  

“I get to experience college alongside some of the brightest and most highly motivated students there are. To me, that is one of the biggest blessings of all,” he said. “I would not trade those friendships now for anything in the world.”

Sain said he looks forward to opportunities to “pay it forward.”

“I want to help future students pursue the kind of education I have been so fortunate to receive,” he said. 

“UT has shaped my future by giving me unique opportunities to learn about the world around me, but also what I can do to spark change in it. I think a lot about the people who have invested in me and my education. It overwhelms me. But it also inspires me to give back,” said Sain. 

Students who have graduated over the past five years have invested in the Join the Journey campaign by giving a Senior Impact gift upon their graduation to honor their time as a Vol. Gifts are designated to an area or campus program that matters the most to them.  

Last May, a record 1,226 seniors gave UT a one-time gift of $20.17 or made a three-year pledge gift.