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Student Spotlight: Joseph “Ryan” Sowell


Ryan Sowell

College of Business Administration rising senior Joseph “Ryan” Sowell is a native of Knoxville; he attended a unique combination of schools before pursuing his education at the University of Tennessee.

Sowell began his education at Beaumont Magnet Elementary, located in an inner-city community in Knoxville, where he learned both inside the classroom and out (often practicing drive-by shooting drills at recess). It was a stark contrast to the upscale private school where Sowell attended middle school (Webb School of Knoxville), and he eventually moved back across town to West High School, where he took courses both on the college-prepertory and vocational tracks.  At UT, Sowell has earned a 3.76 GPA while pursuing a dual concentration in economics and international business. He is a member of the university’s Chancellor’s Honors Program and Baker Scholars Program as well as the college’s Global Leadership Scholars honors program.

One of Sowell’s biggest passions is international travel, and he twice had the opportunity to study abroad while a student in UT’s College of Business Administration. During the summer of 2009, he studied the international wine, paper, and aerospace industries in Bordeaux, France. This summer, he is studying international trade and economic policy in Freiburg, Germany, as part of a four-week immersion experience. Sowell also has explored Europe and participated in mission projects in Honduras and Nicaragua.

Though Sowell’s academic commitments keep him busy, he has been incredibly active on the UT Knoxville campus and in the local and state communities.  He interned for U.S. Senator Bob Corker’s Knoxville field office, and he has worked as a research assistant for the University of Tennessee Center for Business and Economic Research in the College of Business Administration.

On campus, Sowell is involved in numerous campus organizations. He serves as a representative of the College of Business Administration in the Student Government Association, is a representative for the Honors Council, and is president of the Interfraternity Council. He is a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and on the student leadership team of The Cross: Greek Campus Ministry.

This year, Sowell had the unique opportunity to engage in the public policy process on behalf of the College of Business Administration. On three occasions, Sowell joined College of Business Administration Dean Jan R. Williams to speak with state legislators about the college’s new differential tuition plan. He testified in front of the Tennessee House of Representatives’ Finance Ways and Means Committee and the Education Committee, and he met individually with key legislators.

Sowell eagerly anticipates his senior year and working with the college faculty and staff to pursue his undergraduate research goals. His research interests include the relationship between local governments---specifically the City of Knoxville and Knox County---and the effects of globalization on small business.  After graduation, Sowell hopes to attend graduate school and/or work in the non-profit sector as a policy advocate.

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