Every member of the UT community is familiar with the Torchbearer Statue in Circle Park on campus. This statue is a famous symbol for the university, bearing the Volunteer Creed, which reads, “One that beareth a torch shadoweth oneself to give light to others.” It also holds a torch whose flame never goes out.
The statue holds great significance at the university, and the award named after it is the highest honor any undergraduate student can receive at UT.
The Torchbearer is given to outstanding students who have used their talents and hard work to accomplish amazing things during their years at the university. One of the six students to receive the award this year is Taylor Boyer.
Boyer, a Knoxville native and senior marketing student with an international business collateral, has accomplished numerous feats in her time at UT. Her appreciation for the university is evident, and, being from Knoxville, she felt that her choice to attend the university was evident, as it was already home.
In her four years at UT she has been involved with numerous organizations.
From attending the Ignite Leadership Summit prior to her freshman year, to serving in the Student Government Association, to holding several different leadership roles within the Haslam College of Business, Boyer has dipped her toe in many corners of the university – and these are only a handful of her involvements.
Things came full circle when she was selected as a Haslam College of Business Smith Global Leadership Scholar, as this was what drew her to the business college in the first place before she decided on attending UT.
Further, Boyer has also studied abroad in Cuba, England and France through several honors programs.
Along with her many involvements and traveling abroad, Boyer decided to take things a step further – she founded and is the president of the up-and-coming Women of Haslam organization.
“I fulfilled a personal dream when I founded Women of Haslam in 2019, which is a women-in-business organization, open to business and non-business majors alike,” Boyer said.
The idea came to Boyer during her time with the Smith Global Leadership Scholars program in London, as she thought fondly of her peers and organizations back on Rocky Top.
“I really took what I had learned from being a part of a sorority, a business fraternity and the president of South Carrick Residence Hall and wished there was a similarly structured group, but one that was focused academically and professionally on women in business,” Boyer said.
When starting the organization, Boyer knew she wanted to emphasize that both business and non-business majors could join. She craved an inclusive and beneficial experience for all majors.
“It was important to the mission of Women of Haslam that all felt welcome to learn and grow together. I believe that everyone could benefit from gaining certain professional business skills, regardless of your major, so that’s why we made sure to include that in our mission,” Boyer said. “It was also valuable for Women of Haslam to maintain a UT focus, so we invited women as guest speakers or to lead activities who had a direct or supporting connection to UT. Role modeling goes a long way for students in helping them see the possibilities for their own career and life goals, and we have certainly had the opportunity to listen to many such women who were once students on our UT campus.”
Boyer mused over the memory of sitting in a hotel room in Italy during her time abroad – eating an exceptional to-go pizza and watching an Italian soap opera in the background – as she wrote the first draft of the constitution and mission statements for Women of Haslam.
The founding of Women of Haslam has had a profound effect on Boyer, and she has no doubt that the organization will continue to influence UT’s community after she graduates.
“With the leadership already in place to carry on, I am certain Women of Haslam will be a place where students can grow their leadership, professional and personal skills, as well as get to know other students they wouldn’t have met otherwise and add to their overall collegiate experience,” Boyer said.
One individual who has been personally impacted by both Boyer and Women of Haslam is sophomore business analytics student Paige Dierks.
“We’ve worked closely the past two years I’ve known her, and she has been such an inspiration and mentor for me,” Dierks said.
Dierks is especially proud of Boyer’s receiving of the Torchbearer award and thinks she is highly deserving.
“When I heard that there was a Torchbearer award, her name immediately came to my mind. She was so deserving of that award, as she is one of the most kind-hearted and sweetest people I know,” Dierks said.
Boyer said it was extremely humbling to receive the award, as she has always looked up to Torchbearer recipients during her time at the university.
“To me, being a Torchbearer means being recognized as someone who has given their all to the university, living out the Torchbearer’s Creed which we were taught at [freshman] orientation. That Creed means so very much to me, and as a member of the Volunteer Family, I know our Creed is a guidepost for so many of us on campus: faculty, staff, administration and students,” Boyer said. “I love being a Volunteer, and now to be selected as a Torchbearer is still surreal. I am excited to continue, and will forever be, an enthusiastic and intentional ambassador for the University of Tennessee.”
Additionally, Dierks emphasized Boyer’s accomplishments and spirit, and said that she will be greatly missed upon graduation.
“She always puts others before herself, goes the extra mile to get things done on time and truly embodies what it means to be a Tennessee Vol. … Taylor is seriously one of the most accomplished people I’ve come across,” Dierks said.
As for her plans after graduation, Boyer will be back on Rocky Top in the fall to attend the UT College of Law in August, and she hopes to attend a couple UT football games in the midst of her hectic law work.
In 10 years, Boyer still sees herself in the Scruffy City, but the sky is the limit.
“I would like my future self 10 years from now to be a resident of Knoxville and already a corporate General Counsel or a strong, contributing member to a legal team with a strong emphasis in business,” Boyer said. “Having said that, I am always open to where the corporate legal world may take me, but my heart will always be in Knoxville and at UT.”