It took a community to raise me, and a community college willing to think outside the box to change my destiny. I was the first person in my immediate family to graduate high school, and the first to attend college.
While a student at a church-based school in 1987, I told my parents I wanted to transfer to Warren County High School to prepare for college. I enrolled myself in high school and learned to navigate public school on my own. Thankfully, I had terrific counselors at WCHS in Ms. Sue Smartt and Dollye Cardwell. Both were patient and willing to teach me how to succeed, and I graduated with honors.
I had no idea how to navigate myself into college, and my parents, both blue-collar workers, were not able to offer any financial help. Ms. Caldwell, who was an adjunct faculty member at Motlow’s new McMinnville campus, told me to see Director Ivan Jones. Mr. Jones was a vital component in my education journey.
My college path began in fall 1989 at the McMinnville campus, which was so new there was only one main hallway, and the sidewalks and landscaping were incomplete. I took advantage of grant opportunities and attended full time.
The McMinnville campus and staff were always helpful and willing to go above and beyond my expectations. Two years later, thanks to the guidance and counsel of the Motlow family in McMinnville, I graduated with an associate degree.
Without the hands-on involvement and mentoring so generously offered to me during my time at Motlow, I most certainly would not have moved on to complete my degree. Because of the servant leadership shown to me in those earliest years of my college career, I earned two additional graduate degrees to serve better and support educators in the field of instructional technology and media services. I work with preservice teachers in my role and encourage them as they complete their undergraduate journeys. I encounter many who, like me, are the first in their family to attend college. My work provides me a beautiful way to pay forward the kindness and mentoring offered to me.
Much of what I learned in my freshman and sophomore years at Motlow was met with eager excitement, but there were moments of struggle as well. My class in microcomputers, for instance, was a severe trial. I had to complete three remedial classes and received support and coaching to ensure that I would succeed.
Today, I am a veteran educator with over 25 years of experience. I currently serve a public-school district in Northwest Georgia, Whitfield County Schools in Dalton, where I am privileged to coach other educators in the best practices regarding digital learning. Though over 30 years have passed, I find myself still drawing on the knowledge gained, and the habits established during those first few semesters of my journey into higher education at Motlow. I am so grateful.