Financial Hardship and Food Insecurity on Campus: Panel Discussion, March 9
February 21, 2023

Given the rising cost of obtaining a college degree, it’s no wonder that many college students experience financial hardship — and even food insecurity. The stress of financial pressures inevitably has a detrimental effect on students’ academic performance.

To learn about support services available at UT, attend our Lunch and Learn panel discussion on financial hardship and food insecurity among college students. Join us Thursday, March 9, noon to 1:30 p.m. — either in person at the Student Union, Room 360, or online at

The Office of the Dean of Students offers support services to supply basic needs in an emergency, including the Student Emergency Fund and Big Orange Pantry. UT’s Center for Financial Wellness offers training and one-on-one appointments to help students make informed financial decisions.

Panelists will include: Blake Weiss, program director for basic needs, and Johanna Ramb, coordinator for basic needs, with the Office of the Dean of Students; Nicole Carvagno, UT student and director of Smokey’s Pantry (a food pantry for Tennessee Vols); and Javiette Samuel, associate vice chancellor for diversity and engagement. Philippa Satterwhite, coordinator of financial wellness and education for UT’s Center for Financial Wellness, will moderate the discussion.

About our panelists:

Nicole Carvagno is a junior at the University of Tennessee majoring in supply chain management with a double minor in sustainability and religious studies. A member of Haslam’s premier honors organization, the Smith Global Leadership Scholars, Nicole has engaged heavily in her community and developed a want to help solve the food insecurity around her. While volunteering at Smokey’s Pantry, she worked as a supply chain intern at the Big Orange Pantry for a semester before being offered the role of director at Smokey’s Pantry after two years of volunteer work.

Johanna Ramb earned her BS in Physical Education from Florida International University where she worked with all aspects of leadership as well as being the Student Program Coordinator for their food pantry. In 2021 she started at the University of Tennessee in the College Student Personnel Program where she is working towards her master’s degree in the realm of higher education. She supervised a number of initiatives for the Office of the Dean of Students as a graduate assistant and at the end of her first year took on a full-time role as the Coordinator for Basic Needs. Basic Needs as an initiative, is brand new to the University of Tennessee, but the campus saw a need among our community and created this role that Johanna was the first to step into. Johanna is proud to be a Volunteer and strives every day to create equitable spaces where students, faculty, and staff feel welcomed and comfortable. 

Javiette Samuel is the associate vice chancellor for diversity and engagement, director of community engagement and outreach, and affiliated associate professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies. She is an experienced engaged scholar with a unique combination of educational, interpersonal, and creative skills. She has worked with underrepresented P-20 students, families, faculty, and communities for nearly 25 years. Focusing on engagement, outreach, and evidence-based programs, her primary applied research interests have been child development, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), positive youth development, parenting, and family well-being. She is especially passionate about addressing educational disparities, early warning signs of disengagement from school and learning, mentoring, and increasing parental involvement.

Blake Weiss currently serves as the Program Director for Basic Needs with the Office of the Dean of Students. In this role, Blake provides strategy and direction for basic needs services and supports, including the Student Emergency Fund, Big Orange Pantry, and Smokey’s Closet. Blake’s professional experiences include strategic project management in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Life at UTK and neighborhood relations work at the University of South Carolina. Blake has an MS in Higher Education from Florida State University, a BA in Psychology from the University of Mississippi, and is currently completing his PhD in Higher Education Administration from UTK. 

Moderator: Philippa Satterwhite is the Coordinator of Financial Wellness and Education for the Center for Financial Wellness at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she is responsible for creating and supporting a campus-wide financial wellness strategy. Prior to her current position, Philippa served as a One Stop Counselor. Philippa has worked with college students in a professional capacity for over 15 years. She earned a BA in English and an MA in Philosophy from Howard University.