Keely Harris

Biology major

My children know that it is never too late to make their dreams to come true. That is what TN Reconnect has done for my family and me. It has made a dream come true. My experiences at Chattanooga State have been life-changing. Having entered the workforce before high school graduation, I knew that was the route I would be taking because of necessity. Having insurance and paying bills was my priority after graduation. I attempted a degree several times but the course loads that I chose were too ambitious while working full-time, and when family obligations and illnesses would get in the way. I pushed the idea of going back to school aside because I was doing well in my career, but the desire to obtain a college degree was always there, nagging at me.

One day, after hearing about the TN Reconnect grant on the radio and then reading about it in the paper, I went for it. Thanks to Governor Haslam’s “Drive to 55,” my dreams might just come true. The next day I drove straight to the Chattanooga State campus to figure out how to apply. The first person that I met directed me to the Student Support Center and told me to speak with the Adult Services department. They were helpful and wanted me to succeed as much as I did. I walked out there, knowing I had people already rooting for my success. The staff in the Adult Services and Student Support Center have helped me, and they continue to walk alongside me every step of the way. This time I know that I am going to achieve my goal. I am taking part-time classes, working two part-time jobs, and have started my own business during this journey. I’m a wife, mother, daughter, and luckily enough - a college student too. Life is busy, but with eLearn and the faculty at Chattanooga State, you are set up for success. The tutoring centers have great hours, and they will help you reach your goals in the classroom. If I could give future or current students one word of advice, it would be to make use of the tutors. If you put in the work, the faculty and staff at Chattanooga State are here to help you succeed every step of the way.

Adult students are often referred to as non-traditional students. That label is one I will wear with pride. It fits perfectly. My path to obtaining a degree has not been a straight path but a winding road. I have picked-up wisdom at every one of the stops along the way, but I’m back on that road now, knowing full well what the destination will be because of TN Reconnect. Onward and upward, thanks to TN Reconnect, Chattanooga State, and, most importantly, my family. This time I am making straight A’s in my classes and cannot wait for what the future holds once I graduate.