Knotts fourth Lady Vol to earn The Torchbearer Award

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UT -- Chelsea Knotts, a senior member of the women's track & field and cross country teams, became the 24th athlete in University of Tennessee history, the fourth Lady Vol and third track & field athlete ever to earn The Torchbearer Award. She and six other honorees were announced as recipients of the prestigious award at the Chancellor's Honors Banquet on Monday night at the Carolyn P. Brown Memorial University Center.

According to the Chancellor's Honors website, The Torchbearer is the highest student honor conferred by the University of Tennessee. It is awarded for academic achievement and outstanding commitment to others as demonstrated by the student's various activities and significant contributions to the university and the community. Torchbearers are seniors who have served their Alma Mater with overall excellence.

Students chosen for this award embody the Volunteer spirit, displaying initiative and service in the best interest of both the university and their fellow student. Recognition as a Torchbearer reminds all students that those who bear the Torch of Enlightenment shadow themselves to give light to others.

Knotts, a native of Ripley, W.Va., is finishing her degree in biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology and owns a 3.89 grade point average. She is a member of the inaugural Haslam Scholars Program, the sole endorsed candidate for the Rhodes Scholarship and a Robert C. Byrd and National Merit Scholarship recipient. A four-year member of UT's cross country and track & field teams, she has made the SEC Academic Honor Roll three times.

Perhaps most noteworthy is her leadership of the recent Haslam Scholars Program's community service project. Knotts led hundreds of UT students in an effort to raise funds to end chronic homelessness, particularly in the Fort Sanders neighborhood. She began a running group for homeless men and women, organized a 5K benefit run, and regularly befriends people who are without shelter and stability. She possesses a level of empathy and determination rarely seen.

"Since Chelsea joined our team, she's always given to others, whether it's in recruiting, hosting events at her house for our team or helping out at the track when she was hurt and couldn't compete," UT Director of Track & Field/Cross Country J.J. Clark said. "Her character is unquestioned. She's done a conglomeration of community service projects for the homeless and other entities, including putting on a road race and giving the proceeds to a homeless ministry.

"She is always giving to others, and she's obviously a very intelligent young lady, as she is a Rhodes Scholar candidate. She's just a very, very good person with wonderful character. She certainly has added to the character and substance of our team, campus and city during her time in Knoxville."

Last week, Knotts was announced as UT's female nominee for the SEC Brad Davis Community Service Post-Graduate Scholarship, earning a $5000 scholarship for that distinction.

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