Campus News

Ned Ray McWherter Institute offers unique opportunities


Contact 1: Erin Chesnut

MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin’s Ned Ray McWherter Institute is a unique personal and professional development program that not only prepares select students for the workforce but gives them opportunities to visit places they may never see otherwise.

Second-year NRMI students test the waters by traveling domestically to large metropolitan areas such as New York City and Chicago, but third-year students truly spread their wings and explore international areas. Previous cohorts have chosen to travel through Japan, Greece or Italy, but the 2018 trip spanned the Netherlands, France and Belgium.

One of the factors that makes this experience unique is how the entire journey is planned and organized by the students themselves. They come together as a group to choose their destinations, and each person is given one day of the trip as their own to schedule, budget and coordinate.

“We had a certain amount per person (in the budget), and we worked the entire trip off that amount,” said Joseph Frazier, a senior from Greenfield. “Then, what was left, they gave to us to spend during the week to cover certain foods, public transportation and just daily expenses. It is all privately funded by our donors and our board members.”

“It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for very rural students like ourselves to get this opportunity,” said Benjamin Ort, a recent graduate from Milan.

This type of travel-study not only earns the students a stamp in their passports; it also provides a real-world learning experience that can be applied to their personal and professional lives. Ort, who studied business management before graduating May 5, said the experience allowed him to collaborate with a team to responsibly apply a budget – a skill he will certainly use in his career.

In fact, he says the real-world application of classroom knowledge is what drew him to UT Martin years ago.

“When I was looking at coming to Martin, the selling point to me was the opportunities I would have at this university as compared to any of the other ones,” he said. “Definitely the opportunity to travel is something I would urge a lot of (my classmates) to do.”

“It is worth doing at least one travel-study, either domestic or international, while you’re an undergraduate, I think, because it will change your whole life,” said Shaina Camien, a recent graduate from Clarksville. “I am very thankful because (this trip) increased my love of travel, and (I got to) experience new cultures. Without going on the trip, I wouldn’t have ever thought of going to the Netherlands and experiencing how they are different from us.”

The Ned Ray McWherter Institute accepts 10 UT Martin students each year by application only. For more information on how to apply, visit or contact the program office at or 731-881-3620.


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