FORMER MISS TENNESSEE TRADES CROWN FOR DIPLOMA
FORMER MISS TENNESSEE TRADES CROWN FOR DIPLOMA
MARTIN, Tenn. – Hannah Robison, Miss Tennessee 2015, appeared on stage at the University
of Tennessee at Martin for one final walk May 6 in front of a standing-room only crowd. This
time, however, she traded her tiara and ball gown for black commencement robes and honors
cords as she received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry during UT Martin’s spring
Robison, of Springville, is perhaps best known for her year as Miss Tennessee, but she was an
active member of the UT Martin campus community long before donning her first tiara. She
served as a general chemistry recitation leader for the Department of Chemistry and Physics and
worked for the UT Martin branch of the West Tennessee STEM Hub. She was also an active
member of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority.
She encourages incoming students to take advantage of the college environment to find their own
opportunities, even if they have to step outside their comfort zones and try something new.
“No matter how scary it may seem to put yourself out there and meet new people, it will be
something you do not regret. Getting involved in clubs and organizations on campus allows you
to build relationships with amazing people that you never would have gotten to meet without
trying something new,” she said. “In order to make good grades and build those long-lasting
relationships with people, you have to go to class, study hard and be open-minded about reaching
out to people and forming those relationships yourself. It was important for me to build those
relationships with faculty and staff on campus, because I realized they were here to help me
accomplish my goals, and they wanted to watch me grow and become successful.”
Competing in pageants was one of the new experiences Robison tried and, after winning the title
of Miss Scenic City in 2014, she advanced to the statewide Miss Tennessee pageant in June of
2015 and won the crown on her second try.
“My year as Miss Tennessee was filled with opportunities that I would not have been able to find
anywhere else,” she said. “As Miss Tennessee, I worked for Governor Bill Haslam as his
spokesperson for character education; I traveled over 80,000 miles and spoke to over 50,000
school children. I was able to highlight my work with the Arthritis Foundation on national
television, and I was able to promote UT Martin across the entire state of Tennessee. The public
speaking opportunities I had as Miss Tennessee and the people that I was able to meet have
prepared me for my future.”
Robison was selected as the People’s Choice contestant during the national Miss America
competition in September 2015 and ultimately finished top-seven for the title. However, she will
go down in history as the first Miss Tennessee to win the Miss America STEM Scholarship,
which totals $5,000 and is awarded to a contestant enrolled in a declared field of study in
science, technology, engineering or mathematics.
She was also named first runner-up for the Jean Bartel Quality of Life Award, given to a
contestant who excels in her commitment to enhance the quality of life for others through
volunteerism and community service. The first runner-up receives a $4,000 scholarship. This is
the highest finish a Miss Tennessee has received for this award, and Robison is the first Miss
Tennessee to qualify as a finalist for both preliminary scholarships.
Robison was also recognized as one of three USA gold medalists for the Duke of Edinburgh
International Award, introduced to the pageant in 2013. This accolade was first given in the
United Kingdom in 1956 and today is the world’s leading youth achievement award, available to
qualifying young people 14-24 years old.
When all was said and done, Robison had been awarded more than $46,000 in college
scholarship money through the Miss Tennessee and Miss America organizations.
Now, diploma in hand, Robison is packing her bags for a three-week trip to Sweden for a study
abroad program, after which she hopes to begin her chemistry career in a laboratory in the
“As crazy as it sounds, my favorite place on campus is the Joseph E. Johnson Engineering and
Physical Sciences Building. Although there were many days and many nights that I did not want
to be there, I realize now that EPS is the place that my favorite memories took place,” Robison
said. “My best friends came from studying and working in the chemistry labs of EPS at all hours
of the night. EPS is also the place where my favorite mentors were, Drs. Phillip and Abigail
Shelton. I am so thankful for the relationships I have made through the chemistry department and
the things I have learned from UT Martin’s incredible professors.”
Robison may be moving on to the next phase of her life, but UT Martin will always be proud to
call her a Skyhawk alum.