April 12, 2007
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Each year the University of Tennessee recognizes outstanding students who best represent the university by naming them honorary Torchbearers. Torchbearers are chosen based on their commitment to leadership, academics, their community and peers. At the Chancellor's Honors Banquet on Wednesday, senior swimmer Ashley Yeager was named as a Tennessee Torchbearer.
"The coaches have been really supportive of the choices I have made and all the academic and community service projects I have pursued over the past four years," Yeager said. "They have always tried to find a way to make everything fit in to my schedule and work out. I appreciate their help and the help of the entire athletic department and my professors."
Yeager (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) is a 4.0 student in the Journalism and Electronic Media program. Her interest in science writing has led her to an internship with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a position as the assistant news editor of the Daily Beacon, and a regular contributor to the science section of the Knoxville News Sentinel. She recently was one of only seven students accepted into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's science journalism program.
"Ultimately, I would like to work for one of the national science magazines like Discover or National Geographic," Yeager said. "Or even one of the other publications that focuses on presenting science in a way that the public can understand it."
Yeager's resume includes numerous community service projects and academic awards. She currently serves as the Cancer Survivorship Co-Chair for the Relay for Life executive committee and as the president of the UT chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Since her time at Tennessee, Yeager has participated in the Diabetes Walk, Race Against Racism, Adopt-A-Stream, Boo at the Zoo!, Angel Tree, Race for the Cure, and April Play Day for the Knoxville Boys' and Girls' Clubs, to name a few.
"I don't know if I would have been as involved with the community if I hadn't had those opportunities to do community service through the Thornton [Athletics Student Life] Center," Yeager said. "I think that through those opportunities is when I started to realize that I could make an impact on other people outside of the athletic world."
The long-distance swimmer has earned several accolades from the Southeastern Conference including being named to the SEC academic honor roll on numerous occasions and most recently to the SEC Community Service team. At UT, Yeager has been a member of the Lady Vol Academic Honor Roll and earned the Scholar Athlete Chancellor's Award. The senior is a UT Honors College Scholar and the recipient of the Helen B. Watson Student-Athlete Class Academic Excellence Award in 2006 and 2007. The Helen B. Watson award is given to the Lady Vol with the highest sustained Grade Point Average.
"The Helen B. Watson award is really an honor," Yeager said. "It is certainly a very important award because it recognizes that we are scholar athletes. I think that is something we can take for granted sometimes because we are so focused on athletics. It is important to have the athletic department recognize academic achievement."
One of Yeager's most exciting experiences came last year when she was one of 18 recipients of the Nissan-World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Environment Leadership Award. The honor included a $5,000 cash award, an invitation to participate in a four-day environmental conference in Washington, D.C., and a research expedition to South Africa.