Recent CBE graduate Chase Toth received a huge surprise during one of his spring semester classes. Vince Carrilli, vice chancellor for student life, walked in to recognize Toth as a 2019 Torchbearer, the university’s highest student honor.
He was one of only seven seniors across the university to be named Torchbearer, and this year’s sole engineering recipient. The award is bestowed for academic achievement, leadership, and outstanding service.
“It was great to celebrate with some of the people I admire most at UT,” said Toth. “It’s a special moment I won’t readily forget and a true honor.”
Toth, a Knoxville native, is an NAE Grand Challenge Scholar and is in both the Cook Grand Challenge Honors and Chancellor’s Honors programs. As a student coordinator for the VOLbreaks program, he has led student groups on trips to engage in hands-on, direct service while exploring the root causes of homelessness and poverty, along with sustainability practices.
He also served as an Ignite team leader and student director, a member of the Leadership Knoxville Scholars program, and participated in activities through the Center for Leadership and Service. Toth tackled his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering while maintaining this level of Volunteer spirit.
To be quite honest, chemical engineering is tough. There were some moments along the way where I questioned whether I had chosen the right major. However, I am extremely thankful to my professors for getting me through, and I’m proud to have survived ChemE.”
Over the summer, Toth applied to medical school and served as an intern in the office of Congressman Jim Cooper in Washington, DC.
“I think the internship is a unique experience to learn about and see how policy work has a place in my career as a physician and community leader,” he said. Likewise, the Cook Grand Challenge Honors program gave him opportunity to explore ways that engineering solutions can improve medical treatment and the healthcare system as a whole.
“Just as ‘Vol’ is a verb, so is ‘engineer,’” said Toth. “The Cook Grand Challenge offered numerous ways to serve as an engineer through my study abroad in China, to do my research, to serve in the community schools of Knoxville. I’m excited to solve problems and innovate in all that I do, especially as a physician.”
He looks for ways to address public health in the Knoxville community with an engineering mindset.
“I’ll be staying in Knoxville over the next year after my internship in DC, and I’ve been networking with organizations to see where I may be a good fit and where I might fill a need,” said Toth. “I’ve considered AmeriCorps, Great Schools Partnership, and spending some more time in a healthcare system. Knoxville has offered me so much, and I am looking forward to the opportunity to stick around for another year.”
He plans to stay involved with the UT community and find ways to serve the city. Down the road, he hopes to practice medicine in a city similar in size to Knoxville.
“I think it’s big enough to have everything you could ever want while also being small enough where you can make a difference,” said Toth. His ongoing interest is in emergency medicine and working to advance health equity for vulnerable populations.
“Again, engineering is a way of thinking that I intend to utilize in all of these future endeavors.”