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Spring flowers bloom around the Torchbearer in Circle Park on the evening of

Vols help Vols. It’s a slogan commonly heard on the campus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and its importance was especially evident during the Vol to Vol virtual networking event held earlier this semester. The event connected members of UT’s Alumni Board of Directors with undergraduate students participating in the UT LEAD program for first-generation students. Meeting in 20-minute breakout groups, the alumni provided advice and counsel in areas of interest identified by the students.

“It is always a pleasure to share tips for success with the students. Vols do help Vols, and this mentoring–networking session allows rich dialogue on a host of topics. The students are always eager to talk with alumni and better understand the world after their UT graduation. The ability to share life and career pointers are great conversation topics,” said Mike Berry, past president of the Alumni Board of Directors.

For more information about UT LEAD, check out this video.


Topics for discussion included making your mark at UT, networking, financial literacy, tips for student success, and navigating the transition from college to career. Students were encouraged to come prepared with questions for the board members.

“I was very impressed by how engaged our students were throughout the networking event. They asked some good questions, which made it a joy to share my experiences,” said Duane Wiles, associate vice chancellor for alumni affairs.

Trevor-PoundersTrevor Pounders is a first-year exploratory major who attended sessions with alumni Ivie Burns, a financial advisor for Morgan Stanley, and Joshua Dobbs, quarterback with the Pittsburgh Steelers. “This event was a much-needed confidence booster,” Pounders said. “I went in not knowing what to expect and came out more informed and highly appreciative knowing that I, as a UT student, have this UT family I can speak to about numerous topics regarding my academic, professional, and personal life.”

Daisy-EvansDaisy Evans is a prelaw student minoring in political science in her first year at UT. “It was a wonderful experience to get to talk with alumni and share some similar UT experiences with them,” Evans said. “Out of this event, I gained a lot of helpful information to help me succeed at college, such as how important networking is and that you need always to think strategically while still having a world view that makes you level-headed. After this event, I feel more prepared for UT and how to go about networking for my future.”

Antonio-TaylorAntonio Taylor, a first-year student majoring in biology, said, “This event provided me with lots of information about networking and how to make an impact while on campus. For example, I learned how to improve my communication skills so that I can network more appropriately.”

UT LEAD (Leadership, Excellence, Achievement, and Diversity) promotes undergraduate success, academic excellence, and persistence to graduation for first-generation college students. Students participate in a comprehensive academic, social, and cultural program while building relationships with peers, faculty, and staff. These relationships and resources will help them become a part of the UT community and keep them focused on their academic, professional, and personal goals.


Lacey Wood (865-974-8386,