Recent Cleveland High graduate Grant Currin received the Peyton Manning Scholarship, which was presented to him by the former Vol and current Denver Broncos quarterback at the Neyland Stadium locker room named for the future NFL Hall of Famer earlier this week.
“It’s an honor to get the scholarship, and to meet him (Manning) was something very special,” commented Currin. “My parents (Kim and Barry Currin) both graduated from UT and are big Vol fans, so we were all excited about it.”
Selected as one of 15 incoming freshmen to be chosen for the Haslam Scholars Program, Currin and Alexandra Brito of Brentwood were selected to receive the Peyton Manning Scholarship, which is one of the Chancellor’s Honors Program scholarships.
Awarded annually since 1998, the Manning Scholarship is presented to first-year students participating in the University of Tennessee Honors Program. Currin and Brito became the 19th and 20th recipients in the 16-year history of the scholarship.
"We're proud to have Alex and Grant as our two winners this year," said Manning, who was joined by Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek, and Provost Susan Martin at the ceremony. "They really rose to the top in a very competitive field and a very strict selection process."
"The scholarship program has been a great connection for me to the university," said Manning. "I had a wonderful four years here at UT, and I wanted a number of other students to have the same chances and opportunities that I had.”
“I can't believe we're in our 16th year and we have 20 recipients now. So many of them are working now out in the real world, and it's been a family and a great alumni system as well,” he added. “It means a lot knowing how appreciative the students in the program are and how they took advantage of the resources and the wonderful opportunities here at UT."
Jessica Jarrell Poore, the 2005 recipient of the Peyton Manning Scholarship, also spoke at the ceremony about what the impact the scholarship has had on her life and academic career. She is currently pursuing her doctorate within the Department of Agricultural Leadership at the University of Tennessee.
The prestigious scholarship is granted on the basis of academic achievement, leadership and community service, all in which Currin excels.
Graduating from CHS with a 4.0 grade point average, plus scoring a 34 on his ACT test, he not only is a National Honor Society, Beta and Interact club member, but also participated in the American Legion Boys State and was a head delegate to the Model United Nations.
“I have an interest in government and international relations,” he explained. “I first went to Model United Nations as a 10th grader. I’ve been to Philadelphia and twice to Washington D.C., with the program.”
“While at Boys State, I got to sit in the Governor’s chair and watch the (state) Supreme Court hold a session. I’ve really enjoyed being able to do those things.”
Recently, he also helped organize a fundraising 5K run to build sustainable housing in Cambodia in conjunction with People for Care and Learning.
“We had just over a hundred runners on the old Rolling Hills Golf Course site. We raised enough money to build two houses for the Build a City project,” he beamed.
Chosen to be a student volunteer through the docent program at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Currin is an avid SCUBA diver, holding a Master Diver and Divemaster professional, along with rescue, river diving and swift water certifications.
“When I was in the fourth grade, I saw a banner outside the YMCA advertising SCUBA diving lessons. I got excited about it, and my parents let me take lessons. I really enjoyed it and have risen through the ranks to Dive Master.”
Athletically, Currin is a three-time qualifier for the TSSAA State Cross Country Meet and plans to continue “club” running, plus participating in 5K and 10K events when possible.
After running in half marathons in 2011 and 2012, Currin competed in his first full marathon just 12 days after the bombings at this year’s Boston Marathon. Currin ran the 26.2 miles in 2:58 to finish fifth in his age division and 23rd overall at the 2013 Country Music Marathon in Nashville.
“Running in the marathon was a great experience,” he expressed. “It was just a short time after the bombing in Boston and their was such a real solidarity among the runners. It was great to be a part of.”
His time was good enough to make him a Boston Marathon Qualifier.
“There are three levels of qualifiers. Right now I’m at level 2, so I probably won’t qualify for next year, but I’m going to try continue to improve my time and hopefully be able to run in it,” Currin explained. “Running in the Boston Marathon is one of my goals.”
Currin won his age division at the 2012 Country Music half marathon and was second in the 2011 event.
He also won the 2011 Byrd Creek Trail Run 10K in Crossville and was second at the Jesse Owens Classic Red Division that same year.
Currin has also placed at the BCBST Riverbend 5K, Lee University Homecoming 5K and Cleveland Shriner’s 5K (twice). He was also a Best of Preps finalist the past three years.
“I ran both cross country and track my freshman year, but I preferred the challenge of the all-terrain running of cross country, so that’s what I mostly run,” the two-time Raider team captain remarked.
“Running (at CHS) was a real good experience. I made great friendships and really loved the coaches. It was something good to be involved in,” Currin stated.
Also a talented guitarist, between the ages of 6 to 12 Currin performed at area fairs and festivals. “I still play (the guitar), I just don’t perform for events anymore,” he related.
Planning to major in sociology at UT, Currin “can’t wait for classes to start. I’m really looking forward to getting up there and getting started.”
"Receiving this scholarship means a lot to me," he added. "It's a great honor and is very humbling, and it will let me have opportunities that I wouldn't have had. This is really going to make a difference in my educational career."
— The UT Sports Information Department contributed to this story.
A video of the presentation event can be viewed at http://www.utsports.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/061713aag.html