Austin Byerly will graduate in May with a degree in public relations and a full scholarship to Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina where he will begin his Master of Divinity studies in August.
He grew up in Cleveland, Tennessee where he set his goal of becoming a Volunteer in elementary school. “I knew I wanted to come to UT and decided on a degree in public relations long before I enrolled,” said Byerly. “When I considered the degree program that would best compliment my goal of ultimately serving in the ministry, the public relations program offered the best foundation to help me develop good listening and storytelling skills. I hope to use what I have learned in my classes to communicate with different groups of people and facilitate collaboration.”
Byerly has been working at Central United Methodist Church (CUMC) in Knoxville while at UT where he has been helping with social media, web content and e-newsletters for the congregation as a way of honing his messaging skills.
He also took advantage of the study abroad program at CCI traveling to Siena, Italy last summer with Professor Candace White. “I learned the impact of intercultural communication nuances and how to respect those with a different perspectives,” noted Byerly. “He also credits Associate Professor Michael Palenchar with solidifying his decision to study public relations. “I took a class with him early on and knew it was the absolute right decision.” Byerly was challenged by Assistant Professor Moonhee Cho’s campaigns class which helped him develop skills that he has already applied to his CUMC work.
Byerly was recognized at the 2018 Chancellor’s Honors Banquet with both the Extraordinary Academic Achievement award and the Extraordinary Professional Promise award. From the School of Advertising and Public Relations, he also received the Sammie Lynn Puett award as the top public relations graduate for 2018.
“Austin exemplifies the strong relationships our students and faculty build,” said ADPR Director Maureen Taylor. “He has taken advantage of the opportunities presented to him during his time at UT. I know that Austin will take that knowledge with him in his future career.”