Ikponmwosa “Harry” Evbuomwan, originally from Nigeria, graduated from the University of Tennessee at Martin on May 4 with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and a focus on sport business. Evbuomwan is currently living in Huntingdon and is part of the Tennessee Army National Guard 190th Engineer Company based in McKenzie.
He started his bachelor’s degree in 2003 at Lane College in Jackson and later transferred to Union University. However, life plans often change, and he found himself leaving school in 2008. In 2017, Evbuomwan came to UT Martin to finish what he started with the help of the new Tennessee Strong financial aid program.
“I felt comfortable going back to school and that UT Martin would be the best choice for me,” he said. “(Johnny) Dyer helped me a lot with how to get all the things I needed with the … (Tennessee) Strong Act.” Dyer is the UT Martin veteran services coordinator and works closely with all student-veterans at the university’s main campus and West Tennessee centers.
The Tennessee Strong Act, proposed by former Gov. Bill Haslam and made official by the state legislature in May 2018, provides tuition reimbursement to service members who meet certain qualifications and are already using federal tuition assistance to obtain their degrees. The last-dollar scholarship is used to fill any gaps remaining after other financial aid options have been applied. “It’s helped me a lot to go to school and know that I would have enough to go to school and finish my degree on time,” said Evbuomwan.
Evbuomwan currently works in corrections at the Carroll County Jail in Huntingdon. However, he wants to use his degree to help young people stay away from that environment.
“I’m hoping to try to work with maybe high school kids to become a coach. … (Sports) build character. It helps them to see that it doesn’t matter how you look at it, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, if you put your mind to it, you can do anything that you choose to (do),” he said.
Evbuomwan was one of more than 700 students eligible to receive UT Martin degrees for the spring 2019 semester.