Students Behind the Project

Biographies of the Medal of Honor Project Students

These are the students behind the scenes of the Medal of Honor Project. Get to know each student and understand their motivations for their involvement. This is a dynamic group of students that include both grad and undergrad students within the College of Communication and Information at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. All of these individuals were personally recruited by professors Dr. Nick Geidner and Clinton Elmore. Follow them as they gain once-in-a-lifetime, hands-on experience by being a part of the Medal of Honor Project.

As the project progresses and the convention approaches Knoxville, TN, we will be adding students to our growing team. Check-in as we introduce them and their contributions to the Medal of Honor Project.

Samantha DeVault is our Social Media Communications Intern on the Medal of Honor Project. Samantha is a Student Veteran within the Tombras School of Advertising & Public Relations majoring in Advertising with a double-minor in Graphic Design and Business Administration. She served six years active duty in the United States Navy and completed her service in July 2021 as a Second Class Petty Officer Aviation Electrician’s Mate. She was excited to return home to Tennessee. Now Samantha uses her military experience and creative skills  to involve herself in the Veterans Community. As a Medal of Honor Project Student she hopes to highlight both the Recipients and the local veterans that make Knoxville and the University of Tennessee home.

Alex Trussler has been working with the commercial production unit of The Volunteer Channel since 2020 as a camera operator. He originally got his start in video production by making short films and sketches for his personal YouTube channel, Collision Comedy. Alex now serves as a writer, editor, and videographer for the Medal of Honor Project. Growing up in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Alex comes from a military family and is a 2nd generation immigrant. By working with the Medal of Honor Project, he hopes to commemorate our Nation’s heroes and give back to our community’s veterans.

Haley Hodges is a first generation senior at the University of Tennessee majoring in Information Sciences with a concentration in Information Management and Analytics with a minor in psychology. Haley has been involved with The Volunteer Channel since 2021, and she is the executive producer for The Morning JEM. Coming from Jefferson City, Tennessee, Haley is part of a military family and is honored to assist in the Medal of Honor Project. Through her work on this project, she hopes to expand on her experience within the University of Tennessee and showcase this once in a lifetime event.

Ellie Millikan is a  junior at the University of Tennessee studying Journalism and Electronic Media while minoring in Public Relations and Advertising. Millikan is the social media producer for The Volunteer Channel’s VolNews. She is also a part of writing scripts and video content creation for VolNews. Ellie Millikan is from Knoxville, TN and her grandpa served in WW2 and the Vietnam war. She is thrilled to learn more about the Medal of Honor and include as many veterans as possible. Ellie is very excited to work on the coverage of the Medal of Honor Project and documenting the Medal of Honor Convention. Millikan hopes to inspire more people to learn more about the Medal of Honor and the recipients. 

Jeremy Thomas, also known as JT, is a senior at the University of Tennessee double majoring in Journalism and Electronic Media and French Studies. JT also works as a producer for the hard news segment of Vol News, and he is the treasurer for the University of Tennessee chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He served six years as a Combat Engineer in the United States Marine Corps as a reservist. He completed his service in June 2020 as a Lance Corporal. JT’s goals for this project include helping to highlight the convention and veterans and community members involved in bringing  the Medal of Honor Convention to Knoxville.

Ben Lewis is a junior at the University of Tennessee majoring Journalism and Electronic Media while minoring in Sociology. Lewis is involved with The Volunteer Channel and has been since his second semester here at The University of Tennessee. He primarily focuses on scriptwriting for the on-air talent and production work inside the studio. Lewis is excited to work on the coverage of the Medal of Honor Project and the Medal of Honor Convention. While not having any close family members in the military, Lewis is excited to highlight the recipients and expand his skills and knowledge as a journalist.