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Courage to Climb Award Winner – September 2015

The Division of Student Life would like to congratulate Willie Kemp on being selected as the winner of the September 2015 Courage to Climb Award!  Willie is a senior from Gallatin, Tennessee majoring in Materials Science and Engineering.

During his time at UT, Willie has been very engaged in all aspects of academic and student life.  He has been highly involved in his major through many research projects, including most recently researching 3D printed high performance magnets while he was interning at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory this summer.  Willie was also involved in the creation of the Leadership Studies Minor that just launched this fall.  In speaking about Willie’s dedication to research and leadership studies, his nominator said, that his passion “truly comes from his desire to make the world a better place for all people.”

In the spirit of making the world a better place, Willie has been quite active in terms of community service and leadership development during his time at UT.  He has volunteered at various places, including the Pond Gap Elementary School, Humane Society, and his hometown church’s youth group.  Last year, Willie collaborated with another student to spearhead an animal goods drive for the Human Society, which took over two and a half months to successfully plan and execute.

A common thread throughout all of his leadership positions and experiences has been to help further the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students at UT.  As a leader, he has been involved for two years as an Ignite Team Leader for Summit and Serves, Leadership Knoxville Scholars, and, this year, he serves as a mentor in the Multicultural Mentoring Program (MMP) and Minority Enhancement for UT (ME4UT) Program.  Although Willie was unsuccessful in his campaign to run for Student Services Director last year, he said that he learned a great deal about his leadership purpose and vision to create a more diverse and inclusive experience for all students and, therefore, he is “focusing his efforts on building up the next generation of student leaders” this year through his involvement with MMP and ME4UT.  As his nominator put it, “Willie gives people hope.  He shows people what it means to be selfless, thoughtful, embrace diversity and inclusivity, honor and respect superiors, and show kindness… Through his campus involvement, as well as community involvement, he has displayed what it means to be a Tennessee Volunteer… He is a true Torchbearer.”

A proud “Vol4Life” who truly lives the Torchbearer’s Creed, Willie said that no matter what the situation may be—whether good or bad—saying “Go Vols” is always the best response.  Congratulations on receiving the Courage to Climb Award, Willie!  We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.  And, of course, GO VOLS!