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News: Roane State graduate looks forward to career in journalism

Jenkins under a dock near water

August 23, 2021

By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer

From the start, Kaleigh Jenkins knew Roane State was right for her. After all, both parents attended Roane State and strongly encouraged her to consider the nearby community college.

“I thought going to a four-year school was not the right step for me,” the 20-year-old said.

So after graduating from Harriman High School, Jenkins enrolled at Roane State and hasn’t looked back. She graduated this summer and is looking forward to her future, which she hopes involves journalism.

She received an associate degree in mass communications and is enrolled this fall at University of Tennessee-Knoxville, where she’ll be pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communications.

During her Roane State experience, Jenkins was a cheerleader at boys’ and girls’ basketball games and enjoyed attending in-person classes at Roane State’s flagship campus in Roane County during the fall semester of 2019.

But the whole world changed in 2020 when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. Roane State joined other higher education institutions by converting almost entirely online.

Jenkins was taking sociology then, taught by Associate Professor Valerie Herd. “She was the most interesting, funny, relatable professor I’ve ever had. She made learning fun,” Jenkins said.

The transition to online learning proved difficult for Jenkins. “I thrive with in-person learning,” she said. Half of her classes were in-person last semester and she said that made a difference, allowing her to be more focused and avoid procrastinating.

Jenkins was in a work-study program at Roane State and did work for her Success Coach, Jennifer Fugate, who since then has been named Roane State’s student engagement coordinator. She said the work-study program was beneficial to her finances, offered a flexible schedule and helped her learn more about the community college.

She’s also planning to work at a University of Tennessee department while continuing her education.

“Roane State has helped me put my name out there and has provided a safe place for me to grow my interests,” she said.

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