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News: Grad says Roane State helped pave path to maturity

Jagger Coffey standing next to a brick wall

October 26, 2022

By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer

“Going to Roane State Community College was the best decision I could have made after high school,” Jagger Coffey says.

“[The college] helped build my character and work ethic,” said Coffey, 25, a Scott County native. “I made the right call to come to Roane State.”

Coffey freely admits he wasn’t ready to take college seriously when he first enrolled in the fall of 2015. He failed some of his initial classes and decided to drop out. “My maturity level was low,” he admits.

A chance encounter with Sharon Wilson, director of the college’s Scott County campus, was a pivotal step on his path to maturity. Wilson convinced him to return to classes and graduate.

“Without her help and guidance, I may not have finished school.”

Not only did he graduate from Roane State, Coffey went on to Tennessee Tech and obtained a bachelor’s degree in sociology.

His education led to his current job working with STAND (Schools Together Allowing No Drugs). The nonprofit coalition of organizations, businesses and individuals says it’s “focused on the health and well-being of the youth of Scott County.” Founded in 2000, STAND relies on state and federal grants for most of its annual budget.

As prevention coordinator for the coalition, Coffey says “I do a little bit of everything.” STAND works with local law enforcement agencies, advocates for policy changes related to drug and alcohol laws, and meets with community leaders to shape drug and alcohol policies.

Scott County is one of only a handful of Tennessee counties to mandate drug-testing of all athletes along with band members and cheerleaders.

After graduating from Scott High School, Coffey said he was enjoying the income from a job at a restaurant in Helenwood. It wasn’t until Wilson convinced him to return to college during their meeting that he saw a clear path for his future.

“One of the best things about community colleges is you’re close to home,” Coffey said. With grants and the Tennessee Promise scholarship, Coffey said he was able to get his associate degree for free.

He said two adjunct instructors at Roane State, Tressa Murphy and Matt Hundley, were outstanding. Murphy taught the statistics and probability class. Coffey failed that course the first time around but did well on his second try, when he said he “really paid attention.”

“She’s a great teacher,” he said of Murphy. “She was always trying to help us out.”

Hundley taught composition “and made the class interesting in his own way. He brought some excitement to the class.”

Wilson was his speech teacher and “helped me defeat that nervousness in public speaking.”

Coffey started his job at STAND at the start of the year and by summer, he’d decided to venture into Scott County politics.

He ran for a seat on the 14-member Scott County Commission and lost by a mere 10 votes.

Calling his campaign a “great experience,” Coffey said he may throw his hat in the ring again.

“I recommend every high school senior to start at a community college,” Coffey said. “Roane State gave me the tools to be successful in life.”

To learn more about enrolling at Roane State and resources available to current and incoming students, visit roanestate.edu/studentservices.

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