Creating a Sense of Community in Northeast Tennessee & Southwest Virginia

The start of fall signals the start of school and, for thousands of graduated high school seniors, this means the start of college. Whether a student has decided to go to a large university, a small university, or a technical college does not matter when it comes to the things that need to be done in order to prepare. Students might be going away from home for the first time or staying at home in order to attend school, but the nerves that can come along with such a huge life change are there for everyone. The following pages are filled with advice, from both college grads and businesses, in the hopes that whatever questions you may have, as a new college student, will be answered. If it isn’t answered here then we at VIPSEEN magazine hope to point you in the right direction. Good luck to ALL of our region’s new graduates!


ADAMS, NATHAN

Major: Graduated in May 2017 with an ASSOCIATE OF APPLIED SCIENCE DEGREE IN HORTICULTURE TECHNOLOGY; Currently working toward an ASSOCIATE OF APPLIED SCIENCE DEGREE IN HORTICULTURE – SPECIALIZATION IN BUSINESS & ENTREPRENEURSHIP

What was the deciding factor … the reason you chose your college?

I’m the first person in my family to attend VHCC and got really excited when I found out they have a horticulture program, because that’s something I’ve always been interested in. I would love to own and operate a community greenhouse and have already learned so much in the program that will make that possible. The program allows you to explore lots of different specialties, depending on your career goals. I was able to earn certificates in Landscape Management, Food Production, General Horticulture, and Indoor Plant Care while working toward a degree. That means I have a lot of career options in the field and knowledge in a lot of different specialty areas.

How approachable are the professors and College Staff?

Everyone I have met on campus has been a big help to me. Horticulture Instructor Ben Casteel has always been willing to answer any question I had, whether it was about horticulture or something else. I know that I can send him a text or email when I need help and he’ll get right back to me. I’ve also gotten a lot of help from Veterans Officer Debbie Barrett regarding my veteran’s benefits. She’s very knowledgeable and friendly and really goes out of her way to help any way she can. The campus is like a small community where the faculty and staff make it a point to know every student.

What is your favorite place on campus and why?

The Treadwell-Jones Greenhouse. It is a million dollar greenhouse that is really phenomenal. I really enjoy spending time in the tropical room with the banana trees and lemon grass or working on the aquaponics system. It’s a peaceful place, and I’m really lucky to be able to spend time there learning about the horticulture business.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in and which would you recommend? 

I serve as Vice President of the Student Veterans Association and have found that it is a great opportunity to connect with other veterans. Regardless of our military experience, we all have something in common and usually find we have a real connection. Being involved in the organization has allowed me to network with other veterans and make new friends. I would advise all students to find activities that interest them when they’re not in class.

Do you feel safe on campus?

I absolutely feel safe on campus. Even though VHCC is a small campus, it has a very involved police department. The officers are always patrolling and keeping a close eye on what’s happening on campus while they make a real effort to be friendly and helpful. If something happens, they take care of it in a very professional way so that everyone can concentrate on the real reason we’re here – to get an education.


HENKEL, KARI

Major: HEALTH SCIENCE with a concentration in MICROBIOLOGY
Graduation Year: MAY 2018

What was the biggest deciding factor… the reason you chose your college?

I chose ETSU because it was in the top 20 pre-med schools in the country, with Quillen College of Medicine being right across the street. It was also close to home, which is another great plus about my school.

What is your favorite school tradition?

My favorite school tradition would have to be tailgating before a football game. People you’ve never met before will offer you their food from the grill. It’s really the most fun I think I have ever had.

What extracurricular are you involved in? And which would you recommend?

I am the President of the Rural Health Association at ETSU. This is an organization where all prehealth students come together to focus on and better healthcare in our rural communities. I would recommend getting involved in anything that interests you, even if it is totally off the wall. You never know what you will enjoy or be good at!

What is your funniest/favorite college story?

One time I bent over to tie my shoe, and the weight of my backpack pulled me off the sidewalk and I fell into the road. I got on the YikYak app later and someone had posted about how ‘the clumsy girl that fell made them laugh.’ Proud moment.

What makes you proud to be a Buccaneer?

I’m proud to be a Buccaneer because everyone is so welcoming. I have become friends with people from all walks of life, no matter what that may be. I feel like having the opportunity to spend so much time with people who are different from me has made me a better person.


RUSSEL, JONATHAN

Major: (Double) ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION, MINOR IN LEGAL STUDIES
Graduation Year: 2019

What was the biggest deciding factor…the reason you chose your college?

I endured through the application, admission, and scholarship process with eight schools, went to three honors college weekends, and survived eleven interviews; as a result, I had decision overload! Ultimately, I found those things I valued most in an undergraduate experience: academic environment, extracurricular activities, and spiritual setting. My answer became Milligan College.

How approachable are the professors?

As online degrees become increasingly prevalent, the question arises, “what is the value of attending a college as opposed to logging into one?” For me, the answer is the student-faculty interaction. Each week I am in a professor’s office receiving guidance on assignments, classes, or even job, internship, or higher education opportunities. For students who understand the advantage of having relationships with professors, and make use of their willingness and availability to help, the student-faculty ratio becomes more than a ratio–it becomes an asset.

What extracurricular activities are you involved with? What would you recommend?

I am involved in Campus Worship Ministry, men’s soccer, the Milligan Honor’s Program, and Vespers (a weekly student led Christian service). In the community, I am part of LXI (a Christian ministry in Johnson City serving at-risk youth) and Celebration Church’s worship team. I believe it is equally important to become involved in both the on-campus community as well as the off-campus community. Milligan provides numerous on-campus programs and opportunities which play a significant role in the college experience, while also encouraging students to be servant leaders in the community at large. As a member of the LXI Milligan student club, I have the opportunity to lead alongside my peers in serving youth in the area. This fusion of on-campus community and off-campus service has been the most rewarding part of my college experience.

Do you have any advice for admission/financial aid?

Take the ACT multiple times and study to improve your scores. I took the PSAT, ACT, and SAT numerous times throughout my junior and senior years of high school until I made a score which qualified me for higher automatic academic scholarships. Don’t give up–it’s worth it!

What makes you proud to be a Buff?

I am proud to be a Buff when I have the opportunity to meet notable alumni in the region and across the nation who represent true servant leadership. Recently, I was on a mission trip in Philadelphia serving in a community overridden by drug abuse. While meeting one of the missionaries who lived and served on one of the community’s most heavily-trafficked drug blocks, I discovered this person was a former Milligan student. Whether these alums are missionaries, pastors, businessmen and women, or nurses, I am proud to meet individuals who have taken the values and educational opportunities from Milligan College and made an impact in the culture and community.


TAYLOR, AUSTIN

Major: MASS COMMUNICATIONS AND FILM STUDIES DOUBLE MAJOR
Graduation Year: MAY 2017

What was the biggest deciding factor… the reason you chose your college?

When I went for my first campus tour there was this presence on campus that just felt welcoming and inviting. Everyone was incredibly friendly and made me feel like I belonged.

How approachable are the professors and staff?

Incredibly approachable! The professors at Carson-Newman really try to invest into the lives of the students. I cannot tell you the amount of times I had to late-night text a professor on their personal cell phone or have gone to lunch with professors.

What is campus life like?

I loved campus life so much that I lived on campus all four years and I was a resident assistant for three of those years. Carson-Newman’s student body is tightly knitted and everyone becomes like your family. It would be rare to walk down the sidewalk and not know everyone you pass. The sense of community is incredible and provides a great atmosphere for learning and growing.

What is your favorite Carson-Newman story?

My favorite Carson-Newman story would probably be the winter of 2015 when a huge snowstorm hit East Tennessee and classes were cancelled for about two weeks. The first day of the big snow, the entire student body, and professors I might add, all gathered on Henderson lawn for a giant snowball fight. It was remarkably fun and I’ll never forget that day.

What makes you proud to be a Carson-Newman Eagle?

Carson-Newman’s mission statement says it all… “to help students reach their full potential as educated citizens and worldwide servant leaders.” That is exactly what Carson-Newman did for me and to me. It provided me the opportunity to grow spiritually, intellectually, culturally, and socially. Carson-Newman has made me who I am today and for that I will always be grateful to be a Carson-Newman Eagle and it will always be home.


HEINLEIN, CASEY

Major: (double) CIVIC INNOVATION / RELIGION
Graduation Year: MAY 2018

What was the biggest deciding factor… the reason you chose your college?

When my family first drove on to campus, we drove all the way through it, looking at everything we could see from the car, scoping the place out before actually stepping foot on the grounds. We pulled into the admissions parking lot, went into the building we were told to go to first before the tour, and were greeted with a sign that said “Welcome Casey!” And just like that, I was home. I knew from that moment on that Emory & Henry College was the place for me. I wasn’t going to be just another number at some school; I was going to be known by my name in a community full of thoughtful and endearing people…and I was right.

How approachable are the professors? College Staff?

The faculty and staff at Emory & Henry are half of what make this school so wonderful. Not only are they approachable, but, usually, they are the ones doing all the approaching! The faculty and staff here want to get to know the students, want to build relationships with them. They understand the importance of making connections with one another, students included. They have discussions with us, rather than lecture at us. Sometimes, they even ask us to babysit their children! The faculty and staff are always there to lend a helping hand, a listening ear, and, occasionally, a home-cooked meal.

What extracurricular are you involved in? And which would you recommend?

The campus has lots of extracurricular activities for students to get involved in, and they are all amazing! I am currently involved in several. I am the Vice President of the Emory Activities Board, Treasurer of Young Democrats, Treasurer of the Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter, an Orientation Leader, and a TEDxEHC team member. I compete in various intramurals during the week and go on adventures with the Outdoor Program on the weekends. Whatever your interest is, there is probably a club, group, or organization for it. I’d recommend all of them!

Where is your favorite place to eat?

On campus, I am a big advocate for Stinger’s and the caf! The food is wonderful, and the staff are some of the friendliest people on campus. Off campus, I love to go to Glade Spring, and eat at El Burrito Loco. I find myself craving their philly cheese steak fajitas and chimichangas more than anything else in the area!

What makes you proud to be a Wasp?

I’m proud to be an Emory & Henry Wasp because I get to be a part of the Swarm! I’m proud of all of the other Wasps here! Emory & Henry is more than a community of college students and professors; it’s a family. Through all things–happy or sad–we stick together like a family, sharing life’s moments together with people who are proud to call themselves Wasps, too.

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