By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer
Roane State employee Jack Parker has been giving prospective students tours of the community college for years, but this was a first for him.
Parker recently provided a detailed overview of the Oak Ridge Branch Campus to triplets, all of whom came away with upbeat opinions of their upcoming collegiate experiences.
Following him through the corridors and into the classrooms and high-tech labs in the Coffey/McNally and Goff Buildings were triplets Jacob, Megan, and Luke Dunsmore, along with their parents, Jennifer and Todd Dunsmore.
The Dunsmores are residents of Knox County’s Fountain City area, and their children graduated in May from the First Baptist Academy in Powell. The trio attended that private school from kindergarten through their senior year.
“They’re as different as night and day,” Jennifer Dunsmore said of her children, who are fraternal triplets. The siblings bear some shared resemblances, but are far from identical in appearance.
The triplets have already settled on Roane State for college. “The main reason is because all three of them are very unclear about what they want to do with their lives,” Jennifer said.
Jacob is interested in engineering, business, and “maybe law,” his mom says. Megan is “very artistic,” she said, while Luke “may want to do something in the medical field.”
Parker led the family through classrooms, computer labs, the library, and areas filled with specialized equipment, including a cyber-defense lab where students learn skills and techniques to protect organizations from sophisticated hacking attempts.
In-person campus tours have only recently resumed as the college emerges from the COVID-19 lockdown, and demand for them is high, Parker said.
He told the triplets that there are nine Roane State campuses, “and these all belong to you.”
“It’s a welcoming environment,” Megan said after the tour, adding that she enjoyed hearing from students in the dental hygiene classroom.
Jacob said he was captivated by the areas with “incredible equipment” where students are prepared for specific careers.
Luke said he also found Roane State to be “very welcoming,” and how it offers classes “for whatever you want to do.”
The triplets’ father said he was impressed that many of the instructors were previously in careers that mirrored their instructional expertise. “It’s a great facility,” he said. “It really is.”
Jennifer Dunsmore said she’d heard about Roane State from a now-retired guidance counselor at First Baptist Academy who spoke highly of the community college, saying students receive more personal attention.
Roane State is a two-year college providing transfer programs, career-preparation programs, and continuing education. Founded in 1971, the college has locations in Roane, Campbell, Cumberland, Fentress, Knox, Loudon, Morgan, and Scott counties as well as a branch campus in Oak Ridge. For more information, visit www.roanestate.edu or call (865) 882-4554.
Remember, eligible adults can now attend Roane State tuition-free with the new Reconnect grant. Learn more at www.roanestate.edu/reconnect.
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