“Since earning my MFA, I have returned to Middle Tennessee where I teach foundation courses in drawing and design at Austin Peay State University. As a developing artist, I find it important to find time outside of the university setting. I have worked with established sculptors, Olen Bryant on woodcarving, and Gregg Schlanger on numerous installations. I have produced murals in the last year of 2013 for local establishments. Over the past two years of 2012-2013,
I have worked as a visual coordinator for a local music venue and local music festivals. I also continue to develop my own interest in Art through a practice in sculpture and painting. I am currently developing my studio practice and look forward to finding gallery representation both locally and beyond. All of these endeavors contribute to my understanding of Art and the world we live in”
Wendy and Brandon Buckner started The Hot Chocolatier in 2008. As a locally-owned Chattanooga, TN based company, the couple wanted to bring their experiences – from the various cities in which they had lived – back to the their hometown. The concept of The Hot Chocolatier became a reality when Wendy and Brandon began introducing artisan chocolates, confections, one-of-a-kind sculptures, showpieces, customized favors, and corporate/wedding gifts upon opening the doors of their first location within the Business Development Center along the North Shore area of downtown Chattanooga.
After visiting a number of shops/production facilities in Paris, France and Belgium as part of a travel study through a MakeWork grant in 2011, Wendy and Brandon felt that Chattanooga needed a retail artisan chocolate/gourmet dessert boutique-style shop to call their own. In August, 2011, the couple moved The Hot Chocolatier to Chattanooga’s Southside and expanded the menu to include in-house gourmet pastries and desserts. The Hot Chocolatier celebrated its fifth year anniversary in October 2013.
About the owners:
Wendy Buckner – owner & head chocolatier – received an Associate’s degree in Studio Art from Chattanooga State in 2001 and went on to graduate from The French Pastry School in Chicago, IL in 2005. Wendy has worked in several prominent patisseries and chocolate kitchens before developing The Hot Chocolatier. She also brings her training as a visual artist to her culinary experience.
Brandon Buckner – co-owner, designer & assistant chocolatier – received an Associates/Transfer Degree in Studio Art from Chattanooga State in 1995, transferred to UTC for a BFA in Painting in 1998, and went on to receive a MFA in Painting from the University of Iowa, Iowa City in 2005. His training in design and studio art makes him an asset in custom chocolate creations. Brandon created The Hot Chocolatier logo and package designs for products and also works at Diversified Companies as a Graphics Specialist.
I graduated from the Professional Actor Training Program and began working as a professional entertainer initially part time and now full time. The program is so unique and intensive, that the only way I can describe it is as a massive springboard that will catapult you towards a career in the entertainment industry. I came to the program with raw desire, eager to learn, and I left with a wealth of knowledge that I continue to draw from as a professional. I was a kid with a dream, and now I have Off Broadway shows, commercials for Nickelodeon, Sony, and Capitol One, and some television projects in the works under my belt all because of the great start that I got with PATP. I can’t recommend the program enough to someone who is serious about a career in show business. If you are ready to work hard, stop dreaming and start doing, then the Professional Actor Training Program is for you.
Last year, I had the life changing experience of completing my first year of the Professional Actor Training Program at Chattanooga State. Previously, I had graduated Cum Laude from Belmont University with a Bachelor of Music degree in Musical Theatre. I also enjoyed wonderful experiences working as a vocalist on a cruise ship, acting for several seasons in a professional theatre, and performing for arenas of children on a tour of Sesame Street Live. I had a good amount of knowledge and experience under my belt, but I lacked confidence and certain skills that were simply not a focus in Belmont’s training program. I clearly remember my first week of classes last Fall. After each class, I would think to myself, “This is what I have been craving to learn!” Throughout the year, I continued to be thrilled by the new performance techniques I was able to learn and practice in my classes. I was also amazed by the clarity with which my teachers presented these often abstract ideas, and the safe environment they provided for us to practice them.
Upon entering the Professional Actor Training Program, I already held a bachelor’s degree in music, had had many college theatre roles, had taken acting classes since childhood, and had a great agent in Nashville; however, the training I received at Chattanooga State is unlike anything else I have ever known. The two-year program is designed to create an autonomous actor. Why does this matter? Doesn’t every educational program encourage autonomy? In a word: no. The PATP training is highly specialized, sensitive, and magnanimous. Through rigorous work in scene study and improvisation, a culture of free self-expression, self-exploration, and emotional generosity weaves a small group of people together forever, beyond the span of two short years. Did I become a better actor? Undoubtedly. I filled my toolbox with the essential practical skills that make me feel easily prepared for any performing situation. The best reward, however, is that my perception as an artist and human being was truly cultivated in that time. The training is absolutely professional and intimately personal. What makes it special cannot be conveyed literally. It can only be felt first-hand.
“Ed Southeard and all of the professors of the Entrepreneurship Management program provided me with the knowledge base and experience to better myself as a professional which has lead to increases in my confidence and performance. As a member of the working world while I was in school, I was able to apply what I learned about the interview process, resume design, personal selling, organizational behavior, etc.. I recently interviewed for a management position with my current employer and was chosen for the promotion! It has been an awesome experience being able to learn and relate program materials to real life and Chattanooga State and Ed Southeard have absolutely done that and I full respect and appreciate what the program delivered.”
Kimberly Munsey-Carlton has nothing but high praise for her Chattanooga State instructors. She says, “Paul Ray ‘is’ the paralegal program. His passion for our success is overwhelming. If you can’t learn what working for a lawyer is like from Paul Ray, you shouldn’t work in a law office. He is my hero.” Another hero Kimberly acknowledges is Dr. John Squires of the mathematics department. “I have promised that a statue will be built in his honor. He’s the only reason I made it through college-level math.” Kimberly plans to transfer to UTC where she will either major in Paralegal Studies or Criminal Justice with minor in Journalism. Both of my daughters, Rachelle and Teale attended and worked at Chattanooga State. She also has a son, Preston. WAWL deejay “Uncle” Don Hixson is her son-in-law.
Christy Hixson Frederick is an active member and current president of the Chattanooga State chapter of the Student Tennessee Education Association (STEA). Christy organized a variety of community service projects for the STEA including collecting books for a Grundy County elementary school without a library; leading a campaign to collect food for the Chattanooga Area Food Bank; and developing a project with Tyner Middle Academy to access students’ reading levels after TCAP.
“Chattanooga State has allowed me to succeed beyond my expectations.”
She will attend the National Education Association (NEA) convention as the only community college delegate from Tennessee. In addition, Christy will represent Chattanooga State for the third time as a delegate to the Tennessee Education Association (TEA) statewide conference this spring. After graduating from high school in 200l, Christy went to art school for a year. She worked various jobs until 2011 when she began her studies at Chattanooga State. In addition to taking classes, she works as the director of the DuPont Elementary School’s Before and After School Childcare Program. Even with all of these activities, she graduated with a 3.759 GPA and plans to continue her studies at UTC. Still a newlywed, Christy has been married to her husband John Hixson since March 2012.
Chattanooga State’s Mary Kamuiru was named the Outstanding Student of the Year from among Tennessee Technology Center students across the state. Initially nominated as one of 14 students at Chattanooga State’s TTC , Mary was chosen to represent Chattanooga State at the regional completion in Knoxville in December, 2012.
Tabby Phillips owned a gymnastics and cheerleading facility before returning to Chattanooga State to become a nurse. Through lots of prayer and research, she decided to change careers because she wanted something more stable. She hopes to continue her education by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing online from East Tennessee State University. “I was blessed by this wonderful nursing program and awesome teachers. I especially want to mention Betty Zmaj, my biggest cheerleader, and Kathy Rose, who forced me to better myself in all areas.” Thanks to these influential instructors, Tabby’s goal is to some day become an instructor herself. In addition, Tabby had the support of her three teenage daughters, her husband, and her Chihuahua, Baxter, who was her study buddy.