Last Word — 10 May 2016
Scholarship, Service, and Dreams Fulfilled

By Hannah Robison
Photo by Steven Bridges

The University of Tennessee at Martin is truly what allowed me to reach my dream of becoming Miss Tennessee. Not only did this college environment encourage me to find the real “me,” it offered opportunities that other colleges could not. I can say this with confidence because I did not start off as a UT Martin student.

My decision to transfer to UTM as a college sophomore was one of the easiest I have ever made. It came after visiting my sister, Rachel, who attended the university at that time. As cliché as this might sound, I truly did find my home away from home at this university. Not to mention UT Martin’s department of chemistry—my chosen field—had an impeccable reputation.

As a woman aspiring to become Miss Tennessee, and potentially Miss America, I knew that I had to keep the most important cornerstones of the Miss America Organization at the forefront of my mind: scholarship and service. UT Martin allowed me to do this by giving me innumerable community-service opportunities, as well as ways to maximize learning opportunities. Together, these are what catapulted me to achieving my dream.

The chemistry department at UTM allowed me to find my love for and future in teaching through a general chemistry teacher’s assistant position, and it allowed me to find my heart for devoting my spare time to raising funds and awareness for the Arthritis Foundation. As a member of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority, whose national philanthropy is the Arthritis Foundation, I found my Miss America platform, Campaign Against Pain: Arthritis Awareness. The opportunities that UT Martin Greek life has given me allowed me to raise more than $29,000 for this cause and allowed me to take home an additional $4,000 in college scholarship dollars from the Miss America competition because of my involvement with the Arthritis Foundation.

Through competing in the Miss Tennessee and Miss America Scholarship competitions, I have been awarded more than $46,000 in college scholarship money. This will allow me to graduate from UT Martin in 2017completely debt free and allow me to begin pursuing a master’s degree. While, as Miss Tennessee, I have had to defer my university education for an entire year to work as Gov. Bill Haslam’s official spokesperson for character education, I now know I can graduate with no student loan debt. I also can return to UT Martin with new relationships I wouldn’t have if not for my year as Miss Tennessee.

I can never truly repay UT Martin for the experiences I have been provided, the relationships made available to me and the education I will take away with me.

Thank you, UT Martin, for making my decision to transfer there so easy, for giving me all the tools I needed to make my dream of becoming Miss Tennessee a reality, and for giving me the confidence in my education that I need to be successful in the future.

Hannah Robison is a chemistry major at UT Martin and is the currently reigning Miss Tennessee.

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