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Side view of Torchbearer statue with flame in front of cloudy sky.
The Torchbearer statue's flame glows in front of a cloudy sky.

This fall, 15 students from across the state will bring their talents to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as the newest class of Haslam Leadership Scholars. With passions for business, engineering, health care, journalism and politics among other fields, they hope to use their studies to serve communities in Tennessee and around the world.

The Haslam Leadership Scholars program was established in 2008 with a generous gift from Jimmy and Dee Haslam and Jim and Natalie Haslam.

“In University Honors, we provide transformational learning experiences that help each Haslam Leadership Scholar understand and build their academic and leadership potential—to attract, cultivate and retain future leaders of Tennessee,” said Pat Akos, associate vice provost of student success and executive director of the University Honors programs. “The generosity of the Haslam family, our talented faculty and staff, and the unbounded potential of these students are extraordinary. This latest cohort epitomizes the program’s mission, and I eagerly anticipate witnessing their transformative leadership unfold at UT.”

Scholars receive an endowed scholarship that covers tuition, fees and housing. They participate in an exclusive leadership-focused curriculum and a fully funded collaborative study abroad program and are guaranteed a paid internship at a leading Tennessee company or organization.

Program participants have received national recognition including Rhodes, Fulbright, Goldwater, Truman, Udall and Gates Cambridge scholarships. Graduates have gone on to attend top graduate schools and hold high-profile positions in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

Meet the Newest Class of Haslam Leadership Scholars

Eliza Abston

Eliza Abston of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, plans to major in management. She was the co-founder and president of an entrepreneurship club that connects students to local business professionals. She was also president of her high school’s DECA chapter, which allowed her to represent Tennessee as an international finalist in personal financial literacy. Abston served as president of the Model UN Security Council, senate speaker pro tempore at Youth in Government and student body historian on Student Council. She has completed over 190 hours of community service that includes volunteering with local nonprofits and her church’s children’s program. In her spare time she enjoys playing piano, writing stories, and producing beach-themed stickers and shirts for her Etsy store.

Emily Adams

Emily Adams of Knoxville plans to double major in environmental studies and journalism to pursue a career as an environmental lawyer and advocate. An active member of her high school’s community, she founded its Mock Trial Club, served as a member of the Environmental Club Council, organized local volunteer opportunities with Key Club and represented student interests on the Student Advisory Council for the district school board. She enjoys volunteering with environmental nonprofits such as Keep Knoxville Beautiful and Beardsley Community Farm. She loves spending time outdoors with her family, reading books and baking vegan desserts.

Oluwatola Adedokun

Oluwatola Adedokun of Kingsport, Tennessee, intends to major in psychology and pursue a career in psychiatry. He was the clarinet section leader of his high school’s marching band and earned placement in both All-State Band and All-State Orchestra. Volunteering and playing a role in the community are important to him, and he participates in his school’s Beta Club events.




Coleman Bain

Coleman Bain of Fayetteville, Tennessee, plans to major in mechanical engineering and pursue a career in sustainable energy. He served as captain of his high school tennis team and was the 2021 Elk Valley Times Tennis Player of the Year and 2021 doubles tennis regional champion. He was president of both the First National Bank Youth Advisory Board and the Leadership Lincoln Youth Board and served as captain of his high school Scholars’ Bowl team. Bain mentors eighth grade boys in Men of Virtue, teaches elementary school students in the Good News Club, tutors algebra and precalculus students, and gives tennis lessons. In his free time he enjoys playing the violin, sculpting, snowboarding and reading.

Samuel Barbour

Samuel Barbour of Kingsport, Tennessee, plans to major in mechanical engineering and pursue a career in automotive technology. He discovered his interest in automotive engineering when he conducted a vehicle maintenance study for his Advanced Placement capstone course. He enjoys golf and has participated for more than 10 years in the First Tee, a nonprofit volunteer organization, helping young golfers learn life skills on and off the golf course. He is organizing a collaboration of his high school’s Beta Club, the First Tee and the local YMCA to serve elementary school students. He was a varsity athlete in both golf and tennis and was active in his high school’s National Honor Society, Beta Club and STEM Tutoring Club. In his spare time he enjoys photography, automotive racing and spending time with his friends.

Scott Brown

Scott Brown of Signal Mountain, Tennessee, plans to major in economics and political science and study Italian. He was a coaching intern with his high school’s public speaking program and photography editor of the yearbook. He is a member of the National Honor Society and served with his school’s senior leadership and service organization. He is a National Merit Commended Scholar and AP Scholar with Distinction. He is director of operations for the Cultural Value Leadership Institute, a nonprofit he co-founded to provide educational scholarships and resources, and serves as a summer camp counselor. In his free time he enjoys traveling, reading, hiking, photography, youth group and chatting about the latest developments in politics.

Emily Collard

Emily Collard of Bell Buckle, Tennessee, intends to major in geographic information science and minor in meteorology. Passionate about weather from the age of seven, she hopes to pursue a fulfilling career as an aviation meteorologist. At her high school, Collard served as president of both Student Council and the National Honor Society chapter. She was a member of the Bedford County Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council, Leadership Bedford and the Tennessee Department of Education’s Student Engagement Council. She strengthened her leadership abilities as a Girls State delegate and ambassador to the Hugh O’Brian World Leadership Congress. In her free time she loves volunteering at food drives, recording new episodes for her weather podcast, practicing for swim meets and playing piano.

Kathryn Faulkner

Kathryn Faulkner of Knoxville plans to double major in nutrition dietetics and business management in preparation for opening a nutrition practice focusing on chronic diseases, childhood obesity and eating disorders. She recently completed a senior capstone project that included job shadowing with area nutrition professionals. She is a member of the National Honor Society and served as president of her school’s International Club. She played competitive golf for eight years until a career-ending illness her sophomore year. Through that experience, Faulkner developed a passion for nutrition as well as mentoring younger girl golfers. She led a middle school Bible study for eighth grade girls and is currently a teen advisor for the first-year class at her school. In her spare time she loves cross-training, reading, traveling and playing with her black lab, Bear.

Ava Foley

Ava Foley of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, plans to major in political science with a concentration in international relations. She was a member of her high school’s band and served its Student Council as senior class co-president. She was elected secretary-general at Model UN and speaker of the house at Youth in Government. At Volunteer Girls State, she was selected as one of two senators to Girls Nation in Washington, D.C., where she was elected vice president. She has volunteered with local political campaigns and grassroots organizing efforts, and she co-founded a youth advocacy organization. She organizes Her Drive, which has collected more than 22,000 menstrual hygiene products for women in need across Nashville. She hopes to use her education to become a compassionate leader who betters the lives of people in her community and across the world.

Elizabeth Housley

Elizabeth Housley of Greenback, Tennessee, plans to major in business management with a concentration in international business. She was co-captain of her school’s varsity cheerleading team and has been involved in clubs and honor societies including the Chick-fil-A Leadership Academy, National Honor Society, National English Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta. She served as president of her school’s HOSA chapter, overseeing community service projects and leading the team to regional, state and international leadership conferences. She has been recognized academically as an AP Scholar and athletically as a UCA All-American cheerleader. She is active in her community through volunteering at her church. In her free time she enjoys playing with her cats, listening to Taylor Swift and Broadway musicals, working crossword puzzles and crocheting.

Andrew Reynolds-Bailey

Andrew Reynolds-Bailey of Clarksville, Tennessee, plans to major in aerospace engineering. He was the president and senior member of his school’s Tennessee Junior Classical League chapter, where he worked to restore the engagement in classics programs that was lost in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. He served as vice president of his school’s Chess Club, acting as a volunteer and mentor for the chess clubs of local elementary and middle schools, and is a member of the National Honor Society. He has been recognized with awards for his academic and extracurricular achievements, including the Point of Pride award for his contributions to developing district elementary- and middle school-level robotics programs. Reynolds-Bailey works as a lifeguard and water safety instructor, teaching basic swimming skills and improving water safety within his community. Whenever possible, he enjoys spending his free time in and around Tennessee’s natural waterways.

Samuel Strong

Samuel Strong of Collierville, Tennessee, intends to double major in architecture and political science. He aspires to become an architect, aiming to manage and reduce the negative impacts of gentrification on impoverished areas. Strong served as his high school’s student government vice president, Key Club vice president, New Hope Club secretary and school ambassador. He helped reestablish the Knowledge Bowl Club and quiz team at his school and served as the club’s president and team captain. He served as a leader on his school’s varsity soccer and tennis teams and was in seven theater productions. He manages his photography business, leads church youth groups and volunteers as a tutor through Las Americas, a local after-school program that exposed him to the disparities of neighboring communities. While a student at UT, Strong hopes to participate in the College of Architecture and Design’s Design/Build program to benefit the Knoxville community.

Ariel Thompson

Ariel Thompson of Memphis plans to major in computer science with a data science minor. Through a career in software engineering in the entertainment industry, she plans to work to diversify the STEM industry for technology producers of color. As president, she led both the National Society of Black Engineers Junior Memphis chapter and the Technology Student Association Middle College chapter in competitions. She placed first in the TSA state competition three years in a row for promotional design. She served as treasurer and secretary of her senior class and a member of her school’s Academic Achievement Committee and its bowling and tennis teams. She received the College Board National African American Recognition Award and regional Young Masters Writers Program short story top prize. Thompson helped build augmented reality and virtual reality programs for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with CodeCrew, and she participated in the Global Sports Tech Youth program with students from Tel Aviv. Through the Indie Memphis Crew-Up program, she is working to write, direct and produce a short film for the Indie Memphis Youth Film Festival.

Jack Umsted

Jack Umsted of Germantown, Tennessee, plans to major in supply chain management with a focus on leadership and international business. Umsted’s passion for business started with the development of his home service business and was solidified by his selection for a communications and digital marketing internship with his school district in 2022. He partnered with local businesses to launch Youth Leadership Germantown, a program designed to help high school students explore different careers. Umsted donates 20% of his business’s profits, over $3,000 to date, to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He volunteers with his local animal shelter, Hope Student Ministries and St. Jude. At school Umsted served as president of Spanish Club and a member of Honors Academy, Beta Club and the National Spanish Honors Society while participating on the cross country, track and golf teams. He is excited about the opportunities that the Haslam Scholars Program offers to expand his leadership capabilities, further enabling him to drive positive change in his community.

Elizabeth Walker

Elizabeth Walker of Nashville plans to major in economics and pursue a career in the nonprofit sector. Walker began exploring her passion for service by volunteering with Matthew 25, a transitional housing organization for people experiencing homelessness. As president of her high school’s service club, she worked alongside Metro Nashville Public Schools’ Homeless Education Resource Office. Her successful fundraising campaigns for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society and Multiple Sclerosis Society piqued her interest in nonprofits’ financial operations and managerial economics. She also helped start a free tutoring program to supplement online learning during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond her commitment to community service, she served as president of her school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter and captain of the varsity soccer and lacrosse teams. In her free time Walker enjoys the outdoors with her friends and dogs.


Maggie Palmer (865-974-3993,