"I, Kelsey Keny, solemnly swear always to uphold the ideals of the University of Tennessee and its policies as listed in Hilltopics. I will strive to uphold the constitution of the Student Government Association, and I will – to the best of my ability – represent the concerns of all students as Student Body President."
These words, spoken by Jake Baker and repeated by Kelsey Keny, marked the transition from one SGA administration to the next in the University Center Hermitage Room Tuesday night.
And as Baker took a seat at a table, Keny stood at the podium to deliver her first remarks to the 2014-2015 SGA senators. She began with advice her mother once gave her when she, as a young girl, hoped desperately to be the best at everything.
"She said, 'Kelsey, in life, there's always going to be someone who's a little bit better, who's a bit more.' And it was the most humbling advice I've ever received," she said. "Standing here, looking at this room, I see people who are more brilliant than I am, more talented than I am, more eloquent than I am.
"But when you put more and more and more together, you get the most. The most dedicated, committed, driven group of people working together for a cause they believe in. That's where progress comes from."
To begin that progress, Keny nominated her executive board, naming Daniel Richter as chief of staff; Amy Prosise as executive secretary; Madison Krall as treasurer; Annie Carr as press secretary; Thomas Carpenter as City of Knoxville liasion; and Johnathan Jackson as webmaster. The nominations passed unanimously.
SGA Vice President Connor Dugosh and Director of Student Services Katelyn Hadder were also sworn in, as well as all of the newly elected senators.
Before the transition ceremony began, Baker surveyed the newly elected SGA senate and delivered his final remarks. After thanking all those he worked with, he predicted a promising SGA future.
"We are on a really great trajectory right now," he said. "I can't wait to see what you guys do next year."
Baker, former Vice President Paige Atchley and former Director of Student Services Grant Davis also handed out the annual SGA awards. The SGA Executive Board Leadership Award went to John Keny and the Philip A. Scheurer Leadership Award (for freshmen) went to Jennings Hardee.
Atchley recognized Hannah Bailey and Kathleen Connelly as Outstanding Senators; Davis selected Bethany Van Heuser, Rachel Cross and Clay Hillyard as outstanding Student Services Committee members; and Martin Walker, the Graduate Student Senate President, recognized St. Thomas LeDoux and Kathryn Abrahamsson as Outstanding GSS members.
With all the awards handed out and positions announced, Keny closed out the ceremony, saying one of her favorite quotations — with a Vol-inspired twist.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed students can improve student life at the University of Tennessee," Keny said. "Indeed, it's the only thing that's ever going to."