Students with an interest in leadership are now being offered the opportunity to enhance their leadership skills within themselves and their community.

The Center for Leadership & Service, a department of the Division of Student Life, is teaming up with Leadership Knoxville, a non-profit community organization, to provide rising juniors or seniors the chance to take part in this two-year or one-year program on leadership education.

Sally Parish, director of the Center for Leadership & Service, explained some of the benefits the students could gain from participating in this program.

“The Leadership Knoxville Scholars is a highly selective and competitive program,” Parish said. “It targets the best and brightest student leaders at (UT) and connects them to impactful change agents and leaders within the Knoxville community.”’

The program features a variety of different programming and coursework ranging from alternative fall and spring break trip experiences, retreats, and two or three-hour credit leadership courses. Everything in the program focuses on the values of leadership, community building and social change.

The program’s partnership with Leadership Knoxville will provide students with an opportunity to connect with community leaders and work alongside them to develop not only their own individual leadership, but also to strengthen the leadership of their community.

“The men and women involved with Leadership Knoxville are some of our communities most impressive, selfless, servant leaders and the opportunity afforded to our Leadership Knoxville Scholars to be able to interact with them in such a significant way is truly exciting,” Parish said. “We are grateful for their support and for the opportunity to share this vision and opportunity with our community.”

The Knoxville Leadership Scholars program is designed to give students a life-changing experience and to show them that Knoxville is a potential post-collegiate location. Through the various community involvement activities the students will experience, the program organizers hope to show the students what the city has to offer and to help them develop their leadership skills.

“This is a tremendous opportunity and one that we are excited to offer,” Parish said. “We look forward to welcoming the inaugural class of the Knoxville Leadership Scholars and hope that many eager students apply for this once in a lifetime leadership opportunity that embraces what it truly means to be a Tennessee Volunteer.”

On top of the service activities and courses the students will take, the program aims to teach each participant something about themselves. The Knoxville Leadership Scholars will identify their core values and explore self-awareness through the program’s emphasis on personal strengths and challenges.

Joining this program is a full two-year commitment for juniors and a one-year commitment for seniors, beginning in August 2013 and continuing until the student graduates. The program does grant a temporary leave for students who may be studying abroad or taking internship opportunities.

Parish looks forward to initiating the program on campus and seeing what success it brings for the students.

“It is truly the first program of its kind on our campus and we look forward to working with partners on campus and in the community to ensure its success,” Parish said.

Alicia White, graduate teaching assistant, has helped organize this program and said the mentorship potential is her favorite part.

"I am most excited for the LKS students to have the chance to be mentored by Knoxville community members,” White said.

The program is open to students of all majors and will launch with its first junior and senior students in the fall 2013 semester. Students must have a 3.0 minimum GPA and a record of leadership and service experience. Applications for the program are currently available at leadershipandservice.utk.edu until March 14.