UT Martin now offers an out-of-state tuition wavier for high achieving students who live outside of the state of Tennessee. This new scholarship opportunity requires that recipients participate in the University Scholars program or the honors program. Makennen Crain is a beneficiary of this waiver and because he was able to attend UT Martin, he was able to find where he belongs.
Crain discovered UT Martin thanks to a letter he received in the mail. He recalled, "The first time I found out about UT Martin was via a letter. I got a lot of letters before [from other universities] and they were all sort of the same thing. "I hope you consider us in your decision." And I noticed that one of the first letters I got from UT Martin was, "You did really well on your ACT. We'll cut your out-of-state tuition." It was that straight-forward attitude that made me interested in UT Martin and I came down here and did a few tours and decided this is where I wanted to go."
When Crain set foot on campus, he knew he'd made the right decision. With a vested interest in engineering, Crain took to the engineering program like a duck to water. In high school, Crain helped establish a robotics club that gave him opportunities to do exactly what he loves.
Crain was part of the inaugural robotics team at his high school. His experience on the team led him to discover his dreams. Crain said, "I decided to become an engineering major after starting with the robotics team that my high school started up. We started off as a first year team. We didn't have a whole lot of experience and we were able to take a box of parts and turn it through this incredible transformation process into a working robot that followed guidelines and played the game, which comes out each year, as effectively as just about any other team."
Crain said of his first experience in the robotics competition, "We won the Inspire Award, the highest award for that in our very first year. It was getting that hands-on experience with that transformation process that made me want to become an engineer."
Overall Crain has big ambitions as to how he wants to apply what he learns in the engineering department. He said, "I have a real interest in military sort of stuff. I was thinking working on military ROVs, remote operated vehicles, would be really neat. I've also thought of designing props for movies in Hollywood for anything that needed movie parts, moving parts."
As Crain prepares for his future career, he is also taking advantage of opportunities on campus at UT Martin. One of his favorite activities on campus is Humans vs. Zombies. Hosted by the Student Activities Council, Humans vs. Zombies is a game of tag where all human players must avoid getting tagged by zombies before time runs out. Crain jokes that he may have garnered some attention after playing the game last fall.
As a strategy to make it to the safe zone without being spotted by the zombies, Crain found a special hiding place. He said, "I decided I would climb in the dumpsters near [Village] phase one. I made it that night."
While he may be known for his Humans vs. Zombies strategy, Crain is likely to be known for much more. He has big dreams and is determined to pursue them. Crain has a passion for robotics and enjoys learning about how things work. Thanks to the engineering department and his involvement in University Scholars, Crain has an opportunity to gain knowledge and life skills to help him achieve his dreams.