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Until he arrived at UT this fall, freshman electrical engineering major Casey MacKinnon spent his entire life in Asia. He grew up in Japan and lived in Singapore for the past seven years.

He has, however, never been a stranger to Tennessee orange.

One of the main inspirations for MacKinnon’s decision to come to Rocky Top: the many stories he heard from his father, Bryan MacKinnon, an alumnus.

“My dad lived in Hess for three years because the community was so good,” said MacKinnon. “A lot of his floor got together and signed up to live there from freshman to junior year.”

Now that he’s settled onto campus, MacKinnon is excited to be making his own connections.

“Being an engineering student, research is one of the key components,” he said. He plans to explore his options for pursuing research as an undergraduate.

MacKinnon said he’ll also be looking for internships and other real-world experience that will help him land a job after graduation.

“My dream is to be able to work in one of the national laboratories here in the States,” MacKinnon said.

Though he’s far from home, MacKinnon has found camaraderie in UT’s international community.

“In Singapore, I got to meet a lot of people from Korea, from Indonesia, from India, and everywhere,” stated MacKinnon. “All my friends were from all over the world.”

Growing up in Japan, MacKinnon became fluent in both English and Japanese. He’s already developed friendships with some of UT’s other international students, and that’s helping him stay fluent in Japanese.

From playing pick-up soccer on a TRECS field to watching the Vols in Neyland Stadium, MacKinnon is also enjoying all things related to UT athletics.

“I don’t really know football that well compared to people here,” he said. “But it’s just really exciting to be part of the Vols and to watch them play with my own eyes instead of just watching it on TV.”