Haslam Seniors Named Among Nation’s Best and Brightest Business Majors

Haslam seniors KJ Malone and Veda Seay are among Poets & Quants for Undergrads’ 2024 100 best and brightest undergraduate business majors.

May 7, 2024

Two graduating seniors from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business have received national recognition from Poets & Quants for Undergrads. The publication named Kevin (KJ) Malone and Veda Seay to its 100 Best and Brightest Undergraduate Business Majors of 2024 list.

KJ Malone: Academic Honors and Campus Leadership

“I am truly honored to be selected as a P&Q Best and Brightest Business Major,” says Malone, a finance major with a concentration in international business who hails from Memphis. “It is incredibly humbling to be recognized among the many talented and deserving students in the Haslam College of Business. I want to express my deepest gratitude to my mentors, friends and family for supporting me throughout my college journey.”

Throughout his time at UT, Malone has distinguished himself academically, participating in two highly selective honors programs: Haslam Scholars and Greg and Lisa Smith Global Leadership Scholars (Smith GLS). He has demonstrated leadership in numerous areas of campus life, from serving as a peer coach for the UT Success Academy and a peer consultant in Haslam’s Business Communications Studio to serving as vice president of the Mu Iota Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and in a variety of roles for Minority Enhancement for UT (ME4UT).

Jennifer Rittenhouse, director of the Smith GLS and one of several Haslam faculty and staff who nominated Malone for the Poets & Quants for Undergrads honor, says, “KJ Malone is an excellent example of leadership and community engagement. His pursuit of excellence extends beyond academic endeavors, and he has honed his professional skills by completing internships at Options Group in London and BMO Harris Private Bank in Chicago. For these reasons and many more, KJ is an excellent example of what Poets & Quants seek in their Best and Brightest.”

After graduating in May 2024, Malone will join JPMorgan Chase & Co., where he will complete three eight-month rotations in business analytics, process improvement and project management as part of the company’s corporate analyst development program. He is excited to learn from experienced professionals and feels Haslam has prepared him to take on new challenges.

“The University of Tennessee and the Haslam College of Business have equipped me with the ability to proactively seek out opportunities and challenges that align with my interests,” Malone says. “I’m grateful for the many experiences I’ve had here because they have helped me learn more about myself and my postgraduate journey.”

Veda Seay: Classroom Standout and Program Advocate

“Knowing that there are so many talented and hard-working students here in Haslam, I was so proud to be selected for this recognition alongside KJ,” Seay says. “I have been so supported by the Department of Business Analytics and Statistics, Heath Integrated Business and Engineering Program and all the other subgroups I have been a part of here in Haslam, and it made me feel proud to represent all these communities as an award recipient.”

Seay, of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, will graduate in May with a dual degree in business analytics and mathematics, having taken a triple major in business analytics, mathematics and statistics with concentrations in the Heath Integrated Business and Engineering Program (Heath IBEP) and applied math. She is also a Melton Scholar and the Brian Stevens Analytics Student of the Year.

As a student, Seay participated in a vast array of co-curricular activities, volunteer service and internships. She presided over the Business Analytics Society as its president and served as a Haslam Ambassador, as well as a member of Project Inspire and the Heath IBEP Student Leadership Council. Seay also volunteered with Ijams Nature Center and the Oak Ridge Rowing Association and served as an intern for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pilot Company and Haslam.

Seay will enter Haslam’s Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) program in the fall and credits UT and Haslam with providing a support network, growth opportunities and real-world experience to supplement her classroom experience.

“Learning curriculum in the classroom is an amazing way to build a base before entering the workforce, and having real experience applying what I have learned has been the most satisfying part of my education,” she says. “Thanks to the incredible education I have received here, I feel confident that I have the tools I need to tackle any challenge or opportunity thrown my way in the future!”

Adam Spannbauer, a lecturer in the Department of Business Analytics and Statistics (BAS), believes Seay to be friendly, helpful, smart, motivated and a standout student in the BAS program. He anticipates that she will excel in the MSBA program.

“I expect Veda to keep doing what she’s been doing throughout the time I’ve known her: perform at an extremely high level academically, make those around her better and be a leader,” he says. “She’ll do great, and I hope she’s proud of what she’s done so far.”


Stacy Estep, writer/publicist, sestep3@utk.edu

Scott McNutt, business writer/publicist, rmcnutt4@utk.edu