Tennessee Reconnect Spotlight: Donald Swoopes, Jr.

September 23, 2022 | Betty A. Proctor | Internal Press Release, Student Success

headshot of man inside a circle

Adults students who return to college may discover that a better opportunity may have been available sooner if they only had a degree. Luckily, the Tennessee Reconnect program at Chattanooga State Community College can provide that opportunity and offer students a way to earn that degree to excel in their career or provide the path to a new one.

Almost two decades ago, Donald Swoopes started college after finishing high school, but stayed a semester then took a job without looking back. “I only saw the immediate benefit in front of me and not the long term,” said Donald. Roughly 10 years later, Donald realized he wanted a change and transitioned to a different position, but also quickly realized how a degree would help to propel his career and bring him additional opportunities.

Like other adults who are now married with children, Donald had a family to consider when weighing his educational options after first learning about Tennessee Reconnect. His wife was working on a degree and they decided together that she should finish her degree first. “This way everyone in the household wouldn’t be working on schoolwork and one parent could help the kids with homework,” noted Donald. Shortly after their decision, the pandemic hit and the Swoopes’ found themselves with the children at home, trying to manage a new routine. Once things settled down, Donald enrolled at ChattState using the Tennessee Reconnect Grant.

Mr. Swoopes says that Chattanooga State was a smart choice and has been nothing but impressed by faculty and staff members who really care to make sure that things go smoothly for him. Having experienced the amazing care of many individuals on campus, Donald was recruited to serve as an ChattState ambassador.

Donald’s role as a full-time worker, husband, father, and college student has inspired his family and others who interact with him on campus. “Now, I can look back and say that investing in myself was one of the best decisions I’ve made,” expressed Donald. “I have been able to maintain a 3.6 GPA, serve as an ambassador, was inducted into the National Spire Honor Society and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and recently became president of the C.AD.R.E. Adult Student Club.”

Tennessee Reconnect allows students like Donald to work full-time while attending college on a part-time basis. “Donald is an outstanding student who plans to graduate in May 2023 with an Associate of Science degree in Finance then transfer to UTC to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration,” said Marsha Barker, Adult Services director. “Donald is intelligent, positive, and hardworking with exceptional leadership skills and a strong will to succeed.”

Tennessee Reconnect is free education for adults 23 and older. To find out more information or to see if you qualify, call (423) 697-4753 or email marsha.barker@chattanoogastate.edu.

Attend a virtual information session on September 26 or 29 at 5:30 pm or September 24 at 9 am. Sign up today here.