May #FindYourWhyTN Theme: Right Thing To Do

As tnAchieves students explore their Why each month, I find myself not only inspired but reflective about my post-secondary journey. TN Promise students are consistently overcoming obstacles to achieve their academic dreams! Each student and parent has a unique story that directly impacts their Why, but the unifying theme is the power and impact of education. Whether students are pursuing their passions or taking the next right step, each recognizes that education has the power to change their life. 
My post-secondary path took a few twists and turns, but looking back, I can see how my life has changed along the way. Neither of my parents finished college, but I grew up with the idea that college was the next right thing after high school. Most of my friends were pursuing post-secondary after graduating. It was just the right thing to do. 
After I graduated high school, I took a gap year to move from Illinois to Southern California. While working full time, I started my first two years of college at a private university. I also changed my major twice in those two years – from audio production to mass media business and as you may guess, I didn’t stick with mass media business for long. At the same time, I was rethinking my major, I also realized that I could no longer afford the university tuition. It was a good time for me to step back from school and re-evaluate what I wanted to do. After another gap year, I decided that I wanted to work as a hairstylist – a passion I’d always had but never really thought about doing as a career growing up. I enrolled in a part-time cosmetology program at the local community college. The days were long working full time and attending school four hours each evening, but I loved every minute of it! After two years, I earned my cosmetology certificate and passed the state board two months later. When I moved to Tennessee, I found work in a salon. I loved doing hair and meeting new clients every day, but I still had the desire to earn a bachelor’s degree. I enrolled in Johnson University’s degree-completion program as a Nonprofit Management major. Their two-year evening program allowed me to work full time and complete my degree. It was a lot of hard work and long hours working on papers and projects, but it was through this program that I found tnAchieves! After working as an intern for a year, I fell in love with the mission and work. Almost nine years later, I am still just as motivated by the mission and work and incredibly inspired by the grit, dedication and determination of our students!
Looking back, I am so thankful for my college journey. While I sometimes wish that I hadn’t taken twelve years (and many student loans!) to complete my bachelor’s degree, I don’t regret a single step that I took along the way. Two states, three colleges and four majors later, I have friends and mentors that will be part of my life forever. I have experiences that can help me relate to our students who may also need to work while taking classes or are just not quite sure which major to declare. For me, college helped me determine my passion: I ultimately want to help people. Whether it looks like choosing a hairstyle or choosing a college, the next right thing for me is to provide support, encouragement and resources to those in my life. I see that same theme throughout my college career: education has the power to forever change lives! 

Amy Bain, Senior Director of Data

Learn more about Amy

Hear from tnAchieves students, mentors and staff:

For many students, their WHY is simply because they feel like going to college is the right thing to do. Whether it is a parent who is encouraging them to make a positive next step after college or the realization that a post-secondary credential creates more career opportunities, students pursue college because they believe securing their future is the right thing to do.

According to Georgetown University, 99% of new jobs created after the 2009 recession went to workers with a post-secondary credential.* Earning a credential helps prepare you for new and existing careers. (America’s Divided Recovery: College Haves and Have-Nots - CEW Georgetown, 2021)

College Board reported that workers with at least a bachelor's degree earn an average of $22,700 more per year than workers with just a high school diploma (Ma, Pender and Welch, 2021). It is proven that post-secondary educations creates opportunities to earn more throughout your career providing future stability. 

Taking advantage of tnAchieves programming and the TN Promise scholarship set you up for a successful post-secondary journey. 

The video below highlights tnAchieves mentors, students and staff who attended college because they considered earning a post-secondary credential to be the right thing to do. #FindYourWhyTN


May's #FindYourWhyTN Webinar: Dr. Bill Fox

For many students, their WHY is simply that they feel like going to college is the right thing to do. Whether it is a parent who is encouraging them to take a positive next step after high school or the realization that a post-secondary credential creates more career opportunities, students pursue college because they believe investing in their future is the right thing to do.

This month's webinar features a presentation on the impact a post-secondary credential can have on a student’s trajectory and success. tnAchieves Executive Director Krissy DeAlejandro will be joined by Dr. Bill Fox, Director of the University of Tennessee's Boyd Center for Business & Economic Research. Dr. Fox will present data on the effectiveness of tnAchieves, its impact on earning a post-secondary credential and initial results on tnAchieves pilot, Knox Promise.

Download Dr. Fox's Slides