Azaria boyd’s Volunteer Experience

The Color Orange Changed My Life

Azaria boyd’s Volunteer Experience

The Color Orange Changed My Life

By Laura Tenpenny (’11)

A child raises her hand to speak during group work, and Azaria Boyd (Class of 2024) is overjoyed by it. Boyd works with local schoolchildren with attention and learning problems, specifically presenting ADHD symptoms, through UT’s Behavior and Learning Lab with the Department of Psychology.

“During week one she was easily upset when she wasn’t called on first, but now raises her hand and waits her turn,” says Boyd, smiling about the student. “We work mainly on handling and expressing emotion and she has improved so much. They’ve all improved, and it’s so exciting.

“As a psychology major with a minor in child and family studies, I love learning about the brain, behavior, and why we are the way we are,” Boyd explains. “I’ve always loved working with kids, and I’ve loved seeing the kids grow in the lab. I always want to make a difference.”

“My scholarships really impacted me and enabled all the things I’ve done at UT. I’m interested in developmental psychology, and I’ve been able to pursue so many hands-on learning opportunities like this lab.”

Azaria Boyd

Azaria Boyd with a student

But for Boyd, it was scholarship support that made the difference.

“I basically have a full ride with UT’s Flagship Scholarship and other support,” she says. “Without it, I can’t say what my life would be right now or if I would even be in college. My scholarships really impacted me and enabled all the things I’ve done at UT. I’m interested in developmental psychology, and I’ve been able to pursue so many hands-on learning opportunities like this lab.”

Boyd has spent senior year with the lab, which supports research in ADHD. She helps the lab run an after-school program in partnership with the Shora Foundation, a nonprofit serving East Knoxville through youth and entrepreneurship programming. The experience brought to life concepts from class and exposed her to realities of graduate school.

“I love how my professors apply things to the real world and encourage us to apply it to our lives, and now I’m applying it all in the lab,” says Boyd. “We use cognitive therapy techniques and work with the mind and thoughts and see how that translates to behavior. I’m also seeing what the lab’s graduate students experience in their coursework—research, internships, theses.”

As well as lab work, Boyd has taken advantage of internships, summer jobs, and study abroad experiences through UT. These opportunities helped clarify her future, and she has grown personally in priceless measure. Studying abroad in London and Madrid during her junior year was especially impactful.

Azaria Boyd at the FC Barcelona Museum
Azaria Boyd takes a selfie with the Eiffel Tower in the background
Azaria Boyd poses for a photo with Buckingham Palace in the background

“Studying abroad was really life-changing,” says Boyd. “I studied health care in other countries and the family system in different cultures. I interned with a youth organization in London to help grow their partnerships with local schools. It’s helped me become more adaptable.

“I got to take a break from the hustle and bustle and just enjoy learning,” she continues. “It showed me the value of just exploring my interests. I want to go to graduate school, but I’m not sure what to study, so I’ve decided to take a gap year and get some more experience.”

Following her time overseas, Boyd became a study abroad peer advisor with UT’s Center for Global Engagement to help students find the right program and arrange funding.

“I also became a peer advisor because sometimes minority students don’t realize what studying abroad could mean for them. It was important for me as a Black woman to show other minorities: ‘Hey, I did it and so can you.’

UT has shown me that an open mind is so important because you never know what doors an opportunity might open. Orange changed my life.

Azaria Boyd

Class of 2024

UT has shown me that an open mind is so important because you never know what doors an opportunity might open. Orange changed my life.

Azaria Boyd

Class of 2024

“The study abroad options helped draw me to UT,” she adds. “I remember sitting in my grandmother’s house with my dad looking at all the programs offered. I was even able to use some of my scholarship support for it. I didn’t like orange before I came here, but now it’s my second-favorite color.”

A Memphis native, Boyd originally wanted to go to college out of state to truly feel like she was spreading her wings. But opportunities at UT were attractive, especially the scholarships she earned. In combination with other support, her Flagship Scholarship covered her tuition and fees.

“If you’re thinking about giving, do it, because you don’t realize how impactful it can be for a student.”

Azaria Boyd

As part of the Tri-Star Scholarship Program, Flagship Scholarships improve access to education for Tennessee residents at UT through donor support. The Flagship Scholarship is currently available to students from 38 Flagship-designated Tennessee high schools.

“If you’re thinking of giving, do it, because you don’t realize how impactful it can be for a student, especially if they experience financial hardships or their decision to come to college depends on that,” says Boyd. “UT has shown me that an open mind is so important because you never know what doors an opportunity might open. Orange changed my life.”

Now Boyd is enjoying her last semester and the difference she’s made for the children participating in her lab. She plans to continue working with children who are neurodivergent and have developmental disabilities, and she is applying to jobs and internships to further explore her career options before pursuing her graduate education. Wherever her career takes her, orange will remain one of her favorite colors.