Changing Lives, Transforming Communities
The tnAchieves Blog

Using Your Passion To Guide Your College Journey
Feat. Angel Hayes and Matt Hudson

May 13, 2020

Amongst the slew of news articles, updates and reports that we encounter daily, good news is more important than ever. At tnAchieves, there is no shortage of good news thanks to our incredible TN Promise Students. Angel Hayes, a Cumberland County High School senior and incoming college student, embodies the endless determination and positivity that TN Promise students exude. Angel recently reached out to several tnAchieves senior staff members to introduce herself and ask for advice on how to achieve her dreams. Angel told us, “I am determined to work hard, like I have been raised to do, in order to achieve this goal, and it is my dream to make it a reality. The goal I am truly set on is to pursue and obtain the profession of a Game Warden.” Her email was thorough and nothing short of inspirational. Our entire staff found ourselves in awe of Angel’s determination and grit. It was infectious! Angel quickly made it known that her happy place has always been the outdoors. She knew her calling was to not only spend as much time outside as possible, but also to serve others and the outdoor spaces we share. Some of her fondest childhood memories include learning to hunt with her Uncle Danny and playing in the woods near her home. Her infectious love and passion for nature made her career choice clear – she knows she wants to be a Game Warden and she will do anything necessary to achieve this goal.

The tnAchieves community stretches far and wide, making it easy for our Deputy Director of Partnerships, Graham Thomas, to connect Angel with Matt Hudson. Matt is the Chief Law Enforcement Ranger at Obed Wild and Scenic River. Although Matt is not Angel’s assigned tnAchieves mentor, he shared with Graham his desire to generate interest in his career field among students, and Graham knew they would be a great match. Graham asked and Matt was eager to connect with Angel. He shared his background and career path, as well as some helpful advice on finding what you love and making a living out of it. Although it was never his intention of studying to become a Park Ranger, his life inevitably led him there. Matt’s advice: follow your heart. He shared, “I found myself hiking down a trail at Pickett State Park on my first day on the job and not being able to believe I was getting paid to do so. I've never had a moment's regret.” Even through a simple email exchange, Angel and Matt were able to connect over their shared passion and love for the outdoors. Not only will Matt be there for Angel during her time as a student, but he also connected her with a colleague who works with the TWRA. Angel’s excitement for learning about their careers was tangible through the email chain. Angel told Matt, “That means a lot that you are helping me through the resources you have to help my future become successful.”  

In challenging times, encouragement and connection prove to be more essential than ever. Not only is Angel hopeful that she will live out her dream, she is determined to make it a reality and make the world a better place as a result. With help and guidance from mentors like Matt, TN Promise students like Angel can chase their dreams and better our community along the way. As Angel said, “When I become a Game Warden, I will be part of the future generation that enforces laws to protect and make the world a better and safer place.” We are so excited to see the amazing things Angel, and all of the incredible TN Promise students, will accomplish.