One of the great things about the UT Alumni Association is its inclusiveness. If you attended UT (you don’t even have to be a graduate), you’re a member. The leaders of the association represent the breadth and diversity of UT alumni everywhere. Tennessee Alumnus introduces you to two of them.
Kino Becton (Chattanooga ’03) is young as alumni volunteers go. But he has wisdom beyond his years when it comes to service and leadership.
Becton is president of the Hamilton County UT alumni chapter, where he’s transitioned into a leadership role made familiar by two terms as student government president at UT Chattanooga. The Memphis native says it’s important for recent graduates to support the university.
“We can only make the university stronger by showing young people it’s worth it. My experience at UTC was so great that I wanted to get involved early in the alumni association.”
Becton says it’s true that many alumni who are active in the UTAA are “more mature” than he is. But that doesn’t change his desire to give back.
“Giving doesn’t have to be money. Young people who don’t have a lot of money can give time to the university. We need to be involved in some way, such as mentoring students or helping with student recruitment.”
The Hamilton County chapter is active in many ways, but Becton says he thinks the best thing the chapter does is its annual honors dinner, where the county’s premier high-school juniors are encouraged to go to college in Tennessee.
“We don’t specifically say ‘you should go to UT,’ ” Becton says. Rather, the message focuses on keeping Tennessee’s best minds in Tennessee.
“We say, ‘You’re the best of the best, and the best place for you is here.’ ”
Becton is a staff assistant to U.S. Representative Zach Wamp in Chattanooga. He recently earned a master’s in criminal justice and plans a career in public service. He credits UTC for giving him a solid foundation.
“Everything I learned, I’m using every day.”
Marty Begalla got involved with the UT Alumni Association by serving on the organization’s Women’s Council. That’s where she got her start, but today her UTAA work has expanded beyond the council, which works to involve women and promote them for leadership positions.
Knoxvillian Begalla says the association is a great group of people. “Alumni work is one of the most enjoyable things I do.”
Begalla (Knoxville ’76) was an assistant dean of women at UT Knoxville in the 1970s. She went on to work with TVA and Baptist Health Systems before retiring 7 years ago. Retiring from full-time work gave her more time to devote to UT.
“Next to your family and your church, I think where you went to school has the strongest effect on your life,” she says. “UT prepared me for wonderful career opportunities, and I think it’s important for me to give back.”
Begalla serves on the UTAA executive committee and the new Strategic Planning Committee. She is a former chair of the Women’s Council and chaired the committee that selects the faculty members who receive the annual UTAA Outstanding Teacher Awards.
“These awards are for good classroom teaching. Anyone can nominate a faculty member, and then the committee narrows the nominees down to 10. The members of the committee do actual classroom observations to select the winner.”
Begalla says sitting in on UT Knoxville classes convinced her that the university has a great faculty and that the quality of students has increased tremendously.
“Observing the faculty and students is so inspiring. It really makes you want to give.”