After sending her daughter off to college in 2014, Tina King started having her own aspirations to return to school.
“Why not? I didn’t get to finish college when I first started in 1993, so I think I’ll give it a shot,” Tina recalls.
A longtime employee of the Tennessee Department of Transportation, Tina wanted to take classes and earn a degree that could help her advance in her job.
“Pellissippi State has really helped me keep up with promotions at work, and going for a degree has shown management that I’m determined and willing to better myself,” Tina explains. “I’ve moved up the ladder quite a bit.”
During her time as a college student, Tina has actively tried to recruit other TDOT employees to help them climb the ladder as well.
“When I started out at TDOT in maintenance, I was boots-on-the-ground, just a grunt, so to speak,” Tina says. “To get to higher places in TDOT, you really need an education. When I notice that my coworkers want to do more than just shovel asphalt, I push them to go to Pellissippi State.”
Tina has had a great support system during her eight-year tenure at Pellissippi State, including former Relationships Manager Celeste Evans, who helped Tina get started back to college, and Civil Engineering Technology Professor Sami Ghezawi, who worked with Tina to make sure she got credits and certifications for her work at TDOT.
“Tina is a leader here at TDOT and has been a true inspiration for our folks here who have been hesitant to re-enter the classroom after being away from school for a number of years,” says TDOT Safety Manager Duane Manning. “She is a very high-performer and a true inspiration for anyone who has the privilege of working around her or making her acquaintance — a true testament of ‘never-quit’ and perseverance.”
Tina plans to one day pursue a bachelor’s degree in geotechnical engineering.
“I just want to play in the dirt,” Tina says with a laugh. “We have a lot of rockslides in this area, so that degree would be a great opportunity to help with that.”
Tina wrapped up eight years of hard work and commitment Dec. 9 by walking across the Commencement Ceremony stage to get her Associate of Applied Science in Civil and Construction Engineering Technology.
“If I can do it, anybody can do it,” insists Tina, with a teary-eyed smile. “It might have taken me eight years, but there are new, quicker paths available now. Pellissippi State is family. They really do want to see you succeed, and they will work with you in any way possible to make sure you do.”
— Story and photo by Jessie Tipton, visual media coordinator for Pellissippi State