The fellowship is the highest honor for incoming graduate students at the University of Tennessee. Leonard will pursue a Master of Arts in sociology with concentrations in political economy and social theory.
“My mentors at Wartburg were essential in my preparation for graduate school,” said Leonard, who credited Dan Thomas, his political science adviser, with helping him discover a love of learning. “Having a professor who valued the true purpose of a liberal education, and who could communicate that to students, was probably the single most important moment of my undergraduate career.”
Leonard also credited Daniel Sundblad and Brian McQueen, sociology professors, with focusing his research, which he pursued through independent studies and summer opportunities.
“I have no doubt that the amount of original research experience I did at the undergraduate level greatly increased how competitive my graduate school applications were,” he said. “I probably spent as much time, if not more, in my mentors offices as I did with them in the classroom. It was these interactions where the most personal, career and intellectual growth occurred during my years at Wartburg. I will be forever grateful for their commitment to me and hope that someday I can share that same level of commitment in training future generations of social leaders.”
The J. Wallace and Katie Dean Graduate Fellowship Program was established in 2005 through an endowment provided by the Dean Trust. The Deans were longtime friends of the University of Tennessee and active community leaders in Knoxville. The award was offered to selected nominees who excelled in their undergraduate work and showed promise for outstanding graduate work in excellent and demanding programs at UT.