By Bob Fowler, Roane State staff writer
For Roane State’s Shelley Edwards, the Tennessee Promise scholarship and mentoring program came along at just the right time.
Edwards was among the first group of students to take advantage of Tennessee Promise, a last-dollar scholarship that allows students to go to community colleges tuition-free.
“With the HOPE Scholarship and Tennessee Promise, I haven’t had to pay anything for my education,” said Edwards, 19, the daughter of Michael and Linda Edwards of Rockwood.
She’s maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average at Roane State.
She received an associate of science degree in chemistry in May, setting the stage for her transfer next fall to Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville. She plans to major in chemical engineering with a concentration in bio-molecular engineering.
Tennessee Promise, along with the HOPE Scholarship, enabled her to save for upcoming college expenses at Tennessee Tech.
Tennessee Promise went into effect two years ago and was immediately popular. Edwards estimates about three-fourths of the 85 graduates of Rockwood High School’s graduating class of 2015 took advantage of it.
Tennessee Promise recipients have to maintain a good grade point average and perform eight hours of community service every semester.
“Sometimes it’s easy to forget how important it is to give back to your community, and I love how the program encourages students to do community service,” Edwards said.
To fulfill that requirement, she said she helped cook and serve meals at Harriman’s annual Polk Salad Festival, where proceeds benefit local veterans programs. She also helped at Roane State’s community garden on the Harriman campus, where half of the harvested bounty is donated to local charities.
Mentoring is also a crucial component of Tennessee Promise and provides help navigating the college admissions process.
“She (the mentor) came to our mandatory Tennessee Promise meetings, checked with us to make sure we were doing the things that needed to be done, and was available if we had any questions or concerns throughout the process,” Edwards said.
“I’ve had really great teachers,” she said of her Roane State experience. “They became more than teachers. They became mentors and advisors.”
“I feel like I’ve grown so much in education and leadership skills,” she said. “I’ve made a lot of connections at Roane State.”
Roane State is a two-year college providing transfer programs, career-preparation programs and continuing education. Founded in 1971, the college has campuses in Crossville, Harriman, Huntsville, Jamestown, Knoxville, LaFollette, Lenoir City, Oak Ridge, and Wartburg.
For more information, visit roanestate.edu or call 1-866-GO2-RSCC (1-866-462-7722).
This press release was submitted by Owen Driskill.