Chelsea Knotts has things to do. Knotts graduated from the University of Tennessee in May with a degree in Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology.
She will begin medical school this fall at West Virginia University. Chelsea’s academic and athletic honors are staggering and impressive to say the least.
She has received The Torchbearer Award (the highest student honor at UT), Summa Cum Laude (for maintaining a GPA above 3.80), she was nominated for the Brad Davis SEC Community Service Award, she is a member of the SEC Track & Field Community Service Team, the Haslam Scholars Program, Chancellor’s Honors Program while landing on the SEC and Volunteer honor rolls among many others. JN recently spoke with Chelsea about her accomplishments and her future.
Q: What is it about running that drew you to it initially?
A: I was initially drawn to running because one day, my vice principal in elementary school and high school head cross country coach, Jack Yearego, saw me running outside one day. He called me into his office and said I should join the cross-country team in middle school. As a child, it felt good to be pulled into the principal’s office and not be in trouble for anything, so I was flattered. I began running on the cross-country team in 6th grade, and the rest is history.
Q: What teachers or coaches from Ripley High influenced you in positive ways and why?
A: There are so many people that have influenced me throughout my time at Ripley that there would be no way to name them all. I am so thankful for my Coach, Jack Yearego. He is the person that first convinced me to run and has been a wonderful mentor, coach, and friend since. Even after I left Ripley, he has continued to support my running career and me. My 6th grade English teacher Mr. Terry Landis has also been a huge influence on me, not necessarily in running, but in so many other aspects of my life. He gave me a passion for learning, even outside the education system, at a young age and that has contributed to my success in college. Through him I became involved in Main Street Ripley and gained a passion for helping others. Throughout the years, he has supported me in so many different ways, and is a great friend I always look forward to talking to. My coaches Jimmy & Hilary Groves influenced me so much, as they were my coaches throughout middle school and the end of my high school career. They supported me throughout the ups and downs of my running career and helped me maintain my love for running and desire to be the best I could be. They’re also so funny and fun-loving so I never minded spending a couple of hours a day with them at practice. My high school teacher Ms. Barbara Heckert really influenced my educational goals. She was my teacher for most of my upper level science classes, and was one of the most phenomenal teachers I had while at Ripley. She gave me the passion I have for science and to this day, I am still learning material in class that she has already taught me. Most of all, I have been so influenced by my parents, my brother, my grandparents, and the rest of my family. They more than anyone, have shaped me into the person I am. They have supported me throughout every phase of my life, and deserve recognition for all of my successes. I love them all so dearly.
Q: What’s going on in your world this summer?
A: This summer, I’m just relaxing—catching up on sleep and having a little fun before I start medical school in the fall!
Q: What did it mean to you to win the The Torchbearer award?
A: The Torchbearer award was such an honor to receive. I was humbled to be chosen for such a prestigious award because I know many people at Tennessee who do so much for the community and for the university. I wish that more people could be recognized for the good they do for others.
Q: What have you learned from the running ministry you created to reach Knoxville’s homeless population?
A: The running ministry that I created was definitely the highlight of my time spent in Knoxville, and I learned so much from that experience. I learned about the difficulty of creating a program from scratch and about the obstacles that have to be overcome to make something successful. Because this was a running group that included some homeless friends, the obstacles were even greater, and showed me how blessed I am to be able to just throw on a pair of shoes and go running, anytime I want. I learned how important it is for people to be in an environment that fosters goal setting and healthy lifestyles and the affect this environment could have on other aspects of someone’s life. Lastly, I learned the importance of community, of reaching out to people you normally wouldn’t have a relationship with. I made so many friends through this program; not only did I affect their lives, but they affected mine.
Q: What is in the future for Chelsea Knotts?
A: I’ll be attending medical school at West Virginia University in the fall. I am so excited to be home in this beautiful state and to be closer to my family!