By Bob Fowler, Roane State staff writer
A group of bright high achievers from Anderson County will be wearing commencement’s traditional caps and gowns twice this spring.
Members of the first graduating class of Middle College students from Anderson County will receive associate degrees from Roane State Community College on May 6.
Then, they’ll be graduating from their respective high schools later that month.
Middle College is a two-year Roane State program where area high school sophomores with qualifying grades and test scores are invited as juniors to attend college in the mornings and return to their high schools in the afternoon.
Middle College gives participants a huge leg up in terms of college credits, and they’ll start the rest of their collegiate careers with two years of higher education classes under their belts.
There are 32 students in Anderson County’s inaugural Middle College class.
“It’s really an impressive class,” said David Lane, Roane State’s director of Middle College.
It’s also the largest class since Roane State launched the innovative program in 2014, when it started with high school students in Roane County.
“I’m blessed to be working around some incredibly talented and motivated students,” Lane said. “Our Middle College students are also blessed to be working with our dedicated faculty at Roane State.”
“The partnership and vision we share with the Anderson County schools can change lives for generations to follow,” he said. “It’s great to know that we are all part of something that has such a life-changing and long-lasting impact.”
Three soon-to-be alumni—Anderson County High seniors Miranda Vanover, Braelee Givens and Emily Pooler—in recent interviews were highly enthusiastic about their Roane State experiences.
“I wanted to leave high school—I’m not lying,” said Miranda, 18, the daughter of John and Tammy Vanover. “I was getting senioritis in my sophomore year.”
As for attending Roane State classes, “This is exactly what I needed, and I love it to death,” Miranda said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity.”
She plans to transfer to Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville next fall and pursue a degree in either engineering or mathematics. Miranda loves math, she said, and is taking upper-level calculus at Roane State.
Her math professor, Jimmy Miller, “is great,” she said. “Calculus III isn’t that hard once it’s explained properly.”
Miranda also praised Roane State’s cosmopolitan campus in Oak Ridge. “My first week here, I met someone from Egypt. My second semester, I met someone from Africa. The people I’ve met have shaped me in a way I never imagined.”
Emily, 18, and the daughter of Chris and Tina Pooler, said Middle College “helped me grow as a person. I’m now more mature, and I have a better work ethic.”
Emily has been accepted at the University of Tennessee and intends to major in music education, with an interest in teaching at the elementary school level.
Braelee, 17, is the daughter of Ray and Tammy Givens. She wants to become a doctor—either a physician or a medical researcher.
“Once you get to a certain point in high school, you kind of hit a wall,” she said. At Roane State, Braelee said educators have more freedom to delve into subjects.
She excitedly recounts some of her experiences in the college’s anatomy class—using an air mattress pump to blow up the lung of a pig’s cadaver, dissecting a sheep’s heart.
A self-described “drama nerd,” Braelee heaped praise on associate professor Michael Golebiewski and his “wealth of knowledge.”
When asked their toughest college class, the three students chimed in—almost in unison—“chemistry!”
For more information about Roane State’s Middle College program, visit roanestate.edu/middlecollege or contact Lane at [email protected], or (865) 882-4538.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
This story and photo were submitted by Owen Driskill.
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