Benjamin Crilly

We don’t lose sight of what it means to be volunteers and that starts here at home

Accounting & Information Management - Student

Senior Benjamin Crilly exemplified the volunteer spirit long before enrolling at the Haslam College of Business. In 2007 he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and spent seven years on active duty in Afghanistan.

“It was a lifelong goal of mine since I watched the Marine Corps Band on the steps of the Capitol as a young kid,” he said of his decision to enlist.

While in Afghanistan, Crilly worked on Operation Enduring Freedom twice, serving as a combat correspondent and later as an infantry rifleman. In 2010, his unit took a stronghold in Marjah, and a year later he was deployed with 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment to the Sangin Valley.

Crilly was injured in Afghanistan and medically retired from combat arms service in 2015. While undergoing treatment, he served as the chief instructor of a marksmanship training unit at Camp Pendleton. He achieved the rank of sergeant and said the experience has been pivotal in developing his leadership skills, which he’s continued to fine tune while at Haslam.

“I selected UT for my degree because of the strength of the Haslam College of Business,” he said. Crilly is completing his undergraduate degree in May and plans to continue in the Master of Accountancy program.

“At UT, we don’t lose sight of what it means to be volunteers and that starts here at home,” he said. 

Both before and after his time in the Marines, Crilly actively contributed to his local community. In high school, he worked with the Knoxville Fire Department and raised guide dogs for Leader Dog for the Blind and the Tennessee Valley Golden Retriever Dogs Association.  He and his wife, Lena, currently coach 4-H judging teams together. Crilly is also an active member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post number 10855, is involved with Beta Alpha Psi, and tutors sophomore and junior accounting students.

The volunteer spirit runs strong through his family: three of his siblings attended UT and his father was an electrical engineering professor at UT. More than simply college enthusiasm though, Crilly derives part of his dedication to others from the care he received as a child.

“I was adopted as an orphan in Sofia, Bulgaria,” he said. “I have been so blessed in life with unimaginable opportunities, and I strive to be able to give back to others in some way.”