Last January nearly 2 million college graduates made up the American class of 2022, thousands of which came from UT in Knoxville. This cohort spurs lasting growth of a city as they start companies, purchase homes, begin families, and fill jobs. Even though Knoxville houses many college students, the rate of new young professionals in Knoxville has fallen behind state averages. In other words, young people come here to learn, but they don’t stay to work.
Back in 2008, local leaders in the community, including then-mayor of Knoxville Bill Haslam, met to address the lack of young professionals. Thus, the Knoxville Fellows Program was born. The Knoxville Fellows has served to invite young Christian professionals directly into the heart of the city, where they can live, work, study, and build up the community and each other.
The Fellows has been an invaluable experience that encourages me to infuse every sector of my life with my faith. To begin with, I’ve gained work experience here at PYA Waltman, joining the team Monday through Thursday to tackle marketing and events needs for the firm. Waltman Capital has been a strong partner to the efforts of the fellow’s program, hiring two fellows and more new young talent this year.
Aside from the incredible community and personal growth I have experienced, Fellows has also given me a passion for the city and its needs. As a part of the program, Fellows live and study downtown, taking graduate-level courses each Friday on social justice, theology, and leadership with a specific focus on impacting Knoxville. By the end of the 10-month program, each of the 14 members of our class will graduate with a master’s degree and a practical knowledge of the needs of our city.
There is no better way to get invested in a place than to spend your time with its people. We take time to tour different neighborhoods and meet with leaders in the community, including leaders at Emerald Youth and Knox Area Rescue Mission, Mayor Kincannon, and more. These have been some of the most formative experiences in my 4 months here. It could be easy to move to a new city, go to work, go out to eat, and do it all over again the next week without ever really establishing roots. Instead, I’ve been encouraged, and encourage you, to get out and interact with others in the community in a way that matters. We have engaged in conversations about everything from the homeless situation to the economic hardships in East Knoxville and exciting rise of West Knoxville, volunteered our time to people in need, and diligently contributed to the workforce.
The Knoxville Fellows has been bringing dozens of young professionals to Knoxville post-graduation for 16 years. Investing in young leadership is investing in the future. What better way to spur on growth than to increase leadership in Knoxville by equipping and developing the next generation of servant leaders to seek the peace of our city? Learn more at KnoxvilleFellows.com.
PYA Waltman Capital, LLC (“PYAW”) is an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about PYAW’s investment advisory services can be found in its Form ADV Part 2, which is available upon request. PYA-22-31