Breaking News
More () »

Knoxville teen becomes recipient of first-ever youth award for community work

On Jan. 16, 2023, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission will honor Tylan Baker, 17, with their inaugural 'Youth Award.'

KNOXVILLE, Tenn — Tylan Baker isn't one to rest on his accomplishments. In fact, he's not really one to rest, period. The 17-year-old from Knoxville keeps a schedule that would exhaust anyone. 

Baker is a student at Austin-East Magnet High School where he is a Project GRAD scholar with a 4.1 GPA and has perfect attendance, but these are only a drop in an already impressive bucket of accomplishments.

"I'm in Youth Leadership Knoxville, the Mayor's Youth Council," Tylan said. "I also volunteer with 100 Black Men of Knoxville." 

Credit: Tanisha Baker

He also works two jobs and is a recognized football player for the AE Roadrunner Football program (he was selected for the football season's 2022 All-Region and All-Region in academics).

Credit: Tanisha Baker

Tylan credits his mother Tanisha with motivating him to keep reaching for the stars.

"She sets a good example for me," said Tylan. "I bet you if you ask her colleagues, she's at work on time-- all the time, doing her hardest."

On January 16, 2023, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission will honor Tylan with their inaugural Youth Award to honor Dr. King's work promoting equality and non-violence.

"I feel like he set a good example for people of my color," said Tylan. "I try to take some of the messages that he's gave out to us as I feel like he gave them to us, and try to put them forth every day."

Tylan's mom, Tanisha, has also been recognized by the MLK Commemorative Commission. In 2020, they recognized her with a Service Award.

"I'm very excited that they have decided to honor youth and recognize the youth," said Tanisha. "I think that is something we need to do more of to encourage them, and really award them for their service, their commitment, and those that are really trying to invest in their future as well as the community."

Tanisha gives Tylan a lot of credit for working so hard to keep up with his school life, his volunteer work and social obligations.

Credit: Tanisha Baker

"I know it's a lot to navigate, but I hope it's planting seeds so that it opens doors for him in the future, that he sees how important it is to give back," said Tanisha. "That is something that I wanted to make sure as he's growing and thinking about himself, and his plans that he doesn't forget his roots and those that have poured into him. So I think that all that he's involved in are just pieces to the bigger puzzle. And they contribute to his life and hopefully encourage him to contribute back to others."

For Tylan, giving back to his community is something that doesn't just help the community but himself as well.

"These opportunities, the things that I'm doing, they really open up different doors... bigger doors that could help my future," said Tylan. "Helps you live the life that you want to live, as my mother tells me every day."

Before You Leave, Check This Out