The annual Scholarship Luncheon, held Friday, March 24, is a yearly celebration of University of Tennessee at Chattanooga student scholarship recipients and their academic achievements.
Hosted by the Division of Advancement, the luncheon brought nearly 200 people to the University Center Tennessee Room. The event provided an opportunity for students to thank their benefactors and for donors to get to know the students who benefit from their generosity.
“We’re here today because of each one of you,” said Kim White, vice chancellor for advancement and executive director of the University of Chattanooga Foundation. The Foundation awards over 1,700 scholarships and more than 40 professorships.
“This is one of the most meaningful events we have every year,” she said. “We get so much feedback from donors and students that it really is such a great experience to be able to meet each other, hear about student experiences and hear from donors about why they’ve given.
“To the scholarship recipients, we celebrate your achievements and we are so proud of you. And to our generous donors, we thank you for giving our students a competitive advantage and helping them to excel.”
Chancellor Steven R. Angle talked about the importance of students connecting with the donors impacting their educational journeys.
“Someone you don’t know was very generous to help you, and they didn’t even know who you are—but they wanted to make a difference in this world,” Angle said. “Their way to do it is by helping to support you and to open that door of opportunity so that you can have a more affordable educational experience.”
Roger and Claire Smith were selected to speak on behalf of the donors. The Smiths have been longtime donors to the University, supporting athletics through the Mocs Club, several colleges and different campus initiatives.
They recently created the Roger and Claire Smith Endowed Scholarship to benefit UTC students who attended Hamilton County Schools. In addition, they have also included UTC in their estate plans.
Both lifelong Chattanooga natives were awarded UC Foundation scholarships, making their education possible. Roger graduated from UTC in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and Claire graduated in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in education.
Coming full circle, Roger now serves on the UC Foundation Board of Trustees as its real estate chair. Claire serves on the UTC Alumni Board, currently as vice president but soon to be president-elect, and also is an official real estate partner for UTC Athletics.
The Smiths took turns in Q&A format, answering each other’s questions about how they arrived at UTC, memories of their time at the institution and what it means to be a donor.
“Show gratitude and worthiness by showing up,” Claire Smith told the students. “Do the hard work. Look for ways to help your fellow students give back to this community.”
“To be working with the UC Foundation after they financed our college education … it’s just a gift to be able to give back,” Roger Smith said.
Luncheon attendees were then treated to a video featuring five student scholarship recipients from across campus—Reuben Lowery, Jannat Saeed, Justin Strauss, Charlie Jeffries and Malik Norwood.
Lowery, a mechanical engineering major and member of the UTC football team, is the recipient of both the Parks McCall Memorial Athletics Scholarship and an FCA Scholarship.
“I’ve definitely grown and cultivated a relationship with the people around me, and that’s been through people impacting my life—such as the donors and people who supply these scholarships,” said Lowery, a senior from Powder Springs, Georgia. He has played in 21 games for the Mocs and earned academic all-district honors in 2022.
“I would first say thank you and that we’re very grateful for what you’re doing. You are changing young people’s lives.”
Saeed is a William E. Brock Scholar in the Honors College. The junior is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in software systems, international studies, political science and history.
Last month, the Cleveland (Tennessee) High School graduate learned she would spend the summer at Princeton University after being awarded a Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute Fellowship.
“The (Brock Scholar) title itself holds a lot of power,” Saeed said. “Here at UTC, I get to stand out because we’re given these opportunities and we have these resources where they want to highlight people. They want to give them more opportunities.”
Strauss, a freshman finance major from Knoxville, is a Rollins Scholar in the Gary W. Rollins College of Business.
“On top of the financial package, we have so many connections,” Strauss said. “We’re meeting with professional and business leaders across Chattanooga. I’m in a cohort with 20 other students. That sense of camaraderie; we’re living together, working together. It’s not just school. It’s going to prepare me for the professional world.”
Jeffries is the beneficiary of a Paramedical Careers Scholarship in the DNP Nursing Nurse Anesthesia program.
“I’m just very grateful to be here at UTC and have this opportunity to become a CRNA,” Jeffries said. “I’m very appreciative of receiving this scholarship. Without their generosity, I don’t think it would’ve been possible where I could have just focused in on school as much as I did.”
Norwood is a music composition and music education major and the recipient of the Edmonia J. Simmons Scholarship.
The sophomore, a graduate of East Hamilton High School in Ooltewah, will be premiering a pair of compositions at the upcoming Campus Composers Concert on Monday, April 3, at the UTC Fine Arts Center.
“I’m glad that the faculty liked me enough to hand me that award because I was unsure about my whole path at the very beginning,” Norwood said, “but then I started taking lessons with Dr. (Erika) Schafer. She asked me to be in a trumpet ensemble and then I joined the pep band.
“Getting that scholarship cemented the fact that there was always a community presence.”