Adult Promise Gives Matthew Dodd The Solid Foundation He Needs To Succeed

Friday, September 22, 2017
Matthew Dodd
Matthew Dodd

Since the fall of 2015, approximately 150 students have received the Adult Promise Scholarship at Cleveland State Community College. Adult Promise is a last-dollar scholarship for adults available only at Cleveland State. With this scholarship, qualified adult students may pursue their dream of earning a college certificate or degree tuition free! 

Although CSCC’s Adult Promise is soon to be replaced with Governor Haslam’s Tennessee Reconnect initiative in the fall of 2018, the requirements are basically the same according to Eric Harris, Financial Aid specialist at CSCC. 

“Adult Promise and Tennessee Reconnect are almost identical in function, said Mr. Harris. “The difference is Adult Promise is funded through the Cleveland State Foundation and Tennessee Reconnect is funded through the state using revenue from the Tennessee Lottery. Current Adult Promise recipients will have to apply for Reconnect. The requirements are the same, so it should be a smooth transition, and I will be keeping track of each student to make sure there are no issues.”

Out of the 150 students who have received the Adult Promise Scholarship, 81 percent of those recipients either graduated or are currently attending this semester.

One of those students is Matthew Dodd. The Alpharetta, Ga., native went through a series of jobs right out of high school trying to find a career that was right for him. Nothing seemed to interest him—factories, restaurants and sales; he tried it all. He even attempted college at one point. He attended Georgia Southern for two semesters, but since he wasn’t sure of a major, he decided not to waste any more of his time.

“I came home from college, and my life crashed down on me. I went through a really bad phase. My mom died. My car got repossessed because I wasn’t working at the time. I was broke and penniless. I was actually living in a storage unit for 10 months.” 

Shortly after, Mr. Dodd’s luck changed when he was offered a job in Memphis with Solaris, a cell phone repair and accessory stand, which he took. He lived there for a few months before he was promoted to manage his own store at Bradley Square Mall which brought him to Cleveland.  

Fast forward a few years and Mr. Dodd still wanted that degree. When he saw a billboard on Keith Street advertising CSCC’s Adult Promise Scholarship and a free degree, he said he thought to himself, “Let’s do this!”

Mr. Dodd enrolled at CSCC in 2016 and since that time has taken a very active role at the college diving head first into student life on campus. He was voted vice president of Student Senate and is looking forward to serving in that capacity this year. 

“To me, learning is not just about getting information to use for my future career. It’s how everything works together. Being the vice president for Student Senate lets me see the relationship between different departments. It gives me a voice. It lets me take an active role in what my educational experience is like.”

Mr. Dodd said, “When you are involved, you are engaged. I have met a lot of new people. I have formed study groups. I have made a lot of friends. I have seen what I’m capable of from an educational standpoint—how much I can take on, and I’ve even surprised myself! Because I’ve stayed active, it’s kind of like being in a family, it’s like I have a family here at CSCC…I like being part of something bigger than myself.” 

In addition to college, Mr. Dodd also chose to join the United States Marine Corps Reserves and completed his basic training this summer in Parris Island, South Carolina. He has also been researching careers and jobs and has decided to major in Civil Engineering. When he graduates from CSCC, he plans to transfer to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) to pursue his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. 

“Adult Promise was the difference between me going to school or not going to school,” said Dodd. “I wouldn’t be here without it. I’m not going into debt. I’m not digging myself into a hole. I’m standing on solid ground and building solid foundation for myself. I hope anyone considering going back to school will look into a program such as this one or the Tennessee Reconnect and just dive in and face their fears! If you don’t dive in, you’ll never make that change. Just do it!”

Mr. Harris said, “I am extremely proud of Tennessee for committing to tuition-free community college for adults. Everyone who dreams of getting a college degree should be given the opportunity to earn it, regardless of their economic status. I’ve seen first-hand what a huge difference this type of assistance has made in the lives of our students. I look forward to seeing the positive impact this program has on our community. This is a big step in the right direction to make higher education attainable to all who seek it, and I hope more states follow Tennessee’s example.”

For more information on the Tennessee Reconnect, contact Natalia Williams at (423) 472-7141, ext. 217.




Chattanooga Preparatory School Invites 300 Men To Welcome Inaugural Class

In 2016 local couple, Ted and Kelly Alling, decided to make a lasting impact on Chattanooga by extending diverse academic opportunities to the underserved young men of the city’s urban core. The idea came to them after they toured Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy and thought how incredible it would be if boys and their families had a similar school. The ... (click for more)

MaryEllen Locher Scholarship Foundation Announces Winners

The MaryEllen Locher Scholarship Foundation has awarded 17 college scholarships for the upcoming academic year to Chattanooga area students representing 12 high schools in the region.  The foundation is a college scholarship program for children who have either lost a parent to breast cancer or have a parent who is a breast cancer survivor. The awards are designed to ease ... (click for more)

Rhonda Thurman "Astounded" At Low Performance By Hamilton County Schools On TNReady; Dr. Johnson Says Some Gaps "Closing" Between County And State

County School Board member Rhonda Thurman said Thursday she was "astounded" by low performance on TNReady scores that were just released.   Noting that the county schools are below state levels in many areas, she said, "I am blown away. I am just astounded. We spend millions and ten millions and this is what we get."   She said, "If people want to know why ... (click for more)

Senator Corker Calls Judge Kavanaugh "A Superb Nominee"

 Senator Bob Corker on Thursday called Judge Brett Kavanaugh "a superb nominee" for the U.S. Supreme Court.   He made the statement after meeting with President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.   Senator Corker said, “I had a great meeting today with Judge Kavanaugh and think he is a superb nominee. It is inspiring to me to see ... (click for more)

Employee Who Stole From East Ridge Should Be Prosecuted

Why has the East Ridge employee who was fired for theft not been charged with theft?    City Manager Scott Miller made the statement that the employee had problems and that the stolen items were returned.  What does that have to do with the employee stealing ?   He has had a history of abuse of city resources. Why is he not being prosecuted? ... (click for more)

Am I Alone? - And Response (6)

Am I alone seems to be quite apt as I begin to form sentences, thoughts and concerns regarding the state of this country. I feel like I am alone trying, somehow, to justify Trump and understand why he is constantly in the middle of chaos.  Now coined as the Liar-in-Chief, Chief Foreign Affairs Coordinator acting for his pal Russian Dictator, Putin.  The silence ... (click for more)