TTU's Project Linking Lives culminates with Transitions Conference on April 20 for nontraditional students

Going to college is a big transition — especially for non-traditional women who’re often juggling the added responsibilities of work and family.

That’s why Tennessee Tech University is hosting the Transitions Conference on Friday, April 20, for women who are considering or are returning to college.

“The Transitions Conference will be a gathering for women who want to know more about higher education,” said Lachelle Norris, associate professor of sociology at Tennessee Tech University and an organizer of the event.

“Women who are pondering what to do with their future don’t always consider higher education as a real possibility, but we know that education is the key to economic self-sufficiency for women,” she said.

Perhaps best of all, Norris added, the conference — which is free and open to the public — has been planned by nontraditional students age 25 and older who’ve struggled through some of the same questions and situations that other potential nontraditional students are going through right now.

“What will college be like for me? What if I need some support to enroll and attend? Can I do it when no one in my family has ever been to college? Will I find students like me there? These are just some of the questions that will be addressed at the day-long event,” Norris said.

It begins at 8 a.m. in the Multipurpose Room of TTU’s Roaden University Center, with a welcome and introduction from President Bob Bell and Cookeville Mayor Sam Sallee.

The opening speaker will be Jennifer Rawls, executive director of the Tennessee Economic Council on Women.

At 9 a.m., she will give a presentation titled “It’s Never Too Late: Why Women Need to Further Their Education.”

Rawls is a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law and has practiced law for 15 years. For 10 years, she worked in the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office, representing the state and its citizens in the areas of consumer protection and bankruptcy.

The morning portion of the conference will offer four different topics of choice presented in two different breakout sessions. Topics will include “The Nitty-Gritty of College: What to Expect and How to Deal With It,” “Resources for the College Student Mom,” “Bouncing Back: Overcoming Barriers to Success,” and “First Generation Students: Empowering Ourselves.”

Wendy Pitts-Reeves, a consultant and psychotherapist who specializes in issues impacting Tennessee women and teens, will give the conference’s keynote address during lunch.

She represents the East Tennessee Development District on the Tennessee Economic Council on Women and has also served on that organization’s executive committee. She was recently elected to the Blount County Commission and has initiated several coalitions in Blount County to raise awareness and improve opportunities for women and girls.

The conference culminates with an afternoon breakout session, offering two topics of choice — “Life After Domestic Abuse: Survivors Going Back to School,” or “Developing Mentors and Role Models for Nontraditional Students: Becoming the Leader You are Looking For.”

The Transitions Conference, which culminates the Project Linking Lives program at TTU, has been made possible by a grant from the American Association of University Women Leadership and Training Institute in Washington, D.C.

Additional support and assistance has been provided by the TTU Women’s Center and Nontraditional Student Organization of TTU.

For more information about the conference or to register to attend, call or e-mail Norris at 931/372-6220 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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