You are five years out of high school, married with one child, working a dead end job … what do you do to get ahead? With this realization, you know that education is the key. Many Chattanooga State students have had a similar epiphany, but Ellen Money decided that despite lower test scores due to testing anxiety, she would win.
A lifelong interest in bridges propelled Ellen Money to enter the 2+2 Program through Chattanooga State’s Engineering Technology division with a degree in civil engineering as her goal. Figuring that she would be able to pick up at the Calculus I level where she left off in high school, she was a little disheartened to find out that she had to take Math 0850, Precalculus I and Precalculus II to come up to college-level in the 2+2 engineering transfer program.
“Dean Tim McGhee thoroughly explained how difficult it is for a student who tests so low in math to make it all the way through an engineering degree, but luckily I am stubborn and when someone tells me that I can’t do something or that it will be hard, it makes me want to prove I can,” recalls Ms. Money.
Following her meeting with Dean McGhee, she was enrolled one month later and never looked back. Ms. Money graduated in the top 15 percent of her class, attaining Dean’s List and earning academic honors through Phi Theta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi. Others can learn from Ms. Money’s experience about focus and organization. She praises her husband Jeremy, who she says was “behind me 100 percent.” “Balancing home, school and work was difficult, but I treated each day like a work day. I began at 8 a.m. and left at 5 p.m. or later. I enrolled in 12 to 15 hours each semester, including summers. Each week I blocked out 20 hours to study/do homework and about 20-25 hours to work at my retail job,” shares Ms. Money.
Through all of this, her husband took on household responsibilities and worked a full-time job to support their family. They planned their second child around her school schedule so she would graduate on time. Finishing up her studies at Chattanooga State, Ms. Money moved on to UTC where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in May 2013. And by the way, Ellen and Jeremy now have six-month-old fraternal twins born in 2014.
With Ms. Money now fully employed as a design civil engineer in Dam Safety Engineering at TVA, it was Jeremy’s turn to return to college and of course he chose Chattanooga State. Now in his second year as a chemical engineering student, he will complete the transfer program and move to UTC for a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering.
Ms. Money is quick to praise Dean McGhee and Engineering Technology Department Head Beth Ruta. “They were rooting for me through my entire student career and I know that without their help and support I may not have had the determination to make it all the way through,” says Ms. Money. “Chattanooga State had teachers dedicated to my success. They have smaller classes and provided one-on-one attention along with an open door policy that I really took advantage of,” she added.
When asked why other students should consider a career in engineering technology, Ms. Money’s answer was reflective, “It’s tough but rewarding, can be used all over the world, and changes the way that you look at the world … definitely worth the four or five years it takes to obtain it.”
Regarding women in the engineering field, Ms. Money says, “ Don’t let the gender gap get in the way of your goals or be intimidated by a field dominated by men – stand strong and be tough. Don’t be afraid to show how smart you are. When you finish your degree, do something to help other women and girls in their path to a STEM career. Give them the encouragement to do what they love.”
More than 900 students are enrolled in Chattanooga State’s Engineering Technology programs. With more than 25 options, a career in engineering technology is a smart choice for students of any age who seek a rewarding and challenging career. Engineering technology scholarships made possible by organizations such as the Chattanooga Engineers Club and the Society of Women Engineers through the Chattanooga State Foundation are available to qualified students. Call 697-2630 for information. Visit www.chattanoogastate.edu/engineering-technology or call 697-4434 for information about engineering technology programs.