The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Commission for Blacks


Summer Lead Institute Action Committee

2015 Gene Mitchell Gray Pioneer Award

Rilwan Balogun Kamille Cheatham Kierra Richmond Christopher Smith Laquesha Wilson

The Summer Lead Institute Action Committee, often known as “the committee,” is dedicated to access, advocacy, and representation of underrepresented students. The committee is composed of seniors Rilwan Balogun, Kamille Cheatham, Kierra Richmond, Christopher Smith, and Laquesha Wilson. It was formed last fall to engage with campus administration to help preserve UT’s Summer LEAD Institute. The group’s nominator said, “Words cannot describe how proud I am of Rilwan, Kamille, Kierra, Christopher, and Laquesha. They have truly been exemplary student leaders and pioneers to help make UT a better place for all.”

Previous Awardees

1998Gene Mitchell Gray
1999Spruell Driver, Jr. and Patricia Ann Littlejohn
2000Not Awarded
2001Omar Jackson
2002Sharon Rodriguez-Alicea
2003Sherica A. Matthews
2004Ronnie Clark, Jr.
2005Vanessa Larella Thomas
2006Jeffery Charles Cohran
2007Joseph McArthur Cole
2008Victoria Thomas
2009Quiteka L. Moten
2010Quineka Moten
2011Janay Bryant
2012Jayanni Elizabeth Webster
2013Melanie L. Barron
2014Brityney Jackson

Eric Stokes

2015 Hardy Liston Jr. Symbol of Hope Award

Eric Stokes

Eric Stokes is a committed and passionate diversity leader. As senior assistant director in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and program director for the UT LEAD Summer Institute, Stokes is focused on recruiting, enrolling, and retaining a diverse freshman class. But his commitment extends well beyond the admissions office. Stokes works with the Knoxville Area Urban League’s National Achievers Society, Project GRAD Knoxville, the Public Education Foundation in Chattanooga, Gear UP statewide, and other college readiness programs for students from underrepresented communities. His nominator said, “His stellar leadership and constant efforts to motivate students to form their own thoughts about social issues and expose students to cultural experiences outside of the norm have undoubtedly helped our Volunteer community.”

Previous Awardees

1998Hardy Liston, Jr.
1999James Pippin
2000Not Awarded
2001Dr. Ronald B. McFadden
2002Dr. Jane S. Redmond
2003Dr. Faye V. Harrison
2004Dr. Stan L. Bowie
2005Dr. George W. Harris, Jr.
2006Prof. Felicia H. Felder-Hoehne
2007Dr. Terry Lee Esper
2008Richard L. Bayer
2009Eric M. Stokes
2010David L. Fox
2011Leshaun D. Oliver
2012Charles Houston and Annazette Houston
2013Rosa Emory Thomas
2014Dr. Amadou Sall


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