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Fall 2017 Newsletter

Welcome from the 2017-2018 President

Thank you for taking the time to read our inaugural Student Government Association at the University of Tennessee alumni newsletters. Throughout our 97 years as an organization, we have accomplished so much, and I am proud to highlight some of those accomplishments in these updates.

The purpose of this newsletter is, as a student government and a university, to connect to our past so we can look to the future together. We are approaching 100 years of serving the student body, and that is an accomplishment in itself. We have served students for 97 years, have over 400 members yearly, and have hundreds of  alumni. In the past, we’ve made big changes like implementing the technology fee and advised the construction of  the new Student Union. This year, we started a professional clothing closet on campus, collaborating with faculty to save students one million dollars in textbooks, and much more.

We have accomplished a lot in 97 years, but we have so much more work to do. I look forward to keeping you updated with our accomplishments this year, so be on the lookout for more updates this winter. If you feel so inclined, please send this letter to other SGA alumni who would be interested in keeping up with what today’s students are doing as well.

Go Vols,

Morgan Hartgrove

17-18 Student Body President


100 Years of SGA

1919 marks a significant date in the history of the University of Tennessee. Nearly a hundred years ago, students succeeded in creating the All-Students Club. Forty-three years later, this organization became the Student Government Association, and we’ve continued to maintain an influential presence on UT’s campus ever since. Thanks to past and present members of SGA, we’ve made strides in preserving the organization’s rich history. From advocating for a new student union to starting All Vol Tailgates, we have so much to be proud of  as an organization. As we approach 100 years of SGA, we want to take this time to reconnect with alumni to and prepare for our centennial celebration.


Faces of SGA

Morgan Hartgrove is from Maryville, TN, and she is a senior in the College Scholars Program studying Health Policy and Public Health. Morgan serves as the Student Body President, and is anticipating a year of positive, effective change by working with the executive cabinet and seeing SGA initiatives come to fruition. As for her goals this year, she wants  to save students one million dollars by using Open Educational Resources and promote the Volunteer spirit by allowing students to use community service to pay for parking citations. “I look forward to starting initiatives that make being a student at UT a little easier and a little more fun. I plan to take the time to seek out the students’ opinion so we ensure we are representing students to the best of our ability.”


Michael “Mickey” Curtis is a senior majoring in Nursing and minoring in Leadership Studies from Memphis, TN. He serves as the Vice President of the Student Body and cannot wait to have many conversations with students to learn their stories. In order to better reflect the campus community, Michael’s goals for the year are to increase the involvement of students of all identities and backgrounds in SGA. In addition, Michael wants to work on the creation and establishment of monuments for the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) and Multicultural Greek Council (MGC). “Students are the number one priority, and SGA should take the stance to ensure comfortability and easy maneuvering of the campus community—we must make this happen.”


Hunter Jones is a senior studying Animal Science from Lafayette, TN. He is serving as our Student Services Director and is looking forward to making practical and engaging changes for the student body. With his inquisitive leadership style, Hunter will actively question the status quo to be more effective and efficient in all endeavors of SGA. Overall, Hunter plans to utilize his experience in student life to assist in accomplishing the mission of the Student Government Association. “I bring strong knowledge of the student experience that includes social involvement, student life, campus safety, and university services. My contributions extend to utilizing these experiences as a way to create a better university for all.”


Alumni Spotlight

Jake Baker, Student Body President 2013-2014

How were you involved with SGA?

I served as Student Body President during the 2013-2014 school year. Before that, I was involved in First-Year Council, Senate, and the Government Affairs Student Services committee.

What was your favorite part about being in SGA?

The people you get to work with are the best part of SGA. Through SGA I had the opportunity to meet not only other students, but also members of faculty and staff that are working to try to make UT a better place. There is no shortage of the Volunteer spirit in Knoxville, and I got to experience that first hand through my work in Student Government.

Favorite SGA memory?

Big Orange Friday began during my senior year. The SGA Traditions Committee worked with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Athletics to get students invested in wearing orange every Friday. It was a great way to get people excited on Rocky Top, and it showed how SGA could connect students with administration in a fun way.

Most rewarding part?

It was very rewarding to see the next generation of student leaders get involved in SGA. Many students get involved in Student Government during their first few weeks on campus and it was exciting to see them take on new leadership positions throughout their time at UT. SGA cannot accomplish everything in a single school year, so it was rewarding to help foster the initiatives of former students while helping the next generation grow as leaders.

What do you miss the most about being in SGA?

I met some incredible people during my time in SGA. This organization attracts students who believe in servant leadership, and I enjoyed the opportunity to give back to UT with some great friends. Once you’re a Vol, you’re a Vol for life, but I miss being on campus every day and brainstorming ideas in the SGA office over Chick-Fil-A.

How was SGA beneficial to your post graduation professional success?

SGA was very beneficial to my post-graduation success. SGA teaches you about professionalism, public speaking, and project management. I know work in government, so my time advocating for UT at the state-level has been very valuable in my professional development. My work now focuses on education policy, which is an interest that came from my time at UT.


Alumni Spotlight

Michael Chirico, Student Body Vice-President, 2006-2007

How were you involved with SGA?

I moved to Knoxville from my hometown of Huntington, WV, and my involvement with SGA began almost immediately. During the first weeks of the fall semester, I signed up and interviewed for Freshman Council. I remember how honored – and excited – I was to be selected, and it truly was the beginning of something great. Little did I know then that I would end up meeting my best friend and eventual running mate, Kristi Bogle, who was also chosen for Freshman Council that year.


After that, I participated in SGA in various capacities; one year, I served as Sergeant-at-Arms in the Student Senate, which I thoroughly enjoyed. My junior year, Kristi approached me about creating a ticket comprised of like-minded students with the two of us running for SGA President and Vice-President, and I said yes to one of the most challenging and rewarding learning experiences of my life. That’s how “eXcel” was born, and of course I am biased, but I believe that the eXcel campaign brought an incredibly special group of students together and built relationships that I cherish to this day.

What was your favorite part about being in SGA?

One of the great things about UT is that students can show up on a huge campus and find their niche – SGA was my niche. I loved everything about SGA: the campaign, the Student Senate process, the camaraderie, the very hard work and long hours we put into it, the relationships we built with administrators and staff, and the opportunity to learn so much about the diverse groups of people and activities at UT. And all of that happened to be a tremendous amount of fun!

Favorite SGA memory?

There are too many wonderful memories to choose one favorite, but my running mate loves to share this story about Freshman Council: “At one of our first Freshman Council meetings, we were choosing officers. Anyone who was interested in running had an opportunity to make their pitch, and I will never forget Michael’s. He stood up and talked a bit about his hometown, what brought him to UT, and the activities he participated in during high school. As he wrapped up his speech, he opened his button-down shirt to reveal a t-shirt underneath with a graphic of a horse’s head on it and said, “Vote for me – the Italian Stallion!” Everybody loved it, although I must say that I can’t remember what the outcome of that small race was, and we ended up having a blast that year. We became a close-knit group, and I have very fond memories of each person that served with us on Freshman Council.”

Most rewarding part?

My SGA experience was extremely rewarding, but what stands out to me more than anything else is the relationships I forged while serving in SGA. I made life-long friends at UT, and we went through some pretty high-intensity moments together. Anyone who has worked on an SGA campaign at the University of Tennessee will know exactly what I mean. Recently, I was visiting Nashville, and we had an impromptu “mini-reunion” with some eXcel veterans. One person shared with me that getting involved with our campaign changed the trajectory of his entire life. He found his niche with our campaign, he made friends he still has to this day, and he learned how to serve and make a difference in his community. He is an incredible person, and I was so touched by his words.

What do you miss the most about being in SGA?

I miss Mary Malachis, our administrative assistant, who has since retired. She was the glue that held the office together, and it was such a privilege if your picture made it on to her wall. I miss our leadership team and the people that made our administration click. More than anything, I miss the students and the atmosphere. UT is a special place.

How was SGA beneficial to your post-graduation professional success?

I have the honor of serving as Deputy Chief of Staff for Congressman Evan Jenkins in the Third Congressional of West Virginia, and what I learned running a campaign and shaping an administration during my time at UT informs my approach to decisions I make on a daily basis in my office. SGA emphasized the principle of “service above self,” which is always in the back of my mind as I work to make a difference in the lives of our constituents.


Initiative Spotlight

Here at the University of Tennessee, our Student Government is all about embodying the Volunteer spirit and serving our students to the fullest extent. One of the many ways we do this is through our initiatives. In the past, our Student Government has fostered many successful initiatives that have benefited students, faculty members, and the University as a whole. The impact of former initiatives can still be seen on campus today. An example of this would be the university’s technology fee that was initiated  in 1996  by Jason Little and his administration and implemented through James Kirkland’s administration. Each year the money raised from this fee is used to improve resources for students, faculty, and university facilities. Because of this, students have access to basic computing programs like Microsoft Office and access to Canvas, an online tool used by faculty to post additional resources, homework assignments, and announcements. Aside from benefitting individuals, this fee is used to update technical equipment that benefits campus as a whole, such as central computing server facilities. It is also used in individual colleges, recently the College of Nursing and its improved healthcare technologies to insure accurate and beneficial training so that our students are prepared for real world application.


One initiative our current Student Government has dedicated itself to is the improvement of Smokey’s Closet. Smokey’s Closet is a collaborative effort by the Center for Career Development, the Student Government Association, and Student Disability Services to ensure that all students have access to professional attire. Throughout the summer months, clothes are received by donation. After a majority of donations are completed they are cleaned and sorted to prepare for “Pop-Up Shop” days which are hosted a few times each semester. On these days, students who need professional clothing are urged to come in to be fitted and receive professional clothing free of charge. This clothing can be used for internships, job interviews, or other appropriate situations. While the students receive their clothing, faculty from the Center of Career Development are available to review students’ resumes and help them create a Hire-A-Vol account which can be used to gain attention from potential employers. Currently, the closet is partnering with big box retailers like JCPenney to create student shopping days in which students will receive discounts up to 60% off on professional and formal wear. It is our goal to continue to help the closet grow and become a popular resource for students.

Member Spotlight

Maddie Stevens

Hi y’all, my name is Maddie Stephens and I am a junior, English major, excited for my third year on Rocky Top! I got involved with SGA my freshman year through First-Year Council. I was hesitant at first, coming in as an overwhelmed freshman unsure about my place at UTK. I almost didn’t apply but looking back I am so thankful I did. FYC helped me learn more about not only SGA, but our diverse UTK community. As I got more and more involved, I fostered great friendships and met some of my best friends, working with various branches and committees. Thanks to SGA, I found my footing on campus, gaining leadership experience and self-confidence. Today, I’m privileged to serve as a senator for the College of Arts and Sciences as well as the Co-director of Traditions, a student services committee that plans and hosts all sorts of fun, spirited events like Big Orange Fridays, All Vol Tailgates, and Creed Week. Traditions was my perfect fit, giving me even more opportunities to show off my beloved checkerboard overalls! My favorite thing about being a part of SGA is being able to serve my fellow students and make a difference on campus. I love Tennessee with my whole heart, so whether it’s spreading school pride through a fun new event through Traditions, or drafting formal legislation to fix a student concern, I hope to continue to strengthen our Volunteer family so everyone feels right at home!