Jonathan Utley, a junior health and human performance major from Jackson, was influenced growing up by a number of his coaches. Today, Utley hopes to build upon his leadership skills and pay that influence forward.
Utley has participated in sports for most of his life, having played basketball throughout middle and high school. Once he started thinking about his life after graduation from Madison Academic Magnet High School, studying health and human performance only seemed natural to him.
“I just always knew it felt right just doing something involved with health and fitness,” Utley said.
Utley learned about the Call Me MiSTER program from his high school chemistry teacher, and although he already planned on attending UT Martin, the program was an extra push towards combining his passion for health and fitness with education. Since becoming a part of the program, Utley has greatly appreciated the mentorship and community he has gained.
“I already planned to come here, but I didn’t really know about the program. One of my teachers told me about it, and so that kind of steered me towards K-12. …” Utley said. “We have a group of mentors that check in on us. Sometimes we go out to lunch and stuff and they just see how we’re doing and hold us accountable.”
Since coming to UT Martin, Utley has become involved with a number of organizations both on and off campus. He is a member of Gamma Beta Phi and Phi Eta Sigma Honor Societies, the Black Student Association, and the Student Tennessee Education Association and SHAPE Club on campus, as well as the Tennessee Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.
Because of Utley’s involvement in both the SHAPE Club and TAHPERD, he was able to receive the James E. Ward Future Professional Honor Award. The award is given out annually to an outstanding Tennessee student studying health, physical education, recreation, dance, or any other related field of study.
“I was really happy. I didn’t think that I was going to win, but I won it out of the whole state,” Utley said. “I was just honored to be nominated from this school.”
By staying active on campus and taking advantage of the opportunities available to him, Utley prepares for his future in coaching and teaching tomorrow’s youth.