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University of Tennessee graduates earn medals for giving back to community

Officials said that 66 graduates completed over 225 hours of service each — earning them a gold medallion.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It's graduation season in Tennessee, with in-person commencement ceremonies scheduled for this weekend. And while most students will receive degrees and diplomas, some students will also get gold medals for their work to give back to the community.

The University of Tennessee's Jones' Center for Leadership and Service honors graduates by awarding them with medallions. They are given out on a tiered system based on the number of service hours students log.

Anyone who logs more than 100 hours of community service hours while attending UT will get a medallion, officials said. They get a bronze medal for logging under 174 hours, a silver one for logging under 224 hours and a gold medallion for logging more than 225 hours of community service.

“The medallions are a small thank you to students who have been dedicated and committed to serving their community while here,” said Brooke Squires, a coordinator at the Jones Center. “Service is what makes Volunteers special, and our students definitely go above and beyond that call of action.”

Officials said 316 students received medallions this year, and 66 of them logged more than 225 community service hours. A list of students taking home gold medals can be found online.

“Being a servant leader is built upon the idea of serving one’s community, not simply being a volunteer. Serving involves a deeper connection and a long-term commitment to solving a problem and continuously contributing to society,” said Leah Caple, a Haslam Scholar.

She served with several organizations including Pond Gap Elementary School and Young-Williams Animal Center.

UT will give students a total of 4,825 degrees this year. Officials said 3,548 of those will be undergraduate degrees and 1,065 will be graduate degrees and certificates. They will also award 121 law degrees and 91 veterinary medicine degrees.

Five socially distanced commencement ceremonies will be held May 7 - 9 in Neyland Stadium for graduates.