Patrick ‘PJ’ Barnes
When transferring to Tennessee Tech University from Roane State Community College, Patrick ‘PJ’ Barnes, Crossville native, found a welcoming environment and more opportunities than he ever anticipated.
Barnes started Roane State at 16, participating in Middle College, a program that allows students to earn an Associate of Science with a concentration in general studies while in high school.
After receiving his associate degree, he wasn’t sure what exactly to do, but he was sure about one thing: continuing to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
“I'm a first-generation college student. I want to be the first to get an associate degree, bachelor's degree and maybe even a master's degree. If I decide I’m going to do that,” he said.
Once he arrived at Tech, he was still undecided on a major but knew he might want to start his own business one day. As soon as he walked into Johnson Hall, home to the College of Business, he immediately felt welcomed and switched to studying business information systems.
“Roane State was very beneficial for me; it gave me the fundamentals of how to succeed in college. But as soon as I stepped onto Tech, every single staff member and faculty member, especially in the College of Business, was very welcoming. I felt cared for off the bat, especially by advisor Sherrie Cannon. She helped me in the entire transfer process, definitely making it something worth doing, and it was easier because of the faculty and staff.”
The opportunities he was given at Roane State was worth it, he said. It prepared him for what it is like at a bigger college, provided a general overview and allowed him to save money with the Tennessee Promise. He was ready for the next opportunity, though, something that allowed him to focus on an area that would help prepare him for the workforce.
“With a bachelor’s degree, it’s very niche based, especially in the College of Business. They offer programs and training to programs I wasn’t aware of, like handshake and LinkedIn,” he said. “I feel like they are really preparing me for the workforce; I mean, they helped me receive an internship here my first semester as a transfer. It’s just a totally different culture. It’s like a next level up.”
Barnes is working with the Small Business Development Center, which allows him to work on a team of three other interns to help small businesses spanning over 14 counties get started. They learn skills in marketing, finance, face-to-face communication and management administration.
“The internship has allowed me to gain so many tools outside of my business intelligence and analytics degree,” he said. “It is my dream internship because although I will have a degree in one specific thing, I will have work experience in these different areas.”