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“Dream Big. Endeavor Far."


The sophomore innovators of the Ned Ray McWherter Institute (NRMI) presented the third annual Igniting Innovation event on April 21 at 7 p.m. in the Student Life Center.

Igniting Innovation serves as an opportunity for each year’s sophomore class to build an opportunity to speak out about what the Ned Ray McWherter Institute stands for. This opportunity is usually carried out in the form of inviting reputable people to come speak to students, faculty, and any other members of the community who decide to attend the event. These speeches typically follow a theme and encourage the audience about innovation.

This year’s sophomore class, or the NRMI class of 2018, themed their presentation, “Dream Big. Endeavor Far.” Together, the 18 students organized the event with guest keynote speakers Stephen McBride and Scottie Nell Hughes. They presented the R. Clayton McWhorter Innovation Award to Dr. Bob Page, DVM and Lt. Gen. John Castellaw.

Stephen McBride was a national FFA officer for the 2014-2015 year. His presentation included a humorous story about the importance of persistence and patience in hunting and the trials that come along the way as a person pursues their dreams, regardless of how big or small those dreams may be. McBride will graduate from UTM this spring with an Ag Business Degree, he plans to work for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation.

Scottie Nell Hughes is a UTM graduate from the Class of 2002 with degrees in Broadcast Communications and Political Science. She is a political analyst for Fox News. Though recently parodied by the writers of Saturday Night Live, Hughes says she will never let others’ opinions silence her. When she was at UTM she wanted to be a war-time journalist and commented after her speech that she did spend time over seas before reporting for Fox. Hughes allowed difficult professors and those with strong opinions to motivate her and push her to endeavor far so that she could be where she is today.

Award recipient, Dr. Bob Page is the owner and founder of Northwest Tennessee Veterinary Services and NeoTech, LLC in Dresden and graduated from UTM in 1969. His work to produce NEOPAR®, a vaccine for the canine parvovirus has saved the lives of many dogs and is used by veterinarians everywhere. His innovative thinking and problem solving skills have made a difference in West Tenn. and all over the nation. Lt.Gen. John Castellaw also received the Innovation award. He retired from the U.S. Marine Corps and is the President and CEO of Farmspace Systems, LLC in Alamo, Tenn. Castellaw has flown more than two dozen types of aircraft and is currently teaching as a fellow at UTM. His innovation with using drone technology as a monitoring device for agriculture has helped farmers all over.

The Ned Ray McWherter Institute serves to, “Uncover, maximize, and empower the potential of passionate and motivated students by transforming them into extraordinarily capable innovators who are fully prepared and uniquely inspired to influence and impact society.” This program is ever growing and looks forward to the opportunity to expand in upcoming years.

Patton Webb