By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer
WARTBURG, Tenn. – One is a typical college student, finishing her first semester and undecided about her future.
Another graduate of tiny Sunbright High School will transfer to Tennessee Tech next fall. She’ll pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology there with a long-term goal of becoming either a marine biologist or a conservation scientist.
A third student at Roane State’s Morgan County campus is returning to college after a 20-year hiatus, and her plan is to obtain a nursing degree and work in a hospital’s critical care unit.
Despite their different backgrounds and goals, these three students at Roane State’s Morgan County campus agree: They’re getting quality educations in a convenient location.
“People that don’t take advantage of community college are all but crazy,” asserts Taylor Hall, 20.
“This is not a rich community,” she said of rural Morgan County, “And if you don’t take advantage of this (Roane State’s Morgan County campus) your education basically stops.”
Hall plans to take her college credits in biology and apply them next fall toward a bachelor’s degree in biology at Tennessee Tech.
She first took classes in computer science at Roane State’s Morgan County campus and switched to biology last spring. Associate professor Bruce Cantrell’s scuba-diving course last fall, which included a diving trip to Destin, Fla., inspired her to consider teaching, and then marine biology, as careers.
Hall praised what she called the “wonderful staff” at Roane State’s Morgan County campus. “They actually care about your education, and that’s hard to come by in larger schools.”
For Crystal Jones, 44, of Wartburg, her return to college has an economic incentive. After two decades as an LPN, Jones is back in college to obtain an associate degree and become a registered nurse.
She wants to become a critical care nurse after serving in that role while working as an LPN at Roane Medical Center and other medical facilities. With an RN license, “that’s big money,” she said of working in a hospital’s critical care unit.
Working full-time at a Wartburg nursing home, she’s about “topped out” as an LPN and is her family’s sole breadwinner now.
It’s “pretty rough” working 12-hour shifts, taking a full course load at Roane State and helping raise sons Jared, 11, and 7-year-old Jacob. Her husband, Jody Jones, has been an invaluable helper, she said.
This is her first semester back in college, she said, “and I had to jump in with both feet.” It’s helped that she’s just 10 minutes from home, she said. Jones praised the “good atmosphere” at the Wartburg campus.
For 19-year-old Kori Howard, who graduated in the spring from Sunbright High, her first semester at Roane State has been “a lot better than I expected, and a lot better than high school.”
“The staff is really friendly,” she said, and she’s keeping up with her studies in prerequisite courses. Howard is considering a career where she would work with young children. She said her mom, Veronica LaRue, graduated from Roane State last year.
There were 190 students enrolled at the Morgan County campus this semester, says Michelle Adkisson, a Roane State grad who has been the campus director since the $1.6 million facility opened in 2008.
“We’re growing and offering more on-site courses, including accelerated classes for adults in the evening,” she said. Non-traditional students make up about 15 percent of the enrollment.
The 7,200-square-foot campus includes two classrooms, an interactive classroom for distance education courses, a computer lab, offices for faculty and administration, and a student lounge.
For details about Roane State academic programs, contact the Morgan County campus at (423) 346-8700.
Spring classes begin Jan. 17. Apply now.
Tennessee's Community Colleges is a system of 13 colleges offering a high-quality, affordable, convenient and personal education to prepare students to achieve their educational and career goals in two years or less. All colleges in the system offer associate degree and certificate programs, workforce development programs and transfer pathways to four-year degrees.
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