Deciding to attend Tennessee Tech University has proven to be one of the best decisions I ever made. I came here with a focus to obtain my degree and to be involved in my community. With the support of my family, friends, and TTU employees and donors, I did just that.
I started my freshman year as a mentee in the R.A.C.E program in the Multicultural Affairs Office, taking 18 credit hours. My tuition, fees, room and board, and meal plan were covered, thanks to scholarships and grants. To cover additional expenses, I transferred my job at Pizza Hut to the Cookeville location.
During my freshman year and the years to follow, I spent countless hours studying to learn my curriculum and my new environment. I soon realized the culture of giving that exists at TTU after working in the Office of Annual Giving. I realized that a lot of the funds for technology upgrades, building and room renovations, new buildings, and scholarships were in large part due to alumni and friends' gifts to the University. That type of support helps keep TTU as one of the most affordable universities in the South.
Being on campus from 2009 until now, as a graduate student, I have been able to see the campus changes firsthand. In particular, the College of Engineering has seen continued growth in admittance, retention, graduation, degree programs, facility upgrades, and improved outreach. I had the opportunity to witness this first as a student, and then as a leader. While being the 2011-2012 President of the Engineering Joint Council, I was able to serve my college as the undergraduate student representative for the College of Engineering's strategic planning process. Through that experience, along with my two co-ops, two internships, and time as a 2014-2015 College of Engineering Ambassador, I have been able to see my college flourish. With the support of our alumni and friends, and under the direction of our beloved Dean Rencis, our college has made marked progress towards our destination of eminence by 2020.
When it comes to my esteemed department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, we have seen room renovations and much-needed technology upgrades. It made me become more apt to study in the study room and lab. With greater access to study areas and working computers, I have seen my peers collaborate more fluidly and expand from our "friend-group" silos to include everyone trying to learn in our department. It created more of an opportunity for all to take advantage of being in the building to connect more with our professors and department, further increasing the opportunity for student success.
Furthermore, donor support has greatly impacted my experience at TTU, as I have been the recipient of the Asia Khatun Scholarship, Thomas Watson and Judith Watson Scholarship, Clay Hixson Scholarship, and Barge, Waggoner, Sumner, and Cannon Scholarship. These funds helped me to focus my efforts on my original goals of graduating and being more involved. It gave me the opportunity to work less at Pizza Hut and more on my academics. It provided me the ability to serve my community as a two-term SGA Senator, member of the 2011 Homecoming Court, and the longest active University President Ambassador to date.
In all, the experiences I've had wouldn't have been possible without the support of donors. My story continues to inspire and compel me to work diligently on my dream to become a philanthropist so I can provide the same experiences for the next group of students.