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Student Life Hosts Summer Interns, Relaunches Vols in Student Affairs Program

This summer, the Division of Student Life hosted six interns through the Vols in Student Affairs Program. Through the internship program, these students were able to explore various aspects of the student affairs field and consider whether pursuit of a career in this industry matches their aspirations and personal strengths. 

“This is really an opportunity for students to get to know the student affairs field and how they might fit into this work,” says Chandra Myrick, associate vice chancellor for Student Life and one of the coordinators of the summer internship program. 

During the summer, these students visited Tennessee Technological University, Vanderbilt University and other neighboring campuses to learn about student affairs initiatives and impacts throughout Tennessee. They also participated in unique projects for each of the Student Life offices that served as hosts, working side-by-side with professionals in these spaces and learning about the rewards and challenges of their roles. 

“It’s really cool to get to be in meetings and share my perspective as a student, and see how my voice impacts programming,” says Genesis Nolan, one of the Vols in Students Affairs participants. “Seeing the ins-and-outs of how a program comes to life and being part of developing that for myself and my peers was a great experience that supported my growth.” 

In addition to the summer cohort, Vols in Student Affairs offers programming throughout the academic year for current UT students who are interested in working in the field. Each year, this cohort program will include opportunities to network with student affairs professionals, workshops and professional development that students in the program will complete together to facilitate growth and discussion, and pairing with an on-campus mentor who will meet regularly with their mentee. Students are matched with mentors in their areas of interest, like housing, basic needs, leadership, recreation, service, inclusive excellence, and more. 

Vols in Student Affairs is just one of several ways current UT students can pursue a career in higher education and student affairs. Many departments within Student Life offer internships, practicums, and graduate assistantships and the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences also houses one of the longest-running College Student Personnel graduate programs in the country. UT is a university on the rise and is producing the next generation of professionals and practitioners who will impact the college experience for future students. 

“At the end of the day, we are shaping the future of higher education,” adds Myrick. “The Vols in Student Affairs program is all about developing these students into caring and strategic leaders who will tackle challenges facing the student affairs profession in the future.”

Students interested in joining the Vols in Student Affairs program should complete a student interest form. UT staff who are interested in serving as a mentor should complete the mentor interest form

The month of October is also Careers in Student Affairs Month, and the Division of Student Life will be celebrating the field and its impacts all month through social media and other outlets. Interested students will have the opportunity to learn more about the Vols in Students Affairs program and join the cohort. 

Brown is a UT graduate student from Memphis, Tennessee, whose parents have instilled in him the power of community, the importance of education, and passing along the blessings you have received to others. Regarding the VSA internship, Brown states, “I hope to continue honing my leadership skills and learn more about the many programs on campus. There are so many resources at students’ disposal that oftentimes we don’t even get the opportunity to utilize them. This internship will introduce me to these offices and teach me the specifics of their work.”

Hagar is a rising senior at UT and hopes to work in student affairs in higher education after college. From the VSA program, she hopes to gain hands-on experience in the higher education field and further insight into what her career will look like.

Nolan is from Louisville, Kentucky, and is majoring in animal science with a bioscience concentration through the Herbert College of Agriculture. She is involved in multiple organizations across campus, including the co-ed service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, a senior peer mentor through the Multicultural Mentoring Program, and a member of the Emerging Leaders Cohort, as well as Leadership Knoxville Scholars. She is interested in working in student affairs in the future and is hoping to gain a better understanding of what students need from their campus in order to be happy and healthy, so they can succeed academically.

Sonnebeyatta is a senior at Northfolk State University and plans to pursue a master’s in urban affairs while working in housing and residence life after graduating. Sonnebeyatta hopes to gain new perspectives and experiences as well as increasing her leadership capabilities while interning at UT. Additionally, she hopes to become more confident with her voice and advocating for herself just as much as she advocates for others.

Warner is from Memphis, Tennessee, and is a rising junior at UT studying sociology on a pre-law track. Through this program she hopes to engage with campus partners and learn more about higher education while gaining experiences that help her to interact with individuals across campus. Warner is co-president of the Black Cultural Programming Committee which plans and executes large campus events to help promote and enhance African American culture on campus. She is also a director of diversity affairs in Student Government Association, a senior mentor in the Multicultural Mentoring Program, the vice president of People of Style and Education, a parking ambassador, and a general body member of the Black Student Union.

Watkins is from Memphis, Tennessee, and currently attends the University of Tennessee at Martin and is majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in graphic design. Through this internship, Watkins hopes to apply his diverse set of skills and passion to make a meaningful impact in higher education. He views this as an opportunity to gain invaluable real-world experience and develop as both a professional and an individual. Watkins is also an Eagle Scout.