Via UT Media Relations
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — An exclusive club of current and past Tennessee students welcomed new members on Tuesday as four incoming freshmen were awarded the Peyton Manning Scholarship. With the induction of its newest members, the Manning Scholarship, which originated 21 years ago, has now been awarded to 37 UT Knoxville students.
Peyton Manning and Interim UT Knoxville Chancellor Wayne Davis presented Ford Brewer of Nashville, Tennessee, Kyler Groner of Morristown, Tennessee and Deanna Riley of Spring Hill, Tennessee, with plaques celebrating their academic achievements and efforts. Keri Burge of Madison, Alabama, was unable to attend the reception but is the fourth recipient of the 2018 scholarship.
“My hope is this scholarship will help them achieve, learn, grow and positively impact others and when their studies on campus are complete, that they too leave here with the passion for the University that I have,” Manning said.
The tradition of the Manning Scholarship began in 1998, when Manning decided to form an endowment out of the scholarship money that came along with his on-field awards. What started out as an annual recognition of one student has progressed to a ceremony that now features four recipients.
“We are very grateful to Peyton for his composure on the field, for the things that he has accomplished since that time and for the fact that he established this scholarship program,” Davis said. “And now we will have 37 that have received the Manning Scholarship. He’s continued to invest in the University and he’s such a great example of a student who went out and mastered his profession.”
The scholarship, which was sought after by approximately 450 applicants this year, covers nearly the full cost for tuition during the students’ time at Tennessee. The process by which the four students were selected was rigorous and thorough as they first had to be chosen as Haslam scholars.
“It’s an unbelievably selective process that they go through examining their participation, leadership and community involvement in addition to their academic achievements,” Tim Woods, Associate Director of Financial Aid and selection committee member, said.
All four recipients of this year’s scholarship demonstrated exceptional leadership and community involvement while maintaining spectacular academic records throughout their high school careers.
Brewer, a 2018 graduate of Montgomery Bell Academy, starred on the field in basketball and track and field and completed several honors and AP courses while also participating in the Red Poet’s Society Writing Club and Service Club. Brewer, who has a passion for English and neuroscience, has also volunteered at Preston Taylor Ministries since 2004.
“As I advanced in the selection process of the Haslam Scholars program, I realized that the opportunities available to me here in Knoxville through the program greatly outnumbered those at any prospective option,” Brewer said. “English and neuroscience may seem like an odd combination at first, but these are my passions. With the title of both Peyton Manning scholar and Haslam scholar, I look forward to working closely with my professors in both labs and the classroom, as well as the Pat Summitt clinic.”
For Groner, who captained Morristown-Hamblen West’s speech, debate and scholar’s bowl teams, the Manning Scholarship serves an opportunity to improve the community in a meaningful way. A member of the National Honor Society, Groner has a passion for making the world a better place and hopes do so as a political science and economics major.
“I hope that in whatever I do, I can eventually help others and create positive change in a similar fashion that Peyton Manning is doing today,” Groner said. “Additionally, I realize this scholarship is more than just a financial award, but also a responsibility and a call to action to be a selfless leader on campus who carries himself with humility, exudes kindness and respect in every situation and gives to others without expecting something in return. I plan on cherishing my time in Knoxville as a Tennessee Volunteer and a Peyton Manning scholar.”
Riley, who moved to Tennessee from South Carolina, found her enthusiasm for helping others find their voices after volunteering at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital. A graduate of Summitt Hill High School, she served as secretary for both the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society while spending time as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and The Well Outreach Food Pantry.
“I realize that I have an individualized purpose to help others be their best and ensure their voices and thoughts are respected,” Riley said. “I am fascinated with attending a university whose diversity and programs, thought processes and opportunities foster a platform on which I can flourish as a leader. I would like to say thank you to Mr. Manning for deciding to award us with this prestigious scholarship that is much more than a monetary award, but a gateway that will allow us to shine a light on others just as you have shined a light on us.”
For Burge, the Manning Scholarship allows her to pursue a major in biological sciences while also honing her skills as a leader. The Pope John Paul II Catholic High School graduate volunteered with numerous organizations, served as the chaplain for the National Spanish Honor Society and captained her varsity basketball team. She also led her sections of the concert and marching bands.