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News: Roane State students enjoy Welcome Back activities

News: Roane State students enjoy Welcome Back activities

Roane State students, from left, Mia Humphrey, Preston Vann and Sascha Brennan talk in the atrium of Roane State’s Coffey-McNally Building at the Oak Ridge campus during the first week of school.

Sept. 7, 2018

By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer

“I’m a little bit excited and a little bit nervous.”

Second-year student Mia Humphrey’s comments were typical of many as they resumed classes and studies at Roane State Community College.

The last week of August was the first week of fall semester and the first for approximately 734 students attending Roane State using the new Tennessee Reconnect grant that makes college tuition-free for adults.

Faculty and staff at the college’s nine campuses rolled out the red carpet for students of all ages with activities and exhibits accompanying “Welcome Back Week,” a celebration that’s become a tradition spanning two decades.

On the Oak Ridge campus, students clustered in the Coffey-McNally Building atrium to scarf up giveaways ranging from cell phone accessories to pens to candy. Others clambered up or scrambled down the main stairway to and from classes.

Outside, free sno-cones were available as the temperature climbed toward the 90-degree mark.

When interviewed, Mia Humphrey was in the midst of her second day of courses and already, she said, “I have lots of homework.” But, she quickly added, “Classes are going well.”

Preston Vann of Wartburg said he “forgot how tiring it was” to get up before dawn and spend the day in classes. Nevertheless, he said, “I’m glad to be back.”

First-year student Jose Vega makes the 75-minute drive from Monterey, Tenn., to take mechatronics classes at the Higher Education and Workforce Training Facility in Clinton. It’s the first step toward an envisioned career in mechanical and aeronautical engineering, he said.

A graduate of the private Heritage Academy in tiny Monterey, Jose said attending Roane State is a “new experience for me. I’ve never been in a public school.” So far, he gives a thumbs-up to his Roane State experience, adding, “I hope it gets better and better.”

Second year student Madison Pitkanen of Knoxville, studying radiologic technology, said she was glad to be at Roane State. “I was ready to come back and have a schedule and some structure in my life.”

Karlie Nicol of Prince George, Va., said she’s in the occupational therapy assistant program. “It’s stressful, but it’s fun,” she said of classes.

As for her first days of studies, first-year student Taylor Frerichs of Sweetwater said she likes Roane State “a lot better than high school. It gives you more freedom, and I like my teachers a lot so far.”

Check out photos from Welcome Back week.

Roane State is a two-year college providing transfer programs, career-preparation programs and continuing education. Founded in 1971, the college has campuses in Crossville, Harriman, Huntsville, Jamestown, Knoxville, LaFollette, Lenoir City, Oak Ridge and Wartburg.

For more information, visit or call (865) 882-4554.

Remember, eligible adults can now attend Roane State tuition-free with the new Reconnect grant. Learn more at

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