Eva Milligan

Wellness & Fitness Leadership Major (age 41)

As a wife and mother of two children, ages 9 and 14, I have been interested in fitness and weight training since I was 12-years-old when my older brother taught me how to lift. I went to work straight out of high school and worked my way up in the company by whom I was employed. After I married, I quit my job to become a stay-at-home wife and mother for the last 18 years.

Since my children were older and in school, I was ready to go back to work but had no idea where to start. My husband had been suggesting that I go back to school to get a degree, but I was always worried about the expense of college. It was at this time that I looked up Chattanooga State to see what degrees they offered and found out about TN Reconnect. I had always told my husband, if I could go to school for free, I would go back in a heartbeat. I never dreamed a program like TN Reconnect would come along. It has been a blessing.

The financial part was well taken care of, but then fear set in about the workload, studying, and being a 41-year-old woman in college. Of course, it is nothing like I had imagined it would be. The workload and studying are very time consuming, but it is not as bad as I thought it would be after being out of school for so long. Being on a college campus has not been uncomfortable at all. I’ve been mistaken for a professor a few times, but the younger students I’ve worked with have been great and treat me like any other student. The professors and staff at Chattanooga State have been amazingly patient and helpful, which has made my college experience so much better.

I had been out of school for 22 years when I decided to go back. I met with an advisor and started down the path to become a Certified Personal Trainer through Chattanooga State’s Wellness and Fitness Leadership program. I’m finally getting a degree, but the best part is I’m getting a degree in an area that I absolutely love. I am beginning my sophomore year in August and I absolutely love college. At this time, I have a 4.0 average, have been inducted into two honor societies, and plan to graduate with my associate degree in the Spring of 2019.

Going back to school has been one the best decisions of my life. I have gained so much confidence in myself. When I tell people my major, some people look at me like I’m crazy, but I believe people should follow their dreams, no matter what their age. I am, and will continue to be, living proof that age is just a number because I know I can do anything I set my mind to with hard work and determination. I still have a long way to go to become the “me” I want to be, but quitting is not an option and going back to college was the first major step in my journey. I encourage everyone I know to go back to school and get a degree. There has never been a better time or a better opportunity to go back than right now. Don’t just dream, make your dreams a reality.