March 26, 2021
By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer
“I always knew I wanted to teach,” says Dr. Michelle Cash, the winner of Roane State’s prestigious Outstanding Alumni Award for 2019. She will be recognized on Monday, March 29, 2021, as part of the community college’s virtual TBR SOAR Award Celebration.
She serves as the RN-BSN Program Coordinator at King University’s Knoxville campus while also working as a staff nurse in Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center’s newborn nursery. She has also served as an adjunct OB clinical instructor for Roane State.
Cash joins a distinguished group of Roane State alumni honored each year since 2004 for their accomplishments and their widely recognized leadership abilities.
“It’s a great honor to be selected,” the Kingston native said. “I’ve always treasured the education I received at Roane State.”
Cash was nominated for the honor by Dr. Rhonda Morgan, coordinator of King University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice Program. Morgan praised Cash for her “commitment to lifelong learning,” her contributions to the nursing profession, and her perseverance and innovations in nursing education.
For Cash, Roane State is a family tradition spanning three generations. Her father, the late Hobert Barnett Jr., graduated from Roane State in the late 1970s, while her daughter, Emily, graduated in May. She’s now attending King University and plans to become a veterinarian.
Cash entered Roane State after graduating from Roane County High School and received her associate of science degree in pre-nursing in 1993, followed two years later by earning her associate of applied science degree in nursing.
Cash said while attending Roane State, she took classes in what’s nicknamed the “horseshoe classroom” on the third floor of the Technology Building, recently renamed the Yager Building. “I dreamed that I wanted to teach there,” she recalled of the classroom, where desks are arranged in a horseshoe shape.
Then, years later, while teaching King University students in the horseshoe classroom, Cash suddenly realized that her dream from long ago had come true. “God gave me that,” she said of that moment.
Dr. Patricia Jenkins, dean of Roane State's Health Services Division, said the classroom still bears the horseshoe nickname. Jenkins worked with Cash in her role as a part-time instructor at Roane State and in her role at King University. "She is absolutely a delight," Jenkins said.
Cash fondly recalls her Roane State days. “All of the instructors were very good,” she said. “Roane State is known for really preparing nurses for the field.” Attending Roane State “just felt right. With its small classes, it was a very easy transition from high school to college.”
Cash earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nursing from Kaplan University’s online program and her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from King University.
She’s been active in her community with local sports programs for youth and serves in various church activities. She has served with Lost Sheep Ministry for the homeless populations in Knoxville, as well as providing services through Knoxville’s Harm Reduction Coalition for those affected by substance misuse.
Her husband, Jay Cash, is a supervisor for the state’s Department of Children’s Services. In addition to their daughter Emily, the couple also has a son, Noah, who is employed as a licensed insurance agent. He is a King University graduate as well.
Roane State’s virtual TBR SOAR Award Celebration, presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, will honor Dr. Cash as well as other alumni and philanthropy award recipients. The ceremony will be available to watch live on the college’s YouTube page beginning at 11 a.m. Eastern Time on March 29. The link to the page is youtube.com/roanestatecc.
The Roane State Foundation is a separate 501(c)(3) corporation governed by an independent board of directors and established to provide financial support for Roane State students and programs. The Foundation seeks to enhance community awareness of the college, to secure private contributions and bequests and to manage monies or properties given to the Foundation. The Foundation also manages the college’s Alumni Relations program. For more information, visit www.roanestate.edu/foundation or email Foundationdept@roanestate.edu.
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