by Dr. Tina Cannon, alum and mathematics professor
I am grateful to Chattanooga State because it has been a part of my life for over 30 years, as a student and an employee. In 1983, I became a student at Chattanooga State. At the time, I had no clue what career path that I wanted to pursue. I came to the campus and spoke to an advisor, and he helped me by asking probing questions to determine the areas where I had interest. He told me that there was a great demand for math teachers. I had never even considered teaching because I was somewhat shy and did not like speaking in front of people. Another area that I enjoyed was working with computers. He told me that programming was also an area that was in demand. By the time I was through with my advising session, I declared a major of Math with Computer Science. I was a first time college student in my family, so I had to depend on the expertise of the Chattanooga State faculty and advisors to help me along my educational path.
I received a work scholarship and started working in the library with Vicky Leather, Tisa Houck and Pam Temple. These three ladies played a crucial role in my life as a college student. They always encouraged me and helped to build up my confidence.
One of my favorite courses was Psychology of Personal Adjustment with Larry Lewis. He helped his students by challenging them to try new things. He wanted us to have self-assurance and not be afraid to venture out. He asked us to go out and eat by ourselves and go to the movies. I thought that is a strange assignment, but why not. I did not have a problem with this, but I soon learned that it was a big deal for others to be alone. From this assignment I learned: enjoy your own company; you do not have to depend on others to make you happy. This was another step in building up my self-confidence.
Chattanooga State played a key role in my future. I finished all of my math courses and computer courses that I could take at ChattState. I still had a few classes to finish my associate’s degree, but I decided to transfer to UTC.
When I transferred to UTC it was a huge change for me. I was used to all the help that I had received at Chattanooga State. I soon learned that at the university, they wanted more of an independent learner. All of the things that I had learned at ChattState helped me to continue and never give up on my dreams — even when things got hard. I graduated from UTC in 1989 with a degree in Secondary Education: Mathematics.
I started trying to find a job in Chattanooga, and I soon found out that the job search was harder than I expected. In January 1990, my husband was talking to a friend of his that worked at Chattanooga State. He told him I should go talk to Dr. Herb Hooper who was over the Developmental Studies Department at Chattanooga State. Dr. Hooper hired me to teach one developmental mathematics class starting that semester. Later I was introduced to Dr. Layne who was over the GED area, and I started teaching a GED class. I was scared to death the first time I had to stand before a class, but from that point on I realized, this is what I have been called to do.
In January 1993, I was hired at Chattanooga State as a full-time employee. I went on to receive my master’s degree in Education with 18 hours of graduate level mathematics. I also attended UT and received my doctorate in Instructional Technology and Educational Studies.
It is amazing to think that one advising session helped to lead my life full circle back to ChattState working in the areas that I always enjoyed. I truly love my job helping students that come from the same background as I. I am so thankful to work at a wonderful institution, which truly cares about student success! It is great to be a part of the Chattanooga State family!