Students and Alumni

SUAPP Outstanding Student Engagement Awardee 

This award is given annually to a student whose engagement activities have contributed to understanding and addressing some issue impacting the Memphis and/or the broader West TN/Mid-South community. Recipients will receive a monetary award of $200, recognized at the University Honors Assembly, and be featured in the SUAPP annual report.
The 2023 application is now closed. The deadline to apply was March 1, 2023.


Sharnae Smith, Master Public And Nonprofit Administration

Sharnae Smith, Master Public and Nonprofit AdministrationSharnae Smith is an active advocate for chronically ill patients and their caregivers. As person living with Lupus, she knows first-hand how important it is to for disabled and chronically ill patients and their families to have advocates. When the Lupus Foundation Memphis closed, leaving patients without support and resources, she started an organization to replace those services. She has travelled to Nashville, Tennessee on many occasions to speak with Congress to push for policy changes that can make the lives of chronically ill patients easier and to urge them to fund research for a cure. Further, recognizing that black and brown people often left out of clinical trials, she has collaborated with various pharmaceutical companies to bring more clinical trials to the area so that the research and data is representative of the diversity of the population. Her advocacy and outreach efforts have supported the Neshoba Community Resource Center, Lupus Foundation of America, Disability Rights of Tennessee, and the Tennessee Disability Coalition and impacted people in Memphis, TN and beyond.


Heather Lee Morgan, Master of Public and Nonprofit Administration

Heather Lee Morgan, Master Public and Nonprofit AdministrationHeather Morgan serves as the originator and first President of the University of Memphis Collegiate Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (UofM AFP). In this role she has liaised with the local professional chapter and helped plan a fundraising event for the Hattiloo Theatre. This event will bring together student and local artists into an arts bazaar, which will raise the profile of local artists and support both the Hattiloo Theatre and local artists. The Hattiloo Theatre provides a crucial platform for actors and actresses of color within the Memphis community and abroad. Her work with UofM AFP at the University of Memphis and coordination of the Hattiloo fundraiser gave her the opportunity to directly apply skills from her resource development and public budgeting and nonprofit management courses in ways that were meaningful to the community.


Jasmine Chalmers, BA Social Work

No photo or bio is available for her.

Ricki Martin SUAPP's 2021 Outstanding Student Engagement Awardee2021

Ricki Martin, Master of Social Work

Ricki Martin embodies the essence of the outstanding student engagement award with her commitment to community engagement and student leadership across seven organizations. As a Master of Social Work student, Ricki has interned with Life Choices and CHOICES Memphis Reproductive Health. Her drive for social and reproductive justice and equity extends to her involvement with community and student leadership roles. As board member for the Tennessee Health Care Campaign and pregnancy, birth, and postpartum doula at Birth Strides, Ricki helps to advocate for all Tennesseans to have access to high quality, affordable, and equitable healthcare. Ricki’s community and student engagement exemplifies SUAPP’s mission and vision of connecting student learning and research to critical community issues to enhancing the quality of life, well-being, and prosperity.  Learn more about Ricki and her work here - READ HER BIO .

2020Nikeisha Bass

Nikeisha Bass, Master of Social Work, worked with Restore Corp, a non-profit organization dedicated to the eradication of human trafficking, where she provided support for staff of various projects which benefitted survivors who attend the program and as well aseducated the community on the impact of human trafficking. She also worked with Project Launch as a pediatric mental healthconsultant and provided preventative care and interventions to over 100 families at LeBonheur and collaborated with staff to identify opportunities for formal and informal education on best practices in infant mental health. Nikeisha's community engagement exemplifies SUAPP's mission
and vision of actively connecting learning and practice to crucial community issues. 

John ZeanahJohn Zeanah

John Zeanah, Master of City and Regional Planning (2004), is the Director of the Memphis and Shelby County Division of Planning and Development. John previously served as Deputy Director of Planning and as Administrator of the Memphis and Shelby County Office of Sustainability. John and fellow City and Regional Planning alumna, Ashley Cash (2011), Administrator of the Office of Comprehensive Planning, lead the development of the Memphis 3.0 comprehensive plan. Memphis 3.0 is the city's first comprehensive plan since 1981, and provides guidance for combatting harmful urban sprawl through coordinated development. The plan recently earned the highest honor given by the American Planning Association: the 2020 Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan.


Jessica ButtermoreJessica Buttermore

Jessica Buttermore, Master of City and Regional Planning (20??), is the West Tennessee Organizer for United Campus Workers and a Bikeway and Pedestrian Program Technician for the City of Memphis. Jessica previously served as a Research Associate for the University of Memphis Design Collaborative, where she led the development of planning strategies for shared prosperity in the University District and the redevelopment of the Somerville Town Square.