Running with Hope

She’s an outstanding student and athlete. But what really defines Chelsea Knotts is her passionate drive to help and inspire others, especially the homeless.

Chelsea KnottsChelsea Knotts is a student with many talents, but her determination to use her abilities to enhance another’s quality of life makes her stand out from the crowd.

The 2012 graduate in biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology (BCMB) was a Torchbearer, a Haslam Scholar, UT’s candidate for the Rhodes Scholarship, a Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship recipient, a National Merit Scholarship recipient, and a member of the Lady Vols track and field team. But perhaps her most noteworthy accomplishment during her undergraduate years at UT was her leadership and organization of a running club for area homeless.

Knotts led the effort to create the Running with Hope 5K run and one-mile Fun Run to benefit Redeeming Hope Ministries as part of the Haslam Scholars service project. Knotts and other Haslam Scholars encouraged the homeless in the Fort Sanders area of Knoxville to race for their own cause of ending chronic homelessness. The program was successful in fostering goal setting, a sense of purpose and accomplishment, and a feeling of community among the homeless.

“Through this experience, I was able to see firsthand many of the challenges the homeless population must overcome in order to do something that the non-homeless population takes for granted, like going on a run,” Knotts says. “I gained a better appreciation for their struggles and a passion for helping people in all walks of life. I also gained meaningful relationships with people that I normally would not have encountered.”

Since then, her desire to help people has only grown. Now Knotts is enrolled at West Virginia University Medical School to pursue a career as a doctor. She currently assists with research in the neurosurgery research lab and is active in a homeless outreach program that focuses on providing necessities and basic medical care to area homeless.

“BCMB prepared me well for my first year of medical school, giving me an in-depth look at the biology and chemistry underlying basic processes of the human body,” she says.

Knotts has been interested in medicine since she was a little girl. The day after she was born, her father passed away due to a brain tumor. Her mother and grandmother were both nurses. In addition to growing up around the field of medicine, her natural empathy to help those in need contributes to her passion.

“On a personal level, I want to help people have a better quality of life while solving problems that affect people universally,” Knotts says. “Medicine combines my love of science with my love of people.”

—Sara Haywood