The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s four newest Peyton Manning Scholars were honored along with their families at an event on Aug. 29 where they met the namesake and benefactor of the scholarship. This year’s first-year student recipients — Ellie Housley, Ariel Thompson, Coleman Bain and Ava Foley — were honored by Manning and Chancellor Donde Plowman for their exceptional record in academics, community service and leadership.
The new group brings the total number of recipients to 57 since Manning first endowed the four-year scholarship in 1998. These students are also part of the university’s prestigious Haslam Leadership Scholars program. At any given time, there are 16 recipients on campus, four in each class. Selection for the award is a highly competitive opportunity for some of UT’s brightest incoming first-year students.
At the reception, Plowman praised the accomplishments of the new Manning Scholars and thanked Manning for his long-standing commitment to making the scholarship possible.
“The Volunteer spirit is a simple idea, which is stepping forward with courage and being willing to act,” Plowman said. Turning to Manning, she added, “Thank you for all the ways you give back to the University of Tennessee through your time, gifts, advocacy and teaching. You’ve made an impact on the lives of so many students.”
Manning was introduced by Interim Vice Chancellor for Advancement Brian Broyles, who congratulated the recipients and said, “As a university we’re grateful for the support that Peyton has provided for this incredible program, and we’re honored he invests in our brightest students.”
Manning spoke to recipients about his passion for the university and how the Peyton Manning Scholars are a source of pride for him.
“The growth of this scholarship program means a great deal to me, not only in seeing how much students have appreciated the opportunity but also in witnessing your progress and success, both personally and professionally. I always look forward to the notes and the updates that I receive from former recipients, and ask all four of you to please do the same and keep me updated. My hope is the scholarship will help you achieve, learn, grow and positively impact others. When your studies on campus are complete, I hope you leave UT with the same passion for this great university that I have.”
The newest Peyton Manning Scholars are varied in their talents and ambitions. They all completed multiple Advanced Placement and honors courses, and they share a bond of excellence and love for UT.
Coleman Bain, a graduate of Lincoln County High School in Fayetteville, Tennessee, is majoring in mechanical engineering. In high school he participated in the Men of Virtue Youth Program as meeting leader, the First National Bank Youth Board as president, the Scholars’ Bowl as team captain, the tennis team as captain and Leadership Lincoln as president.
“I never imagined Peyton Manning would be such a significant supporter of my education,” Bain said. “To be honest, I’m still kind of reeling from the fact. So, Mr. Manning, I truly thank you for your generosity.”
Ava Foley, a graduate of Green Hill High School in Old Hickory, Tennessee, is a political science major. In high school she participated in the YMCA Center for Civic Engagement, Model United Nations, Youth in Government, student council, Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee and Her Drive, and she co-founded Mt. Juliet Teens for Change.
“Mr. Manning, thank you for your commitment to pay it forward to the next generation of UT students,” Foley said. “I hope to one day be able to emulate your kindness. Your generosity will make an immense impact on my education and help me participate in not only the Haslam Leadership Scholars Program but many other programs throughout my college career. It is a privilege I greatly appreciate.”
Ellie Housley, a graduate of William Blount High School in Blount County, Tennessee, is majoring in business management. In high school she participated in cheerleading as co-captain, HOSA: Future Health Professionals as president, the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honors society and the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy.
“Thanks to Mr. Manning’s generosity I’m able to truly focus on achievement without burden,” Housley said. “This scholarship will heavily influence my academic career and my time at UT, and I am so thankful for all the opportunities that it has already provided and will continue to provide.”
Ariel Thompson, a graduate of Middle College High School in Memphis, is a computer science major. In high school she participated in the Technology Student Association as president, the Student Government Association as treasurer and secretary, the National Society of Black Engineers as president and CodeCrew with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“Last summer I participated in a program at UT’s Tickle College of Engineering,” Thompson said. “My experience was very positive, with like-minded students working collaboratively with knowledge, multiple industry-leading professionals and a supportive environment. I knew then that I was at home. Mr. Manning, I am so grateful for your generous contribution to my educational journey.”
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