In 2004, Roane State began recognizing outstanding alumni for their contributions to their professions and to their communities. Whether they are doctors, lawyers or artists, the award-winners share a common characteristic — leadership.
The following record of Outstanding Alumni winners includes brief excerpts from articles about the recipients. The articles were published in the college’s alumni magazine, Roane State Today.
As the excerpts show, Roane State played an instrumental role in the lives of the recipients. Perhaps it was an encouraging faculty member, a kind advisor or a challenging course that changed a life. Regardless, the value of Roane State as a builder of leaders is the common tie.
List M. Chadwick attended Roane State Community College from 1989-1991 graduating Magna Cum Laude with an Associate Degree in Nursing. However, prior to coming to Roane State she had already earned her B.S. from Berry College in Mt. Berry, Georgia obviously realizing her true calling was in health services. After graduating from Roane State with a degree in nursing, she enrolled in and completed her M.S. degree in Health Services Administration from the University of St. Francis, Joliet, Illinois with Academic Distinction.
As for her professional experience, upon graduating from Roane State, Lisa accepted a nurse staff position at Methodist Medical Center in Acute Care. In 1997 she was promoted to Assistant Manager of Oncology, also at Methodist Medical Center. This began a long working relationship with MMC as she progressed to Manager of Oncology, and other positions of increasing responsibility within the Covenant Health System.
Presently Lisa is the Director of Risk Management of Functional Pathways in Knoxville where she developed the risk management program for the 125 National facilities serviced by Functional Pathways, a physical, occupational, and speech therapy contracting organization.
During the years when Lisa was involved with the Oncology program at Methodist Medical Center she helped organize the Relay for Life which benefits the American Cancer Society.
She has also been a long time supporter of the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, participating in several of their sponsored endurance events such as half marathon races, not only as a runner, but assisting with the water stations.
Other organizations benefiting from her expertise and energy are Remote Area Medical (RAM), an organization that provides free dental, vision, and medical care to underserved communities, where Lisa has volunteered her services as a triage nurse. In addition she supports community organizations such as KARM and the PBS fund-raising telethon.
However, Lisa's greatest joy has come from three medical mission trips to Nicaragua and Honduras where she recalls "This was probably the most rewarding thing I have ever done as a nurse; those folks are so very grateful to have someone provide care and show concern."
Dr. Whitney (Nelson) Emch is a 1995 graduate of Roane County High school. She was enrolled at Roane State from 1995-1997 before transferring to MTSU where she earned her BS in Geology. She went on to earn a PhD in Geology from the University of Tennessee. Whitney credits Roane State and her best friend’s father, Dr. Pete Chartin for sparking her interest in Geology.
She began working for the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) in 2008 as a visiting scientist. She served as a Project Scientist and Branch Chief for Sensing and Signatures in NGA’s Basic and Applied Research Office prior to her current role where she is responsible for test and evaluation of new and emerging GEOINT technology and tradecraft solutions in support of the warfighter.
Dr. Emch is the recipient of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Meritorious Unit Citation, DNI Science and Technology Team Award, multiple NGA Meritorious Unit Citations, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Service Chief Fellow, the National System for Geospatial-Intelligence (NGS) Imagery and Geospatial Sciences Team of the Year Award, the NSG Imagery and Geospatial Sciences Project Scientist of the Year Award, and the Civilian Global War on Terrorism Medal.
Just this year Dr. Emch was named by President Obama as a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. The awards are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach
She is currently serving as the Subject Matter Expert for the NGA’s Center of Academic Excellence in Geospatial Studies effort with Roane State. She will be working closely with Roane State’s GIS Department during this 3 year effort, the purpose of which is to train GIS students for careers with NGA and its partners. She visited Roane State this past November and participated in the GIS Day event, and met with students, instructors, and the program Advisory Committee. Her involvement is invaluable in preparing the GIS students for federal government geospatial careers, and is opening many doors for our students. In addition, Dr. Emch will be working with local high school students to inspire future careers in science and engineering. This initial effort is with Morgan County Career and Technical Center.
After graduating from Harriman High School in 1969, Bruce Cantrell enlisted in the Navy and served in Vietnam. He came to Roane State in 1973, and in 1975, he was part of the college’s third graduating class.
“When I came to Roane State I was right out of the military,” Cantrell said. “I wanted to do everything. I was in student government. I was on the debate team. I got involved with the newspaper. One day, the debate coach, Bill Yates, pulled me aside, and he said ‘Bruce, you can’t do everything. You’ve got to pick and choose and do what you want to do, and do it well.’ That advice from Bill, through the years, has been a guide.”
Yates’ advice, and Cantrell’s work ethic, led him to focus on three areas – service, science, and teaching. Cantrell graduated from Tennessee Tech in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in biology. He joined the U.S. Army and served for 15 years, rising to the rank of major.
During his second stint of military service, Cantrell attended a variety of schools including Air Assault School, Security Management, Terrorism Counteraction, and Nuclear and Chemical Target Analysis. He led a team that provided specialized training in nuclear, chemical and biological weapons defense. Agencies that Cantrell’s team trained included the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Secret Service and the CIA. Cantrell is a regular guest lecturer at the Defense Intelligence College.
Cantrell also earned his master’s in biology from American University. As a graduate student, he participated in a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research program studying ocean dumping and marine pollution. Cantrell’s love for marine science, which traces back to his Navy service and his coursework at Tennessee Tech, is a passion he shares with his students.
A certified divemaster with multiple specialty certifications, Cantrell has taken students to Key Largo, Costa Rica and Honduras to give them field experience in marine science. Many students who participate have never seen an ocean. In fall 2014, Cantrell and colleague Jessica Fain lived underwater for 73 days, setting a new world record while educating people around the world about the importance of the oceans.
Cantrell began teaching at Roane State in 1992, pausing briefly to serve in the state legislature, and he remains heavily involved in community service.
“Roane State is probably one of the biggest blessings that Roane County has ever had,” Cantrell said. “It opened up postsecondary education to so many people who would never have gotten it. Over the years, we have expanded that. Every year, we are bringing education to the people. The more we grow, the more people we get to serve, and the faculty will go wherever we are needed.”
A 2005 graduate of Harriman High School, Dr. Eble graduated magna cum laude from Roane State in 2007 with an associate degree in biology.
Dr. Eble transferred to East Tennessee State University, where he graduated summa cum laude in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. Dr. Eble played baseball at Roane State, and his career path blends his background as an athlete and his interest in medicine. As an undergraduate at ETSU, Dr. Eble worked with the college’s athletes and decided to pursue physical therapy. He earned his doctor of physical therapy from ETSU in December 2012.
“Roane State was a great experience for me,” Dr. Eble said. “I was able to stay at home. I was able to stay close to my family and friends while getting an education. Roane State offers a lot of opportunities. You have one-on-one relationships with your teachers and smaller classes. For me, it was a better learning experience, and it really set the foundation for me at the next level. I think that’s why I was so successful at ETSU because I got a good foundation here.”
Dr. Eble said Roane State’s professors helped him establish a good academic foundation and position him for success on the challenging road to becoming a doctor.
“When I started out, my first few grades were not exactly what I wanted them to be,” he said. “My teachers were all on site. They were all accessible. They taught me how to study, how to prepare for eight-chapter tests, things I wasn’t capable of doing at the time.”
Dr. Eble uses his knowledge of physical therapy to serve his community. He provides injury prevention programs to area schools and offers free injury screenings to high school athletes. Dr. Eble has provided community seminars on injury prevention and on concussions. He supports organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club and area athletic programs.
Dr. Eble also provides internships to Roane State physical therapist assistant students and participates in career days to raise awareness of opportunities within his field.
“I had a great time when I was here,” Dr. Eble said. “It was tough in that I had to grow up a little bit faster than I wanted to, but I am glad that I chose this path instead of a four-year university because I know that I wasn’t ready for that. Roane State was a perfect opportunity and stepping stone for me.”
A flight test engineer who evaluates U.S. Navy aircraft and an educator who launched a successful company are Roane State’s outstanding alumni for 2014.
The recipients are Will Hoagland of Lexington Park, Md. and Teresa Caldwell Chasteen of Kingston. Hoagland is an engineer with U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). Chasteen is president and CEO of WIN Learning, a Kingston-based education technology firm.
Hoagland, the son of Roane State emeritus professors Bill and Judy Hoagland, is a 2002 graduate of Midway High School. He finished his associate of science at Roane State in 2005. Hoagland graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.
Hoagland joined NAVAIR as an engineer assigned to aircraft testing and evaluation. His roles have included integrated communications test and evaluation flight test engineer supporting the VH-71A presidential helicopter program; deputy assistant program manager for test and evaluation supporting the E-6B Airborne Strategic Command, Control and Communications Program Office; and E-6B block I upgrade test and evaluation flight test engineer supporting the E-6B Airborne Strategic Command, Control and Communications Program Office.
Hoagland is responsible for analyzing flight test data and determining the safety and effectiveness of flight systems. He completed the Naval Air Systems Command Engineer and Scientist Development Program and has logged approximately 100 flight test hours.
While Hoagland attended Roane State, he participated in campus activities and in athletics. He traveled to England, Scotland and Wales with the college’s European Studies program. When Hoagland returns home, he regularly attends college events. In nominating Hoagland for the Outstanding Alumni Award, Dr. Don Miller wrote, “Roane State could not have a better ambassador than Will Hoagland.”
“Roane State was critical for me coming from a small high school,” Hoagland said. “The small class sizes and engaging teachers allowed me to sample a variety of opportunities. It was a big help to engage with the professors and get guidance on where my life would take me.”
Chasteen graduated from Roane County High School in 1978 and attended Roane State from 1977-1980. She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Tennessee and completed a post-doctoral program in education policy and governance at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Chasteen returned to Roane State as an assistant professor from 1985-1993. She later taught at Pellissippi State, Hiwassee College and Tennessee Tech University.
Chasteen and her brother, Matt Caldwell, co-founded Worldwide Interactive Network (WIN) in 1996. More than 10 million students have participated in WIN Learning’s programs. WIN has clients in all 50 states and 10 countries, and the company won three national awards for its curriculum in 2014.
Chasteen co-authored the book “It's the Educonomy, Stupid! Redefining America's Workforce System: A Practitioner's Guide.” EdTech Digest in 2011 named her among 100 People Making a Difference for Digital Learning Now.
Chasteen has worked with Roane State on numerous grant projects. She is heavily involved in the community and in nonprofit work, including raising funds for Knox Area Rescue Ministries and assisting with Relay for Life. Chasteen climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 2012 to raise funds for Treasures of Africa AIDS Orphanage.
Chasteen is married to the Rev. Eddie Chasteen. They have two children, Blake and Jessica, and one grandchild, Antonia. All four of Chasteen’s siblings attended Roane State as did her mother, Marie Caldwell.
“Roane State was a godsend for me and my family that enabled a very disadvantaged family to achieve the American Dream,” Chasteen said. “We are forever grateful and indebted to Roane State.”
Dr. Chester Goad started at Roane State in 1990, taking classes in Scott County. For a period of time, he worked three jobs while pursuing his education. He is now director of disability services for Tennessee Tech University.
“I took classes in a little red building; it used to be a lumber yard,” he said. “One of my first classes was with my Dad, who was seeking a college education. He finished his four-year degree in business management before I finished my four-year degree. For him, it was a dream come true.”
Goad was not far behind his father. He received his bachelor’s degree in secondary education at Tennessee Tech, where he also earned a master’s in instructional leadership. Goad completed his doctorate in educational leadership (with an emphasis in special education) at the University of the Cumberlands.
Goad has served as president of the Tennessee Association on Higher Education and Disability (TNAHEAD) and as vice president of the Tennessee Dyslexia Association. His work has been featured in the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, The Tennessean, Learning Ally's Access and Achievement, and the Jossey-Bass Wiley periodical Disability Compliance in Higher Education. In 2012, Dr. Goad was honored by TNAHEAD with the Dona Sparger Professional Service Award for his commitment to issues of access for students with disabilities.
“Roane State has meant opportunities,” he said. “I had the opportunity to grow and meet lots of amazing professors who made a lasting impact on me. I will never forget the roots that I have here.”
Melody Price is the daughter of W. Carroll Marsalis, one the college’s first faculty and staff (affectionately known as the “Dirty Dozen”). Price recalled seeing her Dad’s office back when the college opened in 1971. As she described it, the office “was in a small house on the cutoff road between Midtown and Harriman.”
“Little did we know that the opportunity was a great one and that our lives would be so positively affected by Roane State Community College,” she said.
Price graduated in 1980 and earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Tennessee. She taught special needs students before eventually starting her own business, a boutique called Frox on Broad, located in Dunn, N.C.
Price is heavily involved in her community. She works with local domestic violence prevention programs, volunteers with chambers of commerce, serves with civic clubs and was the lead business proprietor for a municipal restoration initiative.
Price traces her commitment to civic engagement to her time at Roane State.
“Roane State gave me a very good jump start,” she said. “I was involved in a lot of leadership activities that I probably would not have been a part of at a larger institution. But then when I moved on in life, I carried that with me.”
“Roane State was a part of my preteen years, my teenage years and my college years.” Price added. “The impact that Roane State has had on my life as been outstanding. It’s home.”
Jeff Burchfield is a captain and training supervisor for the Blount County Sheriff’s Office. Burchfield graduated from Roane State in 1993 with an associate’s degree in police technology. He spent eight years with the Maryville Police Department before joining the Blount County Sheriff’s Office in 1996.
In 2001, he became the first director of the Blount Special Operations Response Team, a multiagency task force for rescue and recovery operations. The team is a model of cross-agency cooperation and collaboration. He has studied at the FBI National Academy and worked undercover for numerous federal agencies.
Burchfield is also a community-minded leader who has participated in youth projects and fundraisers for those in need. As a member of Lodge No. 9 of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), he was head counselor for the lodge’s youth camp for underprivileged children and an organizer for the lodge’s “Shop with a Cop” program. He has served in many officer positions with the FOP, is a board member for the Blount County Rescue Squad and is a public safety scuba instructor.
During his career, Burchfield has received more than 20 awards and commendations. In January 2012, he received the Albert Pierce Medal for Heroism in recognition of his achievements.
Dr. Vann is director of the Ed.D. program at the University of the Cumberlands. He graduated from Roane State in 1985 and received his bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Tech in 1988. He has a master’s degree in geosciences from Western Kentucky University, a doctorate in adult education from the University of Arkansas, and a Ph.D. dually awarded by the Department of Geographical and Earth Sciences and the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.
Dr. Vann taught at the University of Dundee in Scotland, served in leadership positions at Delta State University in Mississippi and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, and was founding director of Lincoln Memorial University’s Appalachian Development Studies program and geography program. He is most noted for his work in religious and historical geography and human-environmental relationships. Dr. Vann has appeared as an expert on Fox News, Science Fantastic, Ecotopia and BBC Scotland.
Dr. Vann is a distinguished writer and educator who has written more than 20 articles and seven books. His writings have appeared in the Huffington Post, the Journal of Historical Sociology, the Journal of American History and in many other academic publications.
Brown began his academic studies at Roane State in the fall of 1985 and later transferred to the University of Tennessee to study theatrical costume design. After graduation, he moved to New York City to pursue his career in the field of entertainment design. While in New York, his work spanned across a variety of entertainment venues including Broadway, network sitcoms and dramas, and major motion pictures. In 2003 Stephen purchased a home in Rockwood (his hometown) and began to split his time between Tennessee and New York City. He developed the company Glitterville, a multimillion-dollar giftware and lifestyles company that became a worldwide brand by 2004 and remains a thriving success.
Kelly graduated from Roane State in 1987 with an A.S. in nursing. She is board certified in gerontology and has numerous certifications in her field through the National Association of Director of Nursing Administration LTC, American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Nurses Association. Kelly has served as director of nursing at Colonial Hills Nursing Center, director of nursing at Rockwood Care and Rehab, director of nursing at Farragut Health Care Center and Alzheimer’s unit director at the Knoxville Health Care Center. Kelly is currently director of nursing at Summit View of Farragut.
Lay graduated magna cum laude from Roane State in 1975. Besides mathematics and speech, Lay excelled in basketball. He played at Roane State and continued his college career at Stetson University in Florida. Lay recently retired from Scott County Schools in 2009 after serving over 30 years in education and having pioneered many firsts in technology for Scott County schools. But true to his nature and not content to sit still after retirement, Lay accepted an offer from PCS, Inc. where he serves as an education sales consultant. Lay remains a sought-after speaker, having presented and facilitated multiple technology-related presentations at conferences and meetings over the years.
From the 2010 Roane State Today
McKenrick lives in Oak Ridge with her husband, Don. She graduated from Oak Ridge High School in 1974 but was uncertain whether she could succeed in college. “I wasn’t sure I had what it took to be a college student,” she said. “During my high school years, my focus was my mother’s health. She had terminal cancer. We dealt with surgeries and remissions and recurrences, so I was marginal academically. I waited for a year to enroll at Roane State, and I fell in love with the campus. The faculty had more confidence in me than I did. It was during that first year that I changed my major to education, because of the influence the faculty had on me.” …
… She joined Harriman High School’s faculty in 1990 as a special education teacher and has stayed in that role. McKenrick is the Special Education Department Chair, serves as a mentor for special education faculty, has presented at local and state conferences, and has received numerous honors for her work. She was also instrumental in developing the Prom Closet Boutique, a program that provides special education students with formalwear for the school prom. “After thirty years in the classroom, I am still inspired to reach out and encourage students because I personally know that it does make a lasting difference in their quality of life,” McKenrick said.
From the 2009 Roane State Today
During her professional career, she was a manager with Ernst & Young LLP and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young U.S. LLC in Atlanta; a manager at Humana Inc’s corporate offices in Louisville, KY; vice president for Channel Publishing Co. in Reno, Nev.; and a manager for Cascade Information Systems in Beaverton, Ore. Laing’s profession also led her to consult on a Department of Defense contract, reviewing military medical records throughout Europe, Iceland, and the Azores. In 2003, she founded Laing and Associates, Inc., a healthcare consulting company, and is its president.
“My educational preparation at RSCC was challenging and joyous,” Laing said. “This award is to honor my instructors, all of them, and is a reflection of their commitment to education. They should never think the precious gift of their time and energy is for naught. They will always be our teachers, and that debt is never forgotten.”
From the 2009 Roane State Today
Dr. Perkins is recognized not just for his contributions to the medical profession and to the community, but because he has always had a heart for people in need. … “As I now look back through my education, I appreciate my start at Roane State Community College,” Dr. Perkins said. “The important part was not only the academics, but the staff that had a caring attitude and willingness to help students. As I finish my education, this attitude of the Roane State Community College staff has helped me understand the importance of caring for people.”
Dr. Perkins has spent countless hours helping those in need. After Hurricane Katrina, he served on two disaster management and recovery teams in New Orleans. Later, during Hurricane Gustav, he volunteered to remain in New Orleans to treat patients. He volunteers at the Rebuild Clinic in New Orleans, which offers free medical service to the homeless. While in medical school in Nashville, Dr. Perkins worked with Habitat for Humanity, volunteered at homeless shelters in Knoxville, and organized angel trees to supply gifts to the homeless through Water Angels Ministries.
From the 2008 Roane State Today
Moses, formerly Allison Taylor, is vice president and general manager of Volvo Construction Equipment in Skyland, N.C. She is the first woman in VCE history to reach such a position. …
Moses credits Roane State and her family with helping her become an engineer. Her father worked in manufacturing for years, so Allison knew early on that she wanted to be an engineer. But Moses struggled with the advanced math a career in engineering demands. Her Roane State math professor, Becky Howard, encouraged Moses and mentored her and other students after hours. The perseverance worked. Eventually, the concepts started making sense, and Moses never had problems with math again.
“Had it not been for Roane State, I would not be an engineer today,” Moses said. “I’m not sure I would have gotten here without the personal attention I received at Roane State.”
From the 2008 Roane State Today
“Barger, 31, is president of precast operations at C.R. Barger & Sons Inc., a Roane County company founded in 1967 by Eric’s grandparents, C.R. and Mary Barger. The 1994 Harriman High School graduate completed his A.S. degree at Roane State in 1997. He then earned a degree in civil engineering from Tennessee Technological University.
“There is no doubt in my mind that if I had not come to Roane State Community College, I would never have made it through civil engineering,” Barger said. “I think Roane State is a great school made up of great people. All of my best college memories stem from this school.”
From the 2007 Roane State Today
Bernadette Mattox is a former star college basketball player who is an assistant coach for the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun. A native of Philadelphia, Tenn., Mattox graduated from Loudon High School in 1977.
She began her college basketball career at Roane State, graduated in 1979, and followed her coach, Andy Landers, to the University of Georgia. “Roane State was the beginning of me understanding what education would do for me,” Mattox said. “The faculty, staff and administration were a family that really emphasized the importance of education. Everyone there was very helpful and inspirational to me.
“Anytime I make a step in my life or career, I reflect back on Roane State. I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate Roane State for giving me support and encouragement. All of my success started there.” …
… She made NCAA history when she became the first female to serve as a Division I assistant for a men’s team, beginning a four-year stint under coach Rick Pitino at Kentucky in 1990. Mattox was named an assistant athletics director at Kentucky in 1994. In 1995, Mattox became the first African-American to coach Kentucky women’s basketball.
From the 2007 Roane State Today
He attended Belmont College in Nashville before transferring to Roane State in 1976. After Roane State, McDaniel transferred to Carson-Newman and earned a bachelor’s degree in communications.
“As with many young people trying to find their way, Roane State opened some windows of opportunity for me which really took me in a direction for the rest of my life,” McDaniel said. “Getting to know faculty and staff that were really concerned about me helped me find some direction based on my interests and abilities.” …
… In the 1990s, McDaniel found his true passion— writing and producing documentaries. His works include a two-installment, award-winning documentary about Oak Ridge. In 2006, McDaniel completed “The Clinton 12,” which tells the story of the first desegregation of a public high school in the South after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
From the 2006 Roane State Today
Darlene Branim started work as a receptionist at the Oneida-based log home company (ed: Barna Log Homes), which is known internationally for the quality of its products, in 1983. She was promoted often through the years, as she balanced work, family and school. “The challenges, demands and opportunities I experienced at Roane State and Tusculum prepared me and gave me the confidence to reach for the stars. I would not trade the experience or my education for anything.”
In 2001, Branim was named executive vice president at Barna. She became president and CEO in 2004 and bought the company in 2005.
From the 2006 Roane State today
As head of the police department in one of Tennessee’s fastest-growing cities (ed: Maryville), Tony Crisp faces a new challenge almost every day. The same spirit that helps Crisp meet those demands also led him to enroll at Roane State as an adult who had already started a career and family.
“Although I had several years of experience in law enforcement prior to my enrollment, I wanted to continue to broaden my knowledge and increase my opportunity for advancement,” Crisp said. “I am very proud to be a graduate of Roane State.”
From the 2005 Roane State Today
Rhonda Longmire remembers her bank co-workers wondering why she wanted a college degree. Today, as president and CEO of First National Bank of Oneida, she has a ready answer. “Roane State helped me change my thinking,” Longmire said, “I went from being someone who came in and did a job, to someone who was career-minded in a field that was dominated by males.”
Longmire went to Berea College right out of high school for a year before homesickness drove her home to her native Campbell County. She married and got a job at a bank. A while later, she enrolled in the first course Roane State ever offered in Campbell County. “That was the beginning for me,” Longmire recalled. “I took other classes, and the hours began to add up. With my previous year (at Berea), I realized I was getting close to an associate’s degree.” Then, she says, a class “changed my life. When I finished that accounting class, I knew what I wanted to do.”
From the 2005 Roane State Today
Chris Whaley — now dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Roane State —practically grew up at the college. His father, Lowell Whaley, was a Roane State accountant in the early 1970s. “I remember when the Dunbar Building was constructed,” Whaley said. “As a little boy, I walked through it and thought, ‘how are they ever going to use all this space?’” …
… In 1989, Whaley won the President’s Award, Roane State’s highest student citation.He went on to Middle Tennessee State University, then law school at the University ofTennessee. He practiced law full-time until 1997, when he was named Roane State’sdirector of legal studies. …
… In the end, Whaley said, he was always destined to be in education. Along with his stepfather, mother Sandy Underwood also taught school. And his wife is a teacher atHarriman High School. “I liked the practice of law, but there was always something in me drawn toward the classroom,” Whaley said.
From the 2004 Roane State Today
Growing up in Roane County, Sills and his parents, Larry and Linda Sills, lived only five miles away from Roane State Community College. Upon graduation from Harriman High School, he wasn’t sure he was ready to move away. He believes his two years spent at RSCC served him well after transferring to the much larger Vanderbilt University. “A big part of that was due to academic advisement at Roane State. The transfer process was seamless,” he said.
Beginning college in his home county was very significant to his collegiate career. “As a physician I am a bit embarrassed to say in the fall of 1983, I flunked my first biology test at Roane State,” Sills said. “That was a major shock to me. Not a favorite memory, but an important one. The professor was Dr. Mabel Gomez, and she showed me how to rescue myself. I don’t know what might have happened if I had been in a crowded class of 200 people, taught by a graduate student at some big university.”
After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt, Sills earned his medical degree from the University of Tennessee at Memphis. During his residency, faculty members from Cornell and NYU encouraged him to apply for a post-doctoral fellowship in reproductive endocrinology. He was accepted and joined the medical school faculty at Cornell.
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