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Carl Cowan Scholarship 2014-2015 Recipients

Na’Sha Austin
Class of 2017
Biology/Pre-Med Concentration
Hometown: Memphs, TN

“I am a freshman from Memphis, Tennessee planning to major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with a concentration of Pre-Medicine. With the inspiration of my determined and dedicated parents, Catrina Austin and William Austin 111, I have come to the conclusion that the medical field is the career option I’m most passionate about. I plan to pursue a career in the medical field because I enjoy helping others in any way possible, especially children. As a medical professional, I can help them overcome illnesses or even discover a cure for one. I recently began to seek out research opportunities shadowing faculty to explore that option within health and medicine.

“Just a year ago, I graduated as the valedictorian of Frayser High School in Memphis, Tennessee. I am an active member in the Educational Advancement Program, First Generation Mentoring Program, and UT LEAD program. So far, I have earned a 3.85 GPA and a spot on the Dean’s List in my first semester and received a perfect attendance award from one of my professors. I also plan to follow through with my initiation to become a member of the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society Incorporated on April 1 3, 2014. With these goals and accomplishments thus far, I will continue to work hard and always remember my mother’s words, ‘Anything is possible as long as you continue to strive for nothing but the best!’ ”

India Green
Class of 2017
Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology/Pre-Med
Hometown: Chattanooga, TN

“l always thought people knew who I really was, but when I directly asked them, the responses that I received were a bit surprising. My friends described me as being social, teachers as embracing academics and my mother as exhibiting responsibility. Though all of these qualities are complimentary, I seem to look at myself in a different way. I’ve had the opportunity to experience life in ways that many others haven’t, and because of those experiences, I describe myself as having passion.

“Because of my mother’s job, I have had a childhood that is anything but ordinary. My mother is a flight attendant for Delta Airlines, and she has always aimed to expose me to the world. In 2010, I boarded a plane to Beijing, completely unaware and unprepared for the eye opening experience that I was about to encounter. I left the comforts of my American, middle-class environment and for the first time experienced the reality of the world around me. I’d seen the starvation on commercials and read of foreign poverty in my classes, but I’d never understood it until I could actually hear, see, and smell those suffering all around me. I cried for the children of Beijing, but I knew my tears wouldn’t change their fate. That’s when I decided that I had to make a change in myself in order to make a difference.

“Once I returned from Beijing, I wondered what a 15 year old student could do to help children thousands of miles away. Thankfully, I knew the first step was becoming informed about the situation at hand before any action could take place, so I enrolled for the Global Issues class my sophomore year. That class not only expanded my knowledge of the world but also allowed me to make change in the lives of the children in Beijing by starting a Fair Trade Club with my classmates.

“Being in the club satisfied me for a little while, but I knew I could do more as the strong memories of the poverty that I had witnessed continued to linger in my mind. In response to my desire, I joined the school’s Amnesty Club. I knew that this was the organization for me because my strongest desire is to ensure the rights of people, especially children. As a result of my involvement during my junior year, I was the Amnesty Club president for my senior year. I still have similar goals in mind, and with the help of other club members, I know that we can make a difference in our community that will benefit children everywhere.

“What started as an interest turned into a passion, and now it is continued action. My peers, educators and family were right: using my academic abilities, I have developed a passion for social responsibility, and I know this is just the beginning. For me, actions speak louder than words. I’ m not kind, caring and compassionate because I say it; I’m kind, caring and compassionate because I act.”

Xylina Marshall
Class of 2016
Italian and World Business
Hometown: Newport, AR

Xylina Marshall is a sophomore at the University of Tennessee hoping to pursue degrees in Italian with an International Business concentration and Psychology. Xylina is originally from Newport, Arkansas, a small town in which she first encountered her love for both people and service. At UT, Xylina has pursued these passions through both service and leadership. Xylina served as an orientation leader for the class of 2013, an experience which she truly feels embodied the meaning of servant leadership and has helped her to decipher how best to serve her community.

Currently, Xylina is serving as a Leadership and Service Ambassador working to educate and engage the university community on how to lead and serve. Xylina specifically enjoys the amount of service this position provides and the opportunity to truly serve the campus and greater Knoxville community simultaneously. Xylina has found a true home in the Chancellors’ Honors Program at the university and has served as a mentor, ambassador, and council member within the program.

Xylina loves the opportunity for discussion and true mixture of academia and fun she has found through the program. As Xylina moves forward in her undergraduate career she hopes to discover better ways of serving those around her and to leave the university better than she found it.

Jerika Norona, MA
Class of 2017
Clinical Psychology
Hometown: San Francisco, CA

Jerika Norona is a second-year Clinical Psychology doctoral student and conducts research in the Development of Adolescents and Young Adults (DAYA) Lab under the mentorship of Dr. Deborah Welsh. Her research focuses on romantic relationships in adolescence in emerging adulthood using mixed methodology. Furthermore, she conducts psychotherapy and psychological assessments with children, adults, and couples.

Jerika is from San Francisco, California, and she earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. During her last semester at UCSC, she was involved in the Filipino Student Association and specifically worked with high school students of color who were pursuing higher education.

Emily Starnes
Class of 2016
Psychology, with Biological Sciences Minor
Hometown: Longwood, FL

“During my senior year in high school, if somebody were to ask me if I was excited to begin the next phase of my life by going to the University of Tennessee. I would have undoubtedly said “yes.” A main reason was because of my great desire for more independence. However, I somewhat questioned my ability to achieve collegiate success. Since I have Sotos Syndrome, a genetic neurological condition, I felt the odds might play against me due to the coordination and social skills challenges that impact everyday life. Being from the Orlando area indeed meant independence, but it was a step out in faith since I knew very few people attending UT, and out-of-state tuition payments would definitely be a considerable issue. Nevertheless, I committed to our fine institution. packed my bags, and eagerly started the next leg of my journey.

“Fast-forward almost three years later to my junior year, and I found l have grown and thrived at the University of Tennessee. Pursuing a major in Psychology with a minor in Biology is providing a solid academic base that will hopefully allow me to pursue my goals of a master’s degree and career in genetic counseling. So far, so good, as I have done well in my classes and eamed placement on the Dean’s List, as well as have been inducted into three honors societies during my college tenure.

“Outside of academics. I have been involved in multiple student organizations, from activities with Kung Fu Club and Chi Alpha Ministries, to being a two-year member of The Pride of the Southland Band. The most personally meaningful pursuit for me, however. has been serving as the Campus Disability Advocate’s Social Media Coordinator starting last semester, and being asked to serve on Vice-Chancellor Hall’s upcoming Student Advisory Council. These activities and more offered on our campus have helped me foster friendships and connections on cam pus and in the Knoxville area.

“As mentioned above, my academic aspiration and ultimate career goal is to be a pediatric genetic counselor. This occupation will allow me to develop relations with others who have hereditary conditions and their families, in order to help them cope with life’s obstacles. In this way I hope to be support for people like my family and me. To be a reassuring advocate on behalf of others, and to provide the tools needed to meet the challenges of living with a genetic condition with knowledge and resilience is my dream.

“Receiving UT’s Carl Cowan Scholarship is of great help in achieving this dream. The support to help cover the cost of out-of-state tuition for my fmal year in college will ease the need to secure further student loans. I look forward to continuing my education and taking advantage of all the University has to offer to become a well­rounded adult ready to meet the next part of the journey. I will always strive to represent this university to the best of my ability. utilize all UT has provided to benefit others.and promote diversity wherever God and my life take me.”