Two students sit smiling at a formal meeting

AMAzing Opportunities

Experiential learning is a powerful tool that allows students to connect in-class learning with real-world experiences. For one student organization, these experiences have led to newfound connections and career opportunities.

AMAze™ is a student-led experiential learning group that operates through UT’s chapter of the American Marketing Association. Since its inception in 2020, the organization has partnered with local businesses and nonprofits to turn imaginative ideas into impactful deliverables. Projects are tailored to the partner’s needs and completed in up to eight weeks. The partners receive a live presentation as well as a printed copy.

Three AMAze students and three local organizations—St. Mary’s Legacy Clinic, the Widowed Parent Relief Project, and Weigel’s—formed meaningful and fruitful relationships that grew through their work.

St. Mary’s Legacy Clinic 

A few times a week, St. Mary’s Legacy Clinic hits the road in its self-proclaimed “family doctor’s office on wheels.” The mobile clinic has traveled thousands of miles since its inception in 2014, providing critical medical care to underserved communities in East Tennessee free of charge.

With a limited capacity for marketing, the organization connected with AMAze for help. In their first meeting, Rebecca Pipkins, community outreach coordinator for St. Mary’s Legacy Clinic, felt the connection in the room was instantly electric.

“The excitement on their part to learn about what we do was so contagious,” says Pipkins. “They played to their strengths and came together in such a wonderful way.”

St. Mary’s Legacy Clinic Executive Director Martin Vargas agrees, saying “The students were awesome. We implemented so many of the things they gave us.”

Jack Loveridge, a senior marketing and supply chain management major, who has called both Portland, Oregon, and Nashville home, feels lucky to have steered some of the projects he worked on with AMAze, though he especially loved serving as a co-leader for the St. Mary’s Legacy Clinic campaign.

“We were really impassioned about that project not only because of what they do but because of their energy,” says Loveridge. “They made it a collaborative experience and gave us whatever we needed to succeed. There was such an element of connection there.”

With AMAze’s help, St. Mary’s Legacy Clinic rolled out a new logo and testimonial video for its 10-year anniversary and hired a full-time staff member through its improved LinkedIn presence. Pipkins and Vargas say the help they received from AMAze not only set them up for success now but will continue to propel the clinic into the future.

Loveridge has already accepted a full-time position with PepsiCo in New York City. His work with AMAze and St. Mary’s Legacy Clinic was a critical part of his interview process, and he credits the experience with providing him the tangible leadership skills necessary to land the role.

Widowed Parent Relief Project

After suffering a stroke at 39 that almost took her from her husband and four children, Kelly Orrico wondered how widowed parents prioritized health and healing for their families amidst traumatic loss. Her question led her to found the Widowed Parent Relief Project in 2022, a nonprofit that aims to establish financial and emotional support to parents and children grieving the loss of a partner and parent.

“I know nothing about marketing and don’t have a creative marketing person at my fingertips to ask for help,” says Orrico, who was referred to AMAze by St. Mary’s Legacy Clinic. “For so long, we were hitting our heads against a wall trying to do it on our own.”

AMAze Vice President Leanne Hembree, a double major in business analytics and marketing from Atlanta, Georgia, was the project manager for her AMAze group. The work brought an unexpected but heartfelt surprise: Orrico is the mother of one of Hembree’s good friends.

“I didn’t realize that until we met for the first time,” says Hembree with a laugh.

The AMAze Group developed a new logo, testimonial videos, and social media content for the Widowed Parent Relief Project, all of which are currently in use. Orrico was in awe of what the students created, and she praised the compassionate and involved approach they took throughout the process.

“I loved working with all the students because their heart was in it,” says Orrico. “The way they talked with me and asked questions showed how much they cared. I loved everything they created. It brought our vision to life and made it all feel real.”

Hembree graduated in May and says the work she helped develop as part of AMAze set her apart from other candidates, helping her land a full-time job with Mars Petcare.

“I was able to recognize the concepts from my freshman year marketing classes in my work with AMAze, and it was easier for me to apply them because I’d already seen them and utilized them,” says Hembree. “I was able to bring the deliverables from AMAze projects to one of my job interviews, and the interviewer told me that that was actually the reason I beat out another candidate.”


No drive through East Tennessee is complete without a Weigel’s billboard sighting. The local convenience store chain, which opened its first store in 1931, is best known for its accessible locations, award-winning milk selection, and, of course, its witty marketing.

“It’s a company-wide joke that Mr. Weigel loves his billboards,” says Jack Riley (’22, ’24), a Knoxville native and AMAze student who transferred to UT from a local community college.

Riley joined AMAze during his last undergraduate semester at the encouragement of Cindy Raines, a distinguished lecturer in the Haslam College of Business as well as the group’s faculty advisor. He eventually took on a research role for the group’s Weigel’s project. Along the way, he met the company’s director of merchandising and marketing Nick Triantafellou, who had connected with AMAze to develop a brand identity and marketing strategy for Weigel’s’ new hot-and-ready chicken.

The students developed a campaign that included proposing the name Dippin’ Chicken™, which Weigel’s ultimately adopted.

“I think working with this group is one of the smartest things you can do as a marketing department,” says Triantafellou. “Even if you only get one tiny little thing out of it, the connections you make and the work that’s put in are worth it.”

And those connections were certainly made. Riley and Triantafellou formed a close bond while working on the project, and eventually, Riley accepted a full-time position with Weigel’s.

“Everyone in this office really loves Jack,” says Triantafellou. “He’s so different from what this industry has traditionally been, and it’s nice to have a completely different lens and human on the team. He’s great for what we do.”

Riley credits AMAze for helping him find his way. The process of developing a marketing campaign with the rest of his team was rewarding, and the relationships he cultivated with Triantafellou and other members of the Weigel’s team gave him a renewed sense of purpose.

“That was my favorite part,” Riley remembers. “Getting to hang out with my bosses before they became my bosses and feeling like this career is going to turn into something fun.”

Student work (above right) inspired the look and feel for Dippin’ Chicken posts on Weigel’s Instagram (above left).

AMAze welcomes students from all majors and classes as well as new partnership opportunities. Contact Cindy Raines at

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