Development News

Rollins Transfer Scholarship encourages community college graduates to continue education at Tennessee Tech

Linda and John RollinsLinda Rollins (`63 secondary education) enjoyed a successful career in teaching and advising at Tennessee Tech University and Motlow State Community College and credits her Tech education for making it possible. She is now focused on giving back and has established a scholarship for students who wish to transfer from Motlow State to Tennessee Tech.

“Tech gave me – a first-generation college student – a real chance,” Linda said. “My mother and father had always told me, from the time I was very small, that I would go to college. My father was a railway switchman, and my mother was a waitress. You don’t make big salaries doing those jobs, and they wanted better for me.”

Linda met her husband John at Tech in the spring of 1962. John graduated in 1965 with a degree in history and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He later graduated with a law degree from the University of Tennessee in 1972 and became assistant district attorney in Knox County, Tenn. During the course of his career, he had a private practice, served as county attorney for Coffee County, city judge for Manchester, Tenn., and was elected circuit judge for the 14th judicial district of Tennessee. He served for 19 years until his death in 2009.

Linda earned her bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Tech in 1963 and received a master’s degree in English from Vanderbilt in 1964. She taught in Tech’s English department, at the Army Education Center at Fort McClellan, Ala., and at Putnam County Senior High School and chaired the English department at Karns High School in Knoxville. In 1974, she started teaching at Motlow State Community College and later became chair of Motlow’s English department. When Linda retired in 2003, she was interim dean of math, science and education. She was instrumental in developing the dual and joint enrollment programs and worked with Tech to develop Motlow’s 2+2 program.

In addition to teaching, Linda also served as an advisor and college counselor and says she encouraged all of her advisees to transfer to Tech because it offers many of the same benefits as a community college.  

“A lot of students go to a community college because it’s smaller and the instructors know them,” Linda said. “At a community college, you have a wide variety of students. You have 18-year-olds, but you also have a 32-year-old single mother with two children. My heart went out to all them. Community colleges can give students the beginning of a really great college experience. A school like Tennessee Tech, which is not overly large, can do that as well. Tech has always been a very friendly, open campus.”

Linda says during her time at Motlow, she realized that there aren’t many scholarships for transfer students. This is why she decided to endow a scholarship at Tech – to leave a legacy, give back to the two institutions to which she devoted her career and help students in need.  The John Wiley Rollins and Linda Coppinger Rollins Motlow Transfer Scholarship will be awarded to students who earned an associate’s degree or have equivalent transfer hours or junior standing from Motlow and plan to continue their college education at Tech.

“My husband and I have always contributed to Tech as much as we could, given our circumstances,” Linda said. “We wish the best for all of the students who receive this scholarship.”

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