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Burton, Copley earn Meek Leadership Awards

MARTIN, Tenn. – Daariq Burton of Memphis and Emma Copley of Centerville, Tennessee,

were presented with the Paul and Martha Meek Leadership Award during the University of

Tennessee at Martin’s Fall 2023 commencement, held Dec. 9 at the Kathleen and Tom Elam


Posing with Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr Andy Lewter (center) are the winners of the Fall 2023 Paul and Martha Meek Leadership Awards, Emma Copley (left) and Daariq Burton.

Burton is a broadcast journalism major. He served as the assistant sports director at campus radio station WUTM-FM 90.3 “The Hawk” in his junior year, providing commentary for Skyhawk football and basketball games as well as Westview High School’s football and basketball games.

In his sophomore and junior years, Burton served as a senator in the Student Government

Association. In his senior year, he was a resident assistant, helping with campus tours, working during the UTM Preview Days. He also continued his work at WUTM.

Burton was a member of the Black Student Association and the campus history club. He served as a clerical worker in the Department of Mass Media and Strategic Communication.

“I believe Daariq epitomizes the outstanding qualities in students that UTM espouses for winners of the Meek Award,” said Dr. George E. Daniel, coordinator of the Student Affairs program, in his letter of nomination. “Additionally, I believe Daariq will bring honor and distinction to UTM throughout his career.”

Copley is a psychology major who graduated summa cum laude. She studied abroad in Denmark in the summer of 2022.

Copley is taking part in the CITI Program for research training that expires in January 2026. The research, ethics and compliance training program involves human subject research series training.

She earned the Emerging Leader Award in April 2022 and is a member of the Psi Chi

Psychology Honor Society, where she served as the local chapter’s vice president throughout the calendar years of 2022 and 2023.

Copley was a student leader with the UTM First-Year Initiative (FYI) program and was a UTM

Student Ambassador. She was a Supplemental Instruction Leader with the Student Success

Center, collaborating with professors, creating lesson plans and facilitating study sessions to help students understand the material better.

Copley served a semester as a senator in the Student Government Association and is a member of Students for St. Jude.

Last summer, she was a student intern in speech therapy at the Ascension St. Thomas Hickman Hospital in Centerville, where she observed and learned from the actions of professionals there, assisting the inter supervisor and learning therapy techniques.

“Emma is academically gifted, a servant leader and everything you want in a UT Martin

graduate,” said Katie Mantooth, assistant director in the Office of Career Services, in her letter of nomination. “She is a diligent student with ambitions to continue her education. She has completed undergraduate research, studied abroad and supported the FYI (general studies) program as a PEP Leader and college head. Even with all of her academic successes, she has also consistently served in both academic organizations and Greek Life.

“Emma serves humbly and diligently. From my observation, she is reliable and does what she

says she is going to do. She also sticks to her values when it is difficult to go against the grain of typical college temptations. Her behavior in leadership roles is the same among her peers and with campus faculty and administration.”

First awarded in 1970, the Paul and Martha Meek Leadership Award is given to a graduating

senior who has demonstrated outstanding qualities of leadership while at UT Martin. The award was originally established and funded by the three Meek children to honor their

parents. Dr. Paul Meek is the UT Martin library’s namesake, having led the university as its

executive officer (1934-51), administrative dean (1951-67) and chancellor (1967).

These are the only awards given during commencement each semester and showcase students who have displayed outstanding community and campus service.

For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at 731-881-7615.


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