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Austin-East students smile after receiving their surprise admissions offers. 

On Friday, Nov. 17, 12 Austin-East Magnet High School seniors took the stage in their school’s auditorium for what they thought was a student panel. Instead, they were surprised with admissions offers from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in front of their friends and families.

“I’m so shocked and super excited,” said Angeline Irankunda, who plans to study psychology at UT. “Being a Vol is so great, and I love the school spirit and being on campus. I definitely feel like Austin-East sets us up for success. It’s one of three Flagship schools in Knoxville, and we have programs like Project Excellence and Project GRAD for students to take advantage of.”

Austin-East 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-year students who graduate from a designated Flagship high school are eligible for the scholarship. Scholarships like the Flagship Scholarship present more pathways to a UT degree for students and reflect the university’s commitment to providing an accessible and affordable education to Tennesseans.

Students from Austin-East are not the only Knoxville-area students who were welcomed into the Class of 2028 with surprise admission offers. Twenty-five seniors from Central High School and 10 seniors from Fulton High School received a Big Orange welcome from university leadership and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at their schools earlier this week.

“There’s a reason folks get into college admissions, and it’s for times like this,” said Fabrizio D’Aloisio, associate vice provost for enrollment management and executive director of undergraduate admissions. “These kinds of events are a reminder of the impact we’re having on students — not just today but in their futures. Being a first-gen student myself, having the opportunity to celebrate with these scholars is truly special.”

Admitted Students

Twelve Austin-East seniors were surprised with their admissions offers in the school’s auditorium. Admitted students are:

  • Tylan Baker (business analytics)
  • Samuel Beaty (journalism and electronic media)
  • Shaniya Cherry (child and family studies)
  • Saevyon Cozart (business analytics)
  • Noah Djenini (business administration exploratory track)
  • Jamia Hackler (university exploratory track)
  • Jamya Hackler (psychology)
  • JaMya Hollis (psychology)
  • Angeline Irankunda (psychology)
  • Samyah McGhee (studio art)
  • Charleston Thomas (accounting)
  • Jaymee Walker (communication studies)

Twenty-five Central seniors received a Big Orange welcome. Twenty-two of the students were surprised in their school’s auditorium. Three students (DeFoe, Randolph and Rysewyk), were admitted on UT’s campus at the Jr. Miss Junior Achievement of East Tennessee event. Admitted students are:

  • Addison Brewer (elementary education)
  • Addison Collins (university exploratory track)
  • Grace Craft (aerospace engineering)
  • Oliver Dattilo (chemistry)
  • Hadlie DeFoe (university exploratory track)
  • Elizabeth Greene (music)
  • Holden Hackler (nuclear engineering)
  • Maddie Harvey (biological sciences)
  • Cadence Horner (sports management)
  • Quiara Houston (psychology)
  • Eleena Lawson (university exploratory track)
  • Megan Lett (university exploratory track)
  • Luke Mccluskey (graphic design)
  • Catie Padilla (political science)
  • Emily Piedot (kinesiology)
  • Jayden Randolph (social work)
  • Emma Riffey (psychology)
  • Allison Rogers (music)
  • Emerson Rysewyk (biological sciences)
  • Ebalyn Sellers (environmental and soil sciences)
  • Peyton Sharp (business administration)
  • Spencer Sherrod (computer science)
  • Rowan Smith (kinesiology)
  • Anna Swart (university exploratory track)
  • Elliott Wiggers (psychology)

Ten Fulton students were welcomed to Rocky Top during their classes. Admitted students are:

  • Keisha Brewer (pre-medicine)
  • Ella Byrge (marketing)
  • Maria Ana Domingo (history)
  • Jose Lucas Francisco (public health)
  • Sergio Gaspar-Manuel (communication studies)
  • Kameron Griffin (pre-law)
  • Henry Lubke (theatre)
  • Reese Reiley (political science)
  • Linsey Schultz (elementary education)
  • Francisco Sebastian (marketing)

Admitted students have until May 1 to confirm their enrollment.


Maggie Palmer (865-974-3993,