Kelsea Koonce, of Dyersburg, and Hannah Bilger, of McKenzie, were recognized as the recipients of the Paul and Martha Meek Leadership Award during the University of Tennessee at Martin fall 2022 commencement Saturday, Dec. 10. The Paul and Martha Meek Leadership Award is presented to two graduating students who demonstrate outstanding campus and community service during their time at UT Martin.
Koonce, an agricultural business graduate, has been a leader from the start of her collegiate career. She served as a SOAR leader for student summer orientation and as a First-Year Initiative PEP leader for the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences. In addition to these roles, she volunteered with the National FFA Association and worked as a counselor for the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Agricultural Sciences where she supervised 32 high school students. Koonce has represented the student body on the UT Martin Advisory Board and as an ambassador for Agriculture Future of America.
“Throughout her tenure at UTM, Kelsea has sought out multiple opportunities for growth,” said Lindee McCurley, assistant director of the Boling University Center. “One of the many things that I admire about Kelsea is that she sought to use the opportunities given to her to lead and represent UTM both on and off campus.”
Bilger, a mass media and strategic communications graduate, made a sizeable impact in the two years she spent at UT Martin. As a transfer student, she has held leadership positions in Delta Sigma Theta, Women in Excellence and the Student Alumni Council. During her time at UT Martin, Bilger has been heavily involved with the student-lead campus radio station, WUTM 90.3 “The Hawk.” She ascended to the top position of leadership, program director, at WUTM during her senior year.
“If you know Hannah, you know how dynamic she is, and her leadership ability is easily detectable,” said John Abel, assistant vice chancellor of student affairs. “She has been involved and held leadership positions in multiple student organizations on top of being heavily engaged in the local community.”
Dr. Paul Meek served the UT Martin campus from 1934 to 1967 in the roles of executive officer, dean, UT vice president and chancellor. This award was originally established and funded by the three Meek children to honor their parents. The Paul and Martha Meek Leadership Award is the only award given each semester during commencement.
For more information, contact the UT Martin Office of University Relations at 731-881-7615.