Ashley Mello

Exercise Science Major, age 34

I’ve always had the personal drive to coach people in health and fitness. I’ve competed in triathlons, fitness events, and I am a NASM certified trainer. I’ve used that experience to train others for a few years but wanted the educational background to complement that experience.  This is one of the reasons why I decided to go back to school using the Tennessee Reconnect program at Chattanooga State.

I had been homeschooled my whole life and although I consider myself educated to some degree, I always wanted to do something more. I entered the workforce and became mired in the life that, although fulfilling, was still lacking in the potential that I saw in myself.  I considered going back to school, but the cost was prohibitive, and I thought it was beyond what I was capable of academically. At the same time, the longer I waited to get back into the classroom, the less confident I became that I would be able to learn at the level that I had been during my younger years. The idea of going to college was completely off my radar until the Tennessee Reconnect program was approved in 2018. 

I thought it would be difficult to be accepted to the program, but it wasn’t. I thought I would feel like an outcast in a school full of students right out of high school, but I didn’t. I thought it would be impossible to juggle my job and my family, along with school and homework, but the support system that is available to me both at the college and at home has made it possible. I plan on graduating in December of 2020 with a degree in exercise science.

With the knowledge I have gained at this campus, tempered with the experience I have had, I will be able to serve in a much higher capacity than before. I believe my life’s purpose is to acquire as many skills as possible in the field of fitness and use those skills to serve others. Tennessee Reconnect and Chattanooga State helped enhance those abilities. If you’re wondering if you should go back to school, I encourage you to go for it!  It is so worth it!