November 17, 2020
By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer
A Tennessee Reconnect student from Knoxville won a laptop computer in the inaugural “I’m First” essay contest sponsored by Roane State. The competition was for students who are the first in their family to navigate the challenges of college.
Amy Helmendach’s composition is titled “Doing Dishes.” College, she wrote, “opens my mind to new possibilities.” She likened her childhood chore of rinsing dishes to “refining of skills, the pursuit of a college education.”
“College has revealed my habits, my outlook on life, what drives me, and what I want to pursue,” Helmendach wrote. “These experiences remind me of that cool rinsing water, revealing I have the opportunity to refine my skills and pursue a college education.”
Helmendach wants to obtain a Roane State associate’s degree in sociology, taking online courses on a part-time basis while she also works full-time at a facility where medical equipment is manufactured.
The single parent of an 8-year-old boy, she plans to eventually seek bachelor’s and master’s degrees and possibly become a teacher. “I’m going in for the long haul,” she said.
Her Roane State experience has been “very positive” after earlier attending another community college she said “wasn’t for me.” Several people told her about Roane State. “They all loved it,” she said, “so I thought I’d give it a try.”
She had several in-person classes before the COVID-19 pandemic and speaks highly of adjunct instructor Jerome Mioduski who taught statistics. “I’ve never been big on math and was pretty intimidated,” she said. “He was really good about explaining things.”
She also praised another adjunct instructor, Anthony Jenkins, who teaches anatomy and physiology. “He was great.”
Jennifer Fugate, Roane State’s student engagement coordinator, said Roane State faculty judged the contest. “Hopefully we can make this event happen again next year,” she said.
Roane State Community College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, ethnicity or national origin, sex, disability, age, status as protected veteran or any other class protected by Federal or State laws and regulation and by Tennessee board of Regents policies with respect to employment, programs, and activities. View full non-discrimination policy.