Pilkington completes outstanding college career

Several of UT Martin’s recent graduates had outstanding college careers and are moving on to even greater adventures. One of those is Faith Pilkington of Ripley.

Pilkington graduated with a degree in political science and philosophy and will attend Vanderbilt University Law School in the fall.

She said she was told that once you go through law school, you figure out which branch of law you want to get into.

“I want to be an attorney – more so for civil cases,” she said. “I know I don’t really want to do criminal law. I’m also more interested in litigation vs. transactional law, so I’d like to be in the courtroom. I’m big on representation for people who don’t have the resources to get the best legal representation, especially because civil suits don’t have an appointed attorney from the government for that.

“I’d like to stay in Tennessee, hopefully in Nashville; we’ll see. I’m kind of a home-grown Tennessee girl, and I’d kind of like to stay here if I could, so hopefully, it works out that way.”

Pilkington said that one of her dream jobs would be to serve as the White House press secretary.

Pilkington had a fulfilling academic career while at UT Martin, taking part in the Student Government Association (SGA) for four years and serving as its president for the 2023-24 school year.

She was one of three students to earn the Spring 2024 Paul and Martha Meek Award, given for outstanding leadership, and was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha, the Student Alumni Council and the University Scholars Program.

“I just really like to be involved on campus,” she said. “That was something I started doing my freshman year, and I never regretted it because it gave me so much more to my experience. I made more friends and connections – it was a really good opportunity.”

Pilkington said being the Student Government Association president has been a great experience in many aspects.

“It’s been great to get a bunch of students together who all have these great ideas for campus and see what we can do to make them happen,” she said. “Also, just being the person that people know – ‘If there’s something going on, I can talk to her.’ Knowing that people feel comfortable enough to do that, that means a lot to me, and it makes me feel proud for the things we did this year.”

Pilkington said one of the best things the SGA did this year was to help funding for student organizations. That started by helping to pay for catering and other food-related needs for campus events.

“Another highlight would be working with the committee to talk about increasing the student worker minimum wage,” she said. “That was a great thing to get to work on, and that’s going to come into fruition soon.

“I think the work we did all year trying to implement that study day back into the calendar was good. Ultimately, it didn’t pass this year, but hopefully, in the years to come, there will be a discussion again. I think everybody put in a good effort and started a conversation.”

Throughout her work in the Student Government Association, Pilkington worked with three different people in the chancellor’s office: Dr. Keith Carver, who accepted a position at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture effective March 1, 2023; Dr. Philip Acree Cavalier, the current provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs who served as the interim chancellor; and current Chancellor Yancy Freeman, who began his duties Aug. 9.

Pilkington said that having those transitions with different people as chancellor did not disrupt the communication between the Student Government Association and the chancellor’s office.

“I never had any roadblocks in getting anything done,” she said. “I think it was more like, ‘These are new people we’ve got to get to know and work with.’ We all had the shared goal of giving the students a good campus experience, so it was a pretty smooth transition. Dr. Carver was great, Dr. Cavalier was great, and we’re all lucky to have Dr. Freeman.”

Pilkington said that staying so active with campus organizations and maintaining a good grade-point average is something you have to plan for.

“It all depends on what you want to prioritize,” she said. “I knew, coming into college, that I wanted to be even more involved than I had been in high school.

“I just wanted to make the most out of the experience, so I just joined all these clubs, and it helped me to have a better experience, especially given the circumstances. I think, though, that I saw how much of a benefit it is and how enriching it is to be involved in so much and be able to give back.”

Pilkington said she never regretted coming to UT Martin for her undergraduate degree.

“For me, the people here have really become my family,” she said. “And, I think, being in a small school in a smaller community really helped my experience. “You’re more than just a number here, and I think that really helped my experience. Everybody here has really helped me get where I am, and I don’t think I would be there without UT Martin.”

Photo: UTM Student Government Association President Faith Pilkington stands next to Chancellor Yancy Freeman May 4 before delivering a speech at the UT Martin commencement ceremony.

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