Emily Buckner

Emily Buckner, ’20 human resources, knew she wanted to come to Tennessee Tech since her freshman year of high school. Living and growing up just a county away in Gainesboro, Tennessee, Buckner knew Tech’s reputation and she knew she enjoyed school. So, why not go to Tech?

Emily Buckner

As a first-generation college student, there were plenty of other questions to answer too, like how she would pay for school, what she would study and how to navigate the entire experience. Knowing that she qualified for the Tennessee Promise program, which provides funding for two-year degree program students, Buckner made the choice to begin her college journey at Vol State Community College’s Cookeville Campus.

“I was a first-generation college student, I knew I had Tennessee Promise, and Vol State’s Cookeville campus was close,” Buckner said. “So, I gave it a try.”

Buckner set a plan to get her basic business courses done at Vol State, earn a two-year degree there and transfer to Tech’s College of Business for earn her bachelor’s degree.

“When I started my first semester, I was not the student I am today. I wasn’t confident in anything I was doing,” Buckner said. “My family was supportive, but they hadn’t been to college before either. My professors really helped me blossom.”

At Vol State, Buckner served on the Student Government Association, studied abroad in Ireland, helped start a clothing closet of professional attire for students and earned the Tuttle Award for service.

When she transferred to Tech, Buckner had to opportunity to pick a field within business to focus on.

“I was really drawn to the human and development side of business,” she said. “Working in human resources, I can really make a difference for people’s professional lives. You can have an impact and see how what you’re doing makes a difference.”

She is figuring out the finances of the college experience as well.

“Because of Tennessee Promise, I came to Tech debt-free and now in my second semester at Tech, I am still debt-free,” she said. “I love it at Tech. I loved Vol State too, but I feel like this is where I belong, like I was meant to end up here.”