As a first-generation college student, engaged scholar and University of Tennessee graduate, Destiny Sirivong has seen many facets of campus life.
“Navigating college as a first-generation college student was difficult, but I realized I was changing the trajectory for my family,” she says. “My brother is now a rising junior at UT, and my cousin will soon attend as a first-year student, too.”
When Sirivong finished her undergraduate degree in 2015, she decided to stay at the university as an admissions counselor. She is now a coordinator of outreach and pre-collegiate programs at Haslam and completed her master’s degree in college student personnel at UT this year.
“The Office of Diversity and Community Relations was a home away from home when I was a student, and I wanted to give back to an office and college that has given so much to me,” Sirivong says.
The Office of Diversity and Community Relations began with one person in 2007 and has since grown to a staff of five that offers initiatives throughout UT and the greater Knoxville area. Sirivong is proud to have played an active role in this growth.
“Haslam has been a leader of diversity and inclusion practices on campus and even continues to be a leader for business schools in the Southeastern Conference,” she says.
With this in mind, she is constantly taking steps in her own role to continue the trend.
“We've grown our initiatives and events to better represent and serve underrepresented students within the college,” Sirivong says. “From the Women in Business, the Leadership and Entrepreneurship Summit, and Veterans Appreciation Salute, to the Rural Outreach Initiative and TakeOff Program, we are constantly thinking of impactful and intentional programming for students.”
Navigating college as a first-generation student was difficult for Sirivong, and she has always been grateful for the guidance of Haslam’s staff. Now, she gets to return the favor by being a mentor and liaison to students herself.
Outside of work, she teaches dance and gymnastics at Premier Athletics and enjoys exercising, trying new restaurants and traveling.