August #FindYourWhyTN Theme: Achieve Your Goals

August is the final month for our #FindYourWhyTN campaign. As I reflect on the campaign as it relates to my collegiate experience, I am inspired by the stories about why individuals are choosing or have chosen to attend college and the motivations to complete their degree or certificate. I firmly believe that the power of education can change a student’s trajectory and have a positive impact on an individual’s future, and I am grateful for the opportunity that I had to further my education and earn my bachelor’s degree. It is an achievement that I will forever be proud of.

I am a first-generation college graduate. Attending college was a dream I had from a young age, but not a topic discussed often in my household. I grew up with a very supportive mom and grandmother, who we called Granny. None of us knew the college enrollment process, but we knew we had to begin somewhere and were determined to figure it out together. My Granny would cut out newspaper articles that promoted college enrollment and leave them for me to read. I will never forget the way our kitchen table looked when my mother and I filed my very first FAFSA, which we had to complete on paper. It was a long, confusing process, but we were in it together. I also relied on my school counselor at Roane County High School, Mr. Plemons, who helped push me through the doors that were opening for me.

I applied to Roane State Community College and began fall 2007. I was always told to sit as close to the professor as possible, so on my first day, I sat in the front row of my history class. I listened. I took copious notes. I got to know my professors and utilized office hours. I was determined to do well and achieve my dream of being a college graduate. During my last semester at Roane State, my Granny passed away. I am grateful that she was able to see me enroll in college but I knew that I had to finish what I started, not only for myself, but for her as well. After finishing two years at Roane State, I transferred to East Tennessee State University, where I found my passion for communication. I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Communication in May 2012 and walked across the stage with my family cheering in the crowd. That day will forever be one of my proudest memories. I will forever have my college degree.

My dream of attending college was made possible by the support I had of my family. My dream of being a college graduate was made possible by the mentors I had throughout my collegiate years- individuals who believed in me and encouraged me to believe in myself. With the fall 2021 term beginning this month for many TN Promise students, I encourage students to utilize resources, especially mentors and professors. I encourage students to build a supportive community by being involved on campus through student organizations and activities. As we close out #FindYourWhyTN with a focus on personal achievement, I hope that students know that they are capable of achieving what they set out to accomplish. Students, stay focused on your goals and be proud of your achievements. tnAchieves is so proud you and we wish you the best of luck as you begin this semester!

Amanda Schneider
tnAchieves Senior Director of Communication

View the August #FindYourWhyTN Panel

Begin with the end in mind! Many students start college with the goal of graduating and gaining access to a future career. This month we will highlight students who are in pursuit of a specific goal in college and mentors who achieved their career goals because of their college experience!