Norm and Carol Adams
Norm and Carol Adams did not graduate from Tennessee Tech. They do not have family members who graduated from Tech. They are not even originally from Tennessee! But they chose to establish the Norman and Carol Adams Engineering Scholarship Endowment because they believe in Tech, believe in the College of Engineering, and want to help students from Cumberland County.
The scholarship endowment will be primarily funded through an estate gift; however, Norm and Carol opted to also make a gift now so that they may have the opportunity to meet the scholarship recipients each year and see the impact their generosity has on the University.
"We are grateful for the investment Mr. and Mrs. Adams have made to support our engineering program at Tech," said Darrell Hoy, interim dean of the College of Engineering. "In addition to a quality education, we want to provide ample opportunities for scholarships so students can focus their time and energy on their studies, lab work, and developing the skills they will need to join the workforce. Assistance from our alumni and friends, like the Adams, is why almost 50 percent of our students are able to graduate debt-free."
Norm grew up on a farm in southwestern Ohio. Although his family was not in a position financially to provide beyond very basic necessities, Norm worked very hard to earn his associates degree at the Ohio Mechanics Institute. He then worked and co-oped full time for five years, taking between 21 and 23 credit hours and working at Sears 16 to 20 hours each week during two of those years, to receive his Mechanical Engineering Degree from the University of Cincinnati. Norm recalls coming home at 10 pm some evenings, exhausted after being in the classroom for several hours, followed by his job at Sears. But he couldn't go to sleep; he had to stay awake to study.
"That's why he wants to help these students--so they don't have to go through what he did," said Carol. "I don't know if I could have kept going, based on some of the stories he's told me."
Norm then enlisted in the United States Air Force where he met Carol. Carol is originally from St. Louis, Missouri, and studied education and taught middle school English. The couple retired to the Fairfield Glade community in Crossville, Tennessee, 24 years ago.
"We've been here for 24 years and consider ourselves Tennesseans," said Norm. "We've heard really good things about Tennessee Tech, and we want to help the people living in Cumberland County."
When asked what advice they would give the students of today, Norm and Carol said, "Pick something that really, really interests you. You'll be happy if you love what you do."
Carol added, "I'm going to tell you something Pat Summitt said: Sit in front of the class." The legendary University of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball coach was famous for requiring her players to sit in the front three rows of lectures. "Class," said Summitt, "is more important than a game."
Carol said she had mentors every step of her teaching career, and she became confident because they guided her way.
Norm, on the other hand, said his mother had only an 8th grade education and his father only made it through his freshman year of high school.
"I decided my freshman year of high school that I wanted to go to college because no one in my family had," he said. "So I really had no mentor, but I had the determination on my own."
The Norman and Carol Adams Engineering Scholarship will be awarded to engineering majors who graduate from Cumberland County High School and Stone Memorial High School.
"The Adams are thoughtfully and selflessly supporting Tennessee Tech students through this scholarship," said Amanda Fabrizio-Grzesik, Director of Development. "Thanks to them, engineering students will be able to focus on their classes, labs, and projects without worrying, 'How am I going to pay for this semester?' We are so lucky and excited to welcome Mr. and Mrs. Adams to the Tech family."
Executive Director of Planned Giving Tiff Rector added, "Tennessee Tech is extremely fortunate to have friends like Mr. and Mrs. Adams. Although they didn't attend college here, they understand the important role that the University plays in their community. The generosity they have shown by combining an estate gift with an outright gift will ensure generations of our students achieve their educational dreams."