Class of 2021 Celebrates with Senior Toast

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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Class of 2021 celebrated its Senior Toast on Friday, February 12, with a virtual night filled with words of reflection from students and administrators and trivia games with prizes. A total of 832 students registered for the event, and 321 of them made a Senior Impact Gift before or during registration.

The toast, which took place at 7:20 p.m. to a musical backdrop of “Rocky Top,” was presented by the UT Knoxville Alumni Board of Directors and Chancellor Donde Plowman. Senior Toast, now in its eighth year, celebrates the upcoming graduation of the senior class.

“Your college years are incredibly meaningful, and as they help you shape who you are, help find your purpose; as you leave campus you are equipped with knowledge and experience to move on into the world,” Plowman said during the toast. “It is my dream that each and every day that you’ve set food on this campus that we’ve taught you to be fearless, to have courage, to take risks, to be critical thinkers, to be empowered, and to believe that you are capable of incredible things.”
Karmen Jones, an English major in the Class of 2021, was the student speaker for the toast. The first female African American Student Government Association president at UT, Jones plans to attend law school after graduation and encouraged her classmates to consider how they might give back to UT in the future.

“Tonight, we get to connect together as a Class of 2021, smile at the season of life we’ve shared, and toast the years ahead,” Jones said. “I think you’ll agree with me when I say UT is a special place. It changes you; it challenges you. There are ups, and there are downs. Navigating this time in our lives at the University of Tennessee is a blessing, privilege, and an opportunity.”

Before the toast got underway, Peyton Manning (’97) surprised the class with a video appearance and congratulated the seniors on time well spent at UT.

“I am a proud Vol for Life, along with each of you,” Manning said. “When you first stepped onto campus, you became a part of our Big Orange family. You’re a student for a few years, but you will be alumni for life.”

Alumni Board of Directors President Phil Jacobs (’77) joined the Senior Toast and encouraged students to remain proud, involved, and invested as they progress in their lives and careers.

“Seniors, I’m so excited to be here with you tonight,” Jacobs said. “Senior Toast is always one of my favorite events of the year. I leave filled with optimism and excitement knowing that UT is in good hands with each of you.”

Senior Toast welcomes students to the alumni family and serves as the spring kickoff for the senior impact campaign, which is the university’s senior giving program.