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Dual enrollment helped Roane State student start path toward nursing degree

Submitted by: 
Roane State Community College

July 20, 2016

Dual enrollment was an important part of Chelsea Smith’s plan.

That plan will allow her to finish her nursing degree at Roane State Community College without spending much on tuition and fees.

“I had my goal set from my junior year of high school, and that helped push me to get it done,” said Smith, a 2016 Sunbright High School graduate who will start Roane State’s nursing program this fall.

Smith began planning for college the summer after her sophomore year. She decided to become a nurse, and she wanted to go directly from high school into Roane State’s nursing program.

Smith dedicated herself to completing all prerequisite courses for nursing while in high school. She finished 30 hours – about a year’s worth of college courses – through Roane State’s dual enrollment program.

“It’s such a relief to know I do not have to worry about any prerequisites,” Smith said. “I can solely focus on my nursing classes.”

Smith used state grants to help pay for dual enrollment classes. She will use Tennessee Promise – the statewide program that provides two years of tuition-free community college – to help pay for her nursing degree.

If she stays on track, Smith will be a registered nurse by about age 20 without having paid much out of pocket for her college education.

“That’s part of what drove me to finish my prerequisites in high school so that Tennessee Promise could pay for the nursing degree,” Smith said. “My nursing salary will not have to go to paying off student loans. I am thankful for that. Like my Mom says all the time, she is so grateful for the Tennessee Promise.”

Dual enrollment classes gave Smith the head start she wanted. The courses also gave Smith valuable experience. Roane State’s small classes, Smith said, helped her make the transition from high school work to college work.

“I was super nervous my first day, not knowing what to expect,” Smith said. “But I walked in and the class was smaller than my high school classes. The teacher made sure I understood the material. It was not intimidating to ask questions. I am thankful for the dual enrollment program.”

Smith enjoyed the friendly atmosphere at Roane State’s Morgan County campus, which is only 15 minutes from her home. Campus director Michelle Adkisson and campus secretary Melanie Stanley were supportive, Smith said.

“I love it,” Smith said. “It is so laid back. Michelle and Mel really care about your education. I met a lot of people here I now consider friends. I like the family feeling here.”

After she graduates, Smith plans to work at University of Tennessee Medical Center and eventually earn her master’s degree.

“I loved taking anatomy and learning about it,” Smith said. “It seems so rewarding to be able to help people. Nursing is a job that will always keep you on your toes.”

For more information about Roane State dual enrollment and additional academic programs, contact the Morgan County campus at (423) 346-8700.