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Big Orange Give: Savannah Clay

As a little girl Savannah Clay was inspired by her grandmother, and her extreme passion for the nursing profession. “She was a nurse for 30 years, and extremely passionate about her work,” said Clay. “She would always go the extra mile for her patients. I know that because when I would be out with her, people would come up and tell her how much she had impacted their lives or the life of their loved ones by the care she had provided them at the hospital.”

Clay knew that she wanted to be a nurse just like her grandmother, and make a positive impact on the lives of others like her grandmother.

After failing to gain admission into the College of Nursing as a freshman, Clay channeled her disappointment into hard work and defied the odds to be admitted the following year.

During her time as an undergraduate at UT, Clay worked with underserved Knoxvillians through the Volunteer Ministry Center and the Lost Sheep Ministry. She reached out to Knoxville-area Arab Americans and developed an interactive simulation to teach her peers how to provide culturally congruent care for that community. Clay was inducted into the local chapter of the International Honor Society of Nursing and served on the College of Nursing Dean’s Advisory Board. She was also active in the Student Nurses Association, the Student Government Association, Student Alumni Associates, Minority Enhancement for the University of Tennessee (ME4UT), the Multicultural Mentoring Program, the Black Cultural Programming Committee, and the Campus Entertainment.

Clay also received the Torchbearer Award, the university’s highest student honor. She was notified of her selection with a surprise classroom visit from Victoria Niederhauser, dean of the college and other UT administrators.

She grew to become an accomplished nursing student, committed to providing culturally competent care and eliminating racism in health care. Clay spent 3 years in a surgical ICU, and is now a 3rd year DNP-FNP student.

“Scholarships helped allow me to continue attendance at my beloved alma matter, receive an excellent education, and pursue my dream of becoming a nurse practitioner,” said Clay. “Scholarships have helped alleviate a heavy financial burden and allowed me to give greater focus to my education and future practice.”

To help students like Savannah continue to fulfill their dreams or to learn more about Big Orange Give visit


Kara Clark (865-974-9498,