Growing up an avid Tennessee football fan, Tyler Young of Knoxville didn’t always plan to attend the University of Tennessee. When deciding what school he wanted to attend, Young was mostly concerned with finding a place that would push him outside of his comfort zone and prepare him for the future. UT felt too comfortable and faded from his mind until late in his high school senior year.
But Young’s plans changed at the last minute and he ended up enrolling at UT, following in his older sister’s footsteps. Once he arrived on campus, Young quickly realized he could still have a unique experience at a university that, in a lot of ways, already felt like home. One of the ways he accomplished that was by getting involved with as many clubs and student organizations as he could.
Young grew from each challenge, learning how to persevere with grace and determination. A lot of students get discouraged when they hear the word no. But Young used it as motivation. As a standout student in the Haslam College of Business, Young wanted to get involved with a number of competitive programs but unfortunately wasn’t selected for some of the opportunities. “I’ve never let rejection drive me down,” said Young. “If one door closed, then it closed for a reason. I just kept pushing forward and tried to make an impact in whatever new way that might be.”
By his sophomore year, Young found his strength as a peer mentor. The college coordinates several mentorship programs to assist students with their academic journey at UT. Young had a knack for connecting with others and quickly emerged as a leader in the Business Administration 100 peer mentor program, which helps first-year students make a successful transition to the university. He also served in the Haslam Network program, mentoring juniors and seniors in high school who are interested in business.
His tenacity continued to propel him forward, and he was selected as Lead Haslam Ambassador for the past two years. Ambassadors work in recruitment programs, give tours, and represent the college at special events. Young served on the college’s Student Advisory Council, where he shared ideas and feedback to make his peers’ college experience the best. He landed multiple internships, including placements with Dell Technologies and Tractor Supply Company, which gave him real-world experience in supply chain management. Selected as a participant in the Big Orange Combine, he also facilitated operations for events in Miami during the week leading up to Super Bowl LIV. Excelling during his time there, Young was recognized by the NFL and Fans First for exceptional service.
Young could have easily missed out on these opportunities if he hadn’t kept a positive attitude during some of his early difficulties. He credits his deep connections with mentors in the Haslam College of Business, like Director of Student Engagement Mark Willoughby and Lecturer Debbie Mackey, as a key factor in his success. “I can remember all the times I went to their offices and talked about life, and how I’m doing on campus. They cared about me as a person, not just another student,” Young said. “They were able to point me in the direction of a lot of really unique opportunities, and they challenged me to be the best that I can be.”
In addition to his involvement on campus, Young volunteered at Emmett Elementary School in Bristol, Tennessee, where he taught business principles to fifth graders. The Haslam College of Business maintains a partnership with the school, allowing current UT students to share their knowledge with disadvantaged youth and hopefully inspire them to pursue a college degree. Young described that service as one of the most rewarding experiences during his four years as an undergraduate. “Something that’s neat about UT is this culture of people wanting to inspire others to do great things,” he said. “We’re always looking for ways to impact each other and impact the community. That’s something I didn’t fully understand until I got here.”
Young plans to work with Dell Technologies as a part of their Supply Chain Development Program based in Austin, Texas, starting in June.
Named one of UT’s 2021 Torchbearers, the university’s highest undergraduate honor, Young stands as a prime example of what can be achieved when students refuse to give up. Stepping forward through this new open door, he’s excited to try something new and confident in his ability to overcome any challenges that may lie ahead.
Maddie Stephens (865-974-3993, firstname.lastname@example.org)