Alumni Chapters Invest in Local Students

Alumni Chapters Invest in Local Students

Scholarships have helped thousands of students enter the doors of all the University of Tennessee campuses. Alumni chapters across the state are helping ensure even more students are able to attend.

In 1997 the Davidson County alumni chapter started an endowment in the chapter’s name to help a student from the Davidson County area attend the UT campus of his or her choice. The first recipient was Hillsboro High School graduate Lisa DeBusk. Now 10 years later, DeBusk appreciates the significance of her scholarship and is returning the favor to the alumni association chapter that helped her by serving as its treasurer. “It means a great deal to me to volunteer for the alumni association. I love knowing that the events and work that the chapter does help to fund a scholarship that I was lucky enough to receive,” DeBusk says.

DeBusk, who graduated from UT Knoxville summa cum laude in May 2001, says the Davidson County scholarship gave her the extra support she needed to attend UT. “My father, Alan DeBusk (Knoxville ’69), passed away suddenly in my senior year of high school, and my family’s world turned upside down,” DeBusk says. “Financing for college suddenly became even more important. By receiving the scholarship, some of the financial burden was lifted.”

Attending UT had always been a dream for DeBusk, and she’s grateful the alumni association helped make her dream come true. “I was truly born and bred a UT supporter and fan, as my parents met while attending UTK,” DeBusk says. “I was ready and excited to attend classes on the Hill, join student groups, make lifelong friends, and get my degree from Tennessee.”

Since 1997 when DeBusk received the first scholarship, Davidson County has helped 11 students attend a UT campus. “I feel like I have a unique connection with the other Davidson County scholarship winners since I know firsthand how it helped me. It’s great to know each year the board [of the Davidson County chapter] is helping out other deserving individuals and allowing them to experience all the wonderful things UT has to offer,” DeBusk said.

Other UT alumni chapters across the state are joining Davidson County in creating a chapter endowment for students in their area. Recently members of the Memphis-Shelby County alumni chapter board of directors signed an agreement to establish the Memphis-Shelby County Alumni Chapter Endowed Scholarship.

“I can certainly vouch for the fact that scholarships of this sort are an incredible help to students, as the UT Alumni Association paid a large part of my college tuition,” says Tim Francis (Knoxville ’00), a member of the Memphis-Shelby County board. “It’s a major stress-reliever not to have to worry about how you’re going to pay for the next semester’s tuition, and it allowed me to focus more time on getting my engineering degree.”

The Hamilton County alumni chapter is also in the process of creating a scholarship for UT students in the chapter’s name. “I’m excited and pleased that the Hamilton County alumni chapter is moving forward to establish a scholarship in its name,” says Debbie Ingram, president of the UT Alumni Association and past Hamilton County chapter president. “I encourage all of our alumni chapters to look into establishing a scholarship. This is not only a great opportunity to help students in your area but also a great recruiting tool for our UT campuses.”

“We appreciate our chapters taking on this challenge,” says Lofton Stuart, executive director of the UT Alumni Association and assistant to the president. “This is a great way for our chapters to give back to their community and continue to spread the spirit of the University of Tennessee.”