Volunteer. Leadership. Service. Those three words were spoken many times on Friday as more than a thousand UT students walked across the commencement stage in Thompson-Boling Arena to receive their diplomas.
Five students graduated December 13 with more than 225 hours of community service each, earning the gold service medallion awarded by the Jones Center for Leadership and Service.
Conny Sidi Kazungu remembers hearing her dad’s voice on the other end of the phone and exhaling. Only minutes earlier, she had heard the blast from her home. Suicide bombers in trucks parked outside the US Embassy in Nairobi had exploded, killing more than 200 people.
On November 15, the night before Garth Brooks’s sold-out concert inside Neyland Stadium, Ashley Humphrey stood a few feet away from the singer during his sound check, waiting to ask for a favor. “Garth, will you sign my graduation cap?” she shouted during a pause in the music.
From his first week on campus four years ago, Mustafa Ali-Smith had his mind set. He would become the first person in his family to graduate from college. But as important as succeeding academically was to him, he knew he wanted to do more, too.