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Laci Sheddan and Ander Van Dyke stand in front of a Neyland Stadium background to receive their UT acceptance letters from Chancellor Donde Plowman.

Two students from Central High School were surprised with their acceptance letters to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, on February 10. Ander Van Dyke and Laci Sheddan were welcomed into the Volunteer family by Chancellor Donde Plowman, Associate Director of Freshman Recruitment Clay Alexander, and Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions Fabrizio D’Aloisio. Admissions staff greeted the two students and some of their classmates outside the high school, delivering UT swag, balloons, and cookies.

Central High School is one of 38 Tennessee high schools whose students are eligible for the Flagship Scholarship, which covers tuition and mandatory fees for up to eight semesters when combined with the HOPE Scholarship. All admitted first-time first-year students who graduate from one of the designated Flagship high schools are eligible for the scholarship. The application and FAFSA deadline for first-year Flagship students has been extended to March 1. Learn more about transfer student eligibility for this scholarship.

“It’s a complete difference maker for our families. It truly is the difference in having the opportunity to go to college or possibly not,” said Central High School Principal Andrew Brown. “I also appreciate that Chancellor Plowman shows up and hand delivers the letters. With a university as big as the University of Tennessee—to have that personal touch is very meaningful to our students.”

Van Dyke is active in a saxophone ensemble and interested in studying biological sciences. He was expecting an assembly when the students were gathered together and was shocked to find out he’d been admitted. Van Dyke is most excited for the opportunity to explore a wide variety of programs at UT.

Sheddan is a member of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, volunteers at Young-Williams Animal Center, and is interested in studying biomedical engineering. She was anxiously awaiting her admission decision and was equally surprised and relieved to find out Rocky Top welcomes her as a new student.

Early action admission decisions were released on December 14, 2020, and regular admissions decisions will be released on February 15. For those interested in exploring UT, socially distanced campus tours are available with advance registration in addition to multiple virtual opportunities to preview academic colleges, talk to current students, meet an admissions counselor, take a virtual campus tour, and engage in other university experiences.


Maddie Stephens (865-974-3993,